It can be difficult to find ways to genuinely motivate staff at work, and often the old standards—performance-based bonuses and increased rewards—only work in the short-term, if they work at all. In fact, some tests have shown that the usual motivational tactics aren’t always effective.
So how can you authentically motivate your staff?
1. Share positive feedback
Too often, rewards and recognition are based on achievements—closing a big account for example. But your staff do a lot of work that doesn’t gain attention on a spreadsheet. Going the extra mile for a client or showing compassion when dealing with a frustrated customer, for example, enhance your organization’s reputation even if they don’t immediately have an effect on your bottomline.
Create a process through which you gather feedback from your clients. When they share positive comments about your staff, share it with them. Let them know they made someone’s day, even if it wasn’t directly related to their job. Doing so can increase your staff’s satisfaction, which can be a great motivator. It also shows your staff that you—and your customers—appreciate them.
2. Focus on individuals
Yes, your staff are members of a team. But each team member contributes in a way that is unique, and based on their individual skills, goals, and habits. Remember when you’re motivating your team as a whole that the people on it need to feel aligned with the strategies and goals you implement. You need each person to feel that they contribute to and also benefit from the work the team does.
Talk to the individuals to find out what they do and don’t like working on, what their goals are and how the team can help them reach their objectives. Do they want to improve their skill set or try a new role? Do they want a mentor on their team who can help them with professional development? Have one-on-one check-ins and ask questions focused on their individual skill set. Listen to their thoughts and ideas. After all, you hired them for a reason.
3. Ask your staff what they want
Organizations frequently develop rewards and recognition programs based either on what they want or by following what other organizations do. Rewards are often tied to promotions or financial incentives. These are nice to offer, but they may not appeal to all your staff. Not everyone wants increased work responsibility, for example.
Some staff might prefer additional vacation days, enhanced benefits, free lunches, flex time at work, or other bonuses that aren’t tied to their job title. Talk to your staff. Ask what motivates them and create rewards and bonuses based on what they identify as being most valuable to them.
Organizations often view financial rewards for achieving goals as the main way to motivate employees. Research shows that these tactics may not be as effective as previously thought. There are other things you can do to show your staff you appreciate and value the work they do.
It’s also good to remember that even the most motivated staff faces tough days. In those moments, showing your colleague compassion and offering support can help them feel valued.