One-third of workers in the UK report being unhappy at work and if we don’t start looking at new ways to motivate our employees we may well see motivation levels drop even further. Creating a positive culture is not something that you can achieve overnight, it takes authentic and long-term commitment to turn around the office environment, but put the effort in and you will reap the rewards.
Most of us know what a motivated environment feels like: we have all visited offices where there is just a buzz about the place. The buzz of positive engagement and focus, as well as a sense of community and coherence. These environments don’t just represent the employees, but they are a testament to the managers and directors who have prioritised the well-being of their staff. For true motivation does not come with the old ‘stick’ methods of management, but the ‘carrot’ of inspiration.
Ring the changes
Old-school hierarchies should be banished, they don’t cut it into today’s modern workplaces, where managers need to be visible, approachable and should view their role as mentors to their team. Like all good mentoring relationships, each employee should feel that they are treated as an individual, who is nurtured and valued according to their own strengths and needs. One size does not fit all. Today’s workplaces are dynamic, diverse environments, with many different attitudes, career paths and expectations and it is important to recognise that everyone is motivated in different ways.
The three tenets of motivation
Be the inspiration
Be inspiring, have a clear sense of vision, which everyone feels they can contribute to. Get to know your employees and get a sense for where they want to go with their careers and help clear the path for them to get there. Have high expectations and encourage your staff to explore new skills and nurture the ones they already have. A stagnant workforce is unmotivated, they will either plateau and coast along at work, or else they will look for opportunities elsewhere.
Getting to know your employees really pays off when it comes to understanding what it is that will inspire them and spur them on. Some may enjoy public recognition others prefer a heartfelt thank you. Some might make work the main place that they form social groups and for these people team rewards will work well, but others may value time with their family above all else and in this case they might be motivated by a reward that gives them a chance to enjoy time with their loved ones. It is about letting your employees know that you don’t just value them as a cog in the system, but that you value their unique qualities and understand how they tick.
Committing to a rewards and recognition systems does not mean that you will now be surrounded by motivated, whooping staff. You need to constantly review this system. Track results, talk to employees and get feedback, to understand if what you have set in place is really working. If you don’t do this, you run the risk that our employees will realise that the rewards system you have set up, is nothing more than a box-ticking exercise. A motivated workforce feels appreciated and listened to. They know their place in the organisation and feel that their contribution is valued and important. The relationships you model with employees, will be reproduced throughout the business, so keep it positive, authentic and transparent.