If you are a company owner that employs staff, one of your biggest problems may be the disparity between what the company means to you and what it means to them.
For you, the company may be your life. You may have founded the company, and given heart and soul in building it up over a long period of time. Your standard of living, and that of your family, is probably directly linked to the company’s performance – if financial performance is poor even for a short period, you may not be able to pay yourself as large a salary, or receive as large a dividend. If the business fails, the financial consequences might not bear thinking about.
For your employees, the company might be simply a source of income to meet their essential bills and to provide funds for discretionary spending. They can turn up, work their contracted hours and then leave. Provided they maintain sufficient standards of work and conduct to avoid disciplinary action, and you are not contemplating making redundancies, they can continue to receive their salary indefinitely. A short-term fall in profits will still leave their salary unchanged.
This can create a problem where employees are seen to be ‘coasting.’ They are meeting the minimum requirements of the job, so you cannot justify disciplinary action, but you want more from them and feel they are capable of contributing more.
8 Easy Ways To Motivate Your Staff
Here, we look at ways you might be able to motivate your staff:
1. Increase Basic Salary
Perhaps the oldest motivational tool in the workplace manual! It may well have the effect of making the employee feel better about working for the company, and improve their performance as a result. However, you need to think carefully before taking this step, especially about how a particular employee might react to a pay rise.
For some, it could mean the problem of coasting referred to above gets worse. They may regard the rise as an endorsement of the way they conduct themselves at work, and it may reduce their motivation to impress in order to gain an internal promotion. And of course you need to be able to afford the salary increases!
2. Consider Performance-Related Pay
This is commonly used for salespeople and others whose performance directly impacts on revenue and profits. Some organizations make little or no use of performance-related pay (PRP), however, in other organizations almost all employees have some form of target to meet, for which they can expect increased remuneration.
Methods of performance-related pay can include commission payments for sales made and bonus payments on achieving certain targets, which can be related to sales volume and/or work quality.
The idea behind PRP is simple – if people are directly rewarded for their achievements, they will want to achieve more and more in order to be better remunerated.
However, the potential pitfalls of such a system are considerable. Firstly, you need to be confident you have the systems in place to accurately judge performance. This may be simple if the measure is sales volume, but if you are judging quality of performance it could be much more difficult. Not only do you need a reliable system to monitor this, but it can use up staff time and resources if supervisors or others need to analyse the performance of their staff in detail.
Secondly, it can cause resentment among staff not getting large bonuses, especially if they perceive that the system is not fair.
Finally, PRP can also accentuate the differences between the highest and lowest paid staff in an organization, in that bonuses offered as a percentage of basic salary will be higher for senior staff. Indeed those in senior roles often receive significantly higher bonuses as a percentage of salary, and thus it could increase resentment among lower-paid staff.
3. Use Other Incentive Schemes
These may involve formal awards schemes, say where one-off cash payments or other gifts are offered for certain achievements, or it may be more ad-hoc (e.g. a bottle of wine for completing a certain task successfully). This method may not require the detailed analysis of performance that a PRP scheme might require, but it has the same potential for generating resentment among staff who feel that their achievements are not being rewarded.
4. Expand Roles
This essentially involves expanding an employee’s role so that they undertake a wider range of tasks. One way this can be done is to think of tasks related to those the employee already undertakes, and to bring those into their job role. Doing this can benefit the employee if they like the added variety of their role and the added responsibility that comes with it, and this can be a good way of making an employee feel they are making progress with the company if promotion opportunities are not available for whatever reason.
However, when considering job enlargement, be wary of the fact that an employee may in fact end up with an increased workload for no extra reward, something they may not welcome.
It can be demoralizing if an employee feels they have to do all the work but have no power. Think carefully about the competencies of your staff, and ask what real responsibility you can delegate without worrying that they will mess up.
6. Encourage Better Communication
Employees can feel demotivated if they don’t know what’s going on in the organization. Some details you will not be able to share, but if you have new initiatives, good financial results or other achievements, why not share them with your staff, say via a company announcement or newsletter. Communication can also be a two-way process, so consider what you can do to get the views of your staff (e.g. asking them in one-to-one meetings or having an anonymous suggestion box).
7. Plan Social Events
Company socials can boost morale, and make people feel good about going back into the office on the next business day, even if you aren’t in a position to pay for the event yourself. But don’t create a culture where people feel pressurized into attending – any event will not be to everyone’s taste.
8. Allow Away Days
Whether these involve a series of work-related tasks, or a series of leisure activities, or a combination of both, many employers regard them as important tools for improving workplace performance. The central idea is that if employees are asked to work together to achieve a series of tasks, their performance when working together in the workplace will be improved. Some employees will undoubtedly enjoy this type of experience, but they should be used with care. Asking some employees to undertake physical activity for which they have no aptitude (e.g. the traditional company ‘outward bound’ session) is unlikely to make them feel good about their employer.
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