What are the ways to motivate your employees? What kind of employee motivation is most effective? How do companies motivate their employees? You are about to find out answers to all these questions and more in this article that’s filled with illustrative real-life examples.
Ask yourself a simple question, “Why do my employees work at my company?” The first – and most obvious – answer that comes to mind is this: they do it to get paid. But is that actually the only reason? And is this reason the most important one? If so, then why are hundreds of managers confronted with situations where people receive fairly generous compensation for their work, yet are unwilling to carry out their work-related tasks? We’re about to tackle all these questions and more in Kickidler’s comprehensive guide to employee motivation!
Employee motivation – why is it important in the first place?
When it comes to employee motivation, we prefer to use the simplest, clearest and most transparent definition possible: employee motivation is their desire to work. The higher the motivation of your subordinates, the more interested they are in their work, the more effectively they perform their duties, and the more value you get from them in general.
It would seem that if a person takes a job and agrees to the terms of the employment contract, they are already sufficiently committed and they can either do the job well or quit. So why do employers need to pay more attention to this concept? After all, we are all adults, and sometimes we have to do things that need to be done no matter whether we want to or not.
Sure, this opinion is not entirely unreasonable: an adequate adult does know how to get their work done simply because they have to. But there are two important nuances to note here:
1.If an employee comes to work reluctantly, they spend their mental resources on overcoming their own disinterest or even disgust toward their job day in and day out. Had they actually enjoyed their job – if they had been motivated – they could’ve put those same mental resources to good use. This is a growth point that shouldn’t be ignored.
2.While adults can push through their whims at work when they might not feel like doing anything, they don’t actually enjoy such inner struggles. And if we’re talking about a valuable employee – a professional who can easily satisfy their material needs either with or without you – they’ll simply quit. Most likely, they’ll leave for your competitor who managed to motivate them a bit more. A while ago we named the main reasons why people quit their jobs, and among those reasons is the lack of employee motivation and engagement.
By the way, it is impossible to have employee engagement – emotional attachment to the company – without reasonably high employee motivation. Keep that in mind, since an employee who’s engaged in work processes tends to work 20-30% more efficiently than someone who’s merely satisfied with their working conditions.
Therefore, by ignoring the factor of employee motivation, you’re simply wasting their potential, encouraging high employee turnover and, ultimately, losing money.
Financial and non-financial motivation
Motivation can be both financial and non-financial. The former one is easy to understand: it includes money and various material rewards, such as:
- interest or commission;
- social package – insurance, free meals, transfer to work, etc.;
- professional training at the expense of the company.
Non-financial motivation includes all the other benefits the employee receives from the company:
- comfortable working conditions: a cozy office, a gym, free coffee, etc.;
- opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment or tackle interesting tasks;
- moral satisfaction when receiving praise from superiors or seeing their own photo on the corporate wall of fame;
- corporate parties;
- vacation tours for employees’ families.
It’s important to recognize that different people have different priorities. Some people care more about a nice health insurance and social package, others want to become better at what they do and enhance their skills, yet others get the maximum pleasure when they’re being recognized by their superiors. Still, one general rule applies in most cases:
You should get your financial motivation in order first, and then deal with the non-financial motivation.
The opposite course of action – betting on non-financial motivation (especially on “free” motivation, like certificates of merit) – works only in those organizations that initially offer non-profit services. For example, such an approach can work nicely in a charity foundation or a volunteer organization.
In most cases, though, people have come to you to earn money: a salary high enough for the position is the prerequisite for specialists to even consider your job offer. Non-financial motivation, on the other hand, is the reason why they choose your company over all the similar others.
Positive and negative motivation
At the same time, motivation can be positive and negative. Positive motivation refers to the so-called carrot:
- bonuses and commissions;
- recognition from the executives;
- acknowledgement of achievements by the colleagues;
- certificates of merit, gifts, etc.
Negative motivation in this case is the metaphorical stick:
- fear of letting the team down;
- fines, penalties, and verbal reprimands.
Notice how both financial and non-financial types of motivation are also at work here. A task well done means a financial bonus and recognition. A task performed poorly entails a fine and overall disapproval. In order for this system to be in balance, if you want to get the most out of your employees, you should always aim for a comprehensive approach.
However, we should make an important point here: both positive and negative motivation can easily lead to a decline in employee performance rather than to its improvement.
Negative effects of attempts to increase employee motivation in your company
Let’s start with the negative motivation, since everything is rather obvious in this regard. Consider a few common situations:
- A subordinate was given a task that turned out to be more difficult than expected. They worked diligently, but failed to meet the deadline, and as a result, they were fined.
- The team worked hard on a project, everyone was doing their best, but a certain employee’s procrastination resulted in the entire team being fined.
- A supplier had delayed delivery, so the executive yelled at the manager in charge and deprived them of their bonus.
All these cases involved unreasonable use of negative motivation. Employees from these examples received negative feedback on their actions where they were clearly not at fault. Essentially, in situations like these, subordinates won’t learn any useful lessons for the future, they will stop trusting their supervisors, and their attitude to the company in general will worsen.
Now for the positive motivation. At first glance it would seem that praise or a bonus could do no harm, and yet think about these examples:
- You reward a team for a successfully completed project with a bonus, but everyone knows that one particular employee did his job poorly. And yet he received the same financial incentive as the other employees. No one will rat him out, but a bad feeling will remain: during the next project, there will be several procrastinators, after all, why make any effort when everybody is going to be rewarded any way?
- You give a subordinate a bonus, but the amount is less than what he expected. An altercation with the employee could occur, and even if you are in the right, they may harbor a grudge.
- You encourage your employees by awarding them certificates and company gifts, but it so happens that one employee always falls under the radar, since he just quietly does his job without attracting any attention. His motivation will inevitably falter: everyone seems to doing a great job, and I’m not.
There are many more examples of failed attempts to motivate employees that people might encounter on a daily basis, but the root of the problem always remains the same: partiality and lack of transparency.
5 factors that destroy the motivation of your employees
Let’s also mention potential pitfalls – things that you need to pay special attention to when it comes to employee motivation:
- Micromanagement. Excessive pressure from superiors is a powerful contributor to stress, which, as we know well, destroys motivation. We talked at length about the harm of control for the sake of control; we also outlined a particular instance of how an employee feels about being micromanaged. Try to avoid such situations: for example, Kickidler offers a special module for this – Autokick – which allows subordinates to monitor themselves, without the supervisor’s interference and the negative impact it entails.
- Personal problems. As much as we’d like to leave all personal matters outside the office, we’re only human. Employees’ personal problems affect the quality of their work, and it’s your responsibility to spot such instances in time (by tracking with Kickidler’s help any drops in productivity) and respond to them by talking to the person, gently finding out what happened and taking the appropriate course of action.
- Doomscrolling. A feeling that there isn’t anything good in this world hits very hard – in terms of not only motivation, but also the desire to live in general. You can try to protect your employees from unnecessary stress by blocking their access to newsfeed during work hours, and their motivation and productivity will increase in return.
- Overwhelming amount of meetings and reports. Employees tend to dislike being distracted from their main tasks by yet another conference call or endless paperwork. Of course, these aspects are unavoidable, but if you establish an efficient culture regarding company meetings and reports, it will become easier for your people to focus on their actual work. In turn, their productivity will increase and their motivation will stop declining.
- Ethics. We encourage close monitoring of data that Kickidler gathers and displays continuously, but that doesn’t mean employees are supposed to feel that monitoring. Adhere to the main principles of ethical monitoring, and you’ll be able to minimize problems regarding subordinates’ motivation.
5 rules of objectivity and transparency as the foundation of employee motivation
One of the basic psychological needs of every person is their need for fairness. The vast majority of conscientious employees want to work with integrity and receive fair remuneration for their work. They understand and reason with the basic principle: if you work well, you get positive feedback; if you slack off, you get negative feedback in the form of a fine or reprimand. However, for a person to perceive your motivation strategies adequately, they must be certain that everything is fair.
Ideally, every employee in your company should be confident that:
- everyone receives fair pay for their work (according to their responsibilities, competencies, years of experience, etc.);
- achievements don’t go unnoticed: a job well done will be recognized;
- mistakes and sloppiness are not ignored: reprimands and fines will be imposed;
- the size of a reward or fine – both financial and non-financial – will be proportionate to the magnitude of the occasion;
- there are no favorites or scapegoats in the company; every employee is treated equally in accordance with the rules that apply to everyone.
Is it possible to attain this perfect state of affairs in practice? It certainly is, as long as you rely on objective criteria when making your managerial decisions, for example, by using Kickidler’s reports.
Kickidler provides a clear overview of how productive each of your employees is: what apps they use, what sites they visit, the times when they are actively working at their computers, and the times when they are less engaged in their work. Using Kickidler, you can instantly see whom you should reward and whom you should pay closer attention to; most importantly, you will be able to explain the rationale behind your decisions. This way you’ll ensure objectivity and transparency, upon which a sturdy system of motivation will be built.
5 steps to building an effective motivation system in the company
So, you’ve already taken the first step, you have established an objective system of financial and non-financial rewards and penalties. It is transparent, understandable to each employee, and fair. Here are the steps you need to take next:
- Establish a culture of recognition. Unfortunately, most management practices tend to focus on the “stick”. Being paid for the work is considered by them to be a sufficient “carrot”, when in reality it is a necessity, a metaphorical main course rather than a carrot. The carrot is akin to a cherry on top: it’s about feeling that you didn’t just earn money, but actually did something useful for the people around you, something that these people will appreciate. That is why all executives need to learn how to provide positive feedback to their people. After all, lack of recognition is among the top reasons why employees might not be eager to work.
- Create a truly inclusive and open work environment. An important part of motivation is a sense of your own importance within the company. When people are motivated, they come up with ideas and suggestions to improve internal processes, and if they aren’t heard, their motivation will drop. It is your duty as a manager to be constantly engaged in a dialogue with your employees: to listen to their insights, to discuss their suggestions, and to gauge their opinions.
- Tailor non-financial motivation to your employees’ needs. Steer clear of clichés like a certificate of appreciation for the most productive employee that you downloaded from the web. Find out what your employees actually enjoy. For example, if you have a team of young and active people, they are more likely to like a corporate party at a ski resort than an evening at a posh restaurant (although, every person is unique, of course). You could even form a Cultural Committee among employees, which will gather feedback from your team and tell you exactly what your people want.
- Set clear goals. The very existence of precise objectives already increases labor efficiency by 10-15%. Have a look at Kickidler’s reports from previous time periods and establish goals that will provide your employees with an interesting challenge, but won’t overwhelm them at the same time. Over time, you’ll see an overall increase in productivity.
- Keep an eye on the happiness level within the company. Sure, we can’t guarantee that every happy employee will be highly motivated, but we can safely assume that all unhappy employees are definitely far from being motivated at all. The “happiness” surveys that we talked about in another recent article of ours can certainly be of great help to you.
And be sure to track the effects of your decisions with the help of Kickidler: you’ll be able to clearly notice how your employee motivation changes by the changes in their productivity.
Objectivity. Transparency. Accuracy. Attentiveness. Integrity. These virtues will help you build an effective system of motivating employees in your company. Acknowledge the needs of your employees, rely on Kickidler data, and the rest will follow! Good luck!