Top Tips – Rewarding and Motivating your Employees

Or improving Employee Engagement as us HR types like to call it!  There are thousands of articles available online, based on a range of different philosophies; some very practical and based on common sense, others a bit wackier!  Here are a few of our favourites,  but remember there is no one-size-fits-all way to keep your team motivated!  Take some of the ideas mentioned below and see how they can benefit your company:

  1. Pay a fair market salary

Unsurprisingly, one of the top (if not THE top) motivators is base pay.  After all, it’s why we go to work isn’t it? You may be able to get away with underpaying staff when times are tough, but when the market picks up and recruitment becomes employee led rather than employer led, don’t be surprised if your staff decide to vote with their feet.  Even in the short-term, underpaying staff may be a false economy as employees who are being paid less than their perceived worth (usually market rate) will be demotivated and therefore not as productive as they might otherwise be. So, it literally pays to pay your staff a fair market wage in line with the market rate.  Benchmark salaries once a year to check your pay is still in line with market rate and keep your salaries as close as possible to market rate so you can maintain motivation levels. If you can’t pay the going rate, try and compensate in other ways such as allowing people to work from home to save commuting costs etc…

  • Make your workplace a pleasant place to be

No-one wants to be in a drab, boring space for hours on end. Having a visually pleasing, well-lit, functional and (if possible) fun space makes work a lot more pleasant. The first step is to make sure things are well-kept and in good working order.  Using out-of-date, slow, unreliable equipment won’t make anyone enjoy what they’re doing – it will simply frustrate and irritate them. Also keep things clean, neat and tidy and ensure the fabric of your workspace is well kept and looks nice. This doesn’t have to be expensive. A lick of paint, new carpet, updated PC or even some interesting features – consider some local artists who’s pieces would look great in your workspace. Do you have a budding photographer in your team who’d love to have some of their photos displayed on the wall?  How about a bright, vibrant magnetic wallboard to replace the old, crusty cork notice board and some interesting accessories or fresh flowers? All these little touches will make things a lot more pleasant for your employees (and by proxy, your customers).

  • Be a respectful, honest and supportive manager

This may seem like a no-brainer, but bad management is one of the top reasons employees leave. 7/10 employees leave their manager rather than the company!  Things like respect, honesty, support and clear communication are the foundations here (see our Top Tips article on Managing your People for more information). But there’s a lot more you can do to be a great leader and mentor. If you’re new to this whole management thing, it’s worth reading some books on the subject — effective management, like any other skill, takes knowledge and practice. The bottom line is if you’re a good person to work for, your employees will be more loyal.

  • Offer employee benefits

People will stay with your business if they have a reason to. If there’s not much to choose between working for you and moving to work for your competitor down the road, you risk losing your most talented staff.  So, if you want to keep your good people and keep them motivated, it’s worth introducing an employee benefits scheme and / or other incentives. Maybe it’s a quarterly bonus, private healthcare, health cash plan or the chance to buy / sell annual leave. Maybe it’s flexible working or maybe it’s an online Benefits Portal that offers a wide range of retail discounts, offers and deals e.g. cinema tickets, meals out, holidays etc.  (LINK HERE to BENEFITS CLOUD) If people feel valued and recognise the ‘added extras’ they receive, they likely to be more loyal, more productive and prepared to go the extra mile.

  • Give your staff autonomy and room to grow

How many times have you heard someone utter the phrase, “I really appreciate how my boss micromanages every aspect of my job.”  Unless you’re lying, it’s probably never!  Most of us value autonomy and we all want to feel in control of our time and energy.  Staff who feel they are being watched too closely and micro- managed feel less motivated and perform at a lower level.    Build a culture of delegation, empowerment and broad-based job descriptions, allowing employees to fill in the gaps. Encourage employees to work to overall goals rather than daily instruction to give them the freedom and scope to be creative and work in the best way they deem possible to reach their goals. It’s a much more rewarding and motivational way to work.  Granting autonomy also demonstrates that you trust your team, which will go a long way towards forming the emotional bond between employer and employee that you see at highly engaged companies.

Also, think about giving your staff room to grow, ideally within your company but if this isn’t possible, it may be better to graduate an employee’s development to help them get to where they want to, as this will be motivating and encourage high performance whilst they are with you.  Nothing saps an employee’s motivation like the feeling that they’re stuck in a dead-end job.

  • Share positive feedback.

It’s great to feel fulfilled by your work. In fact, it’s one of the key job satisfaction factors. Satisfaction in your work can come from a variety of places — from knowing you helped resolve a customer’s query to hosting the perfect visit from your key client . And if your customers express appreciation for these things, be sure to share that feedback with your employees. Letting your employees know they made someone’s day (or more) makes them feel good — and gives them a deeper connection to your business.

  • Be transparent.

Having insight into how business is going makes your employees more invested. Make a point to share this with them on a regular basis – you may even get some great ideas in response that you hadn’t thought of.  Sharing the company’s vision, plans and performance, together with explaining the reason behind these key decisions, will you get much higher buy-in from your employees.

  • Be flexible

Technology has changed the way businesses operate, and it has also changed the way we work. If employees are able (and expected) to check work emails on their phones or finish projects on their laptops at home, it’s reasonable for them to want a similar flexibility from their employers. Similarly, if your team stay late to get an important order out on time or meet a critical deadline, then it’s all about give and take.  If you want to be viewed as a progressive employer and attract / retain top talent, then think about ways in which you can be flexible so as to create a win:win.  Work from home day? Finish early it’s Friday? Need to go to your child’s sports day – just take a couple of hours – no need to book the day off.  Treating your team with respect and maturity pays dividends in the long run.  If anyone is found to be abusing the privilege, then deal with that misconduct – don’t penalise the other members of team who will respect the opportunity and give more back in the long run.

  • Recognise their achievements.

Sometimes all people want is some recognition for a job well done. A simple thank you costs nothing but can mean such a huge amount.  If an employee has been putting in a lot of time working on a project, or they went out of their way to help out a colleague, do not hesitate to praise them. It’s not just about the act of recognition, but the principle: If people feel that their efforts are appreciated, they will feel compelled to continue working hard. Employees whose achievements were recognised also have reported that they experience higher levels of enjoyment out of the work they do. But if they feel like their long hours and personal sacrifices were for nothing, it’s unlikely that they will go out of their way for the company again. So, whether it’s noting their contributions in a meeting, recognising them in a staff email or just thanking them privately, it’s imperative that you show hardworking employees your gratitude.

  1. Encourage Friendly Competition

Emphasis here is on the friendly.  Competition can be a great motivator but if you let it get out of hand, conflict will rise as you see morale and teamwork deteriorate.  If you decide to engage your team in some competition make sure it stays in the realm of fun and not cut throat.  The challenge is not to get your top performers to perform better, it is also to train them to pull up everyone around them and build a well-oiled machine.  Although individual successes can be hugely rewarding, often team wins can have an even bigger impact.  It’s important to find the right balance when incentivizing your team – a mix of individual and group goals along with clear rules that promote collaboration over sabotage are essential to long-term success.

  1. Remember the Golden Rule

If you want motivated employees—remember the Golden Rule.  You were probably once an employee, reporting in to a manager. Remember all the things your boss did that drove you crazy and made you leave …. and don’t do them.  On a practical level, think about the best and worst bosses you’ve ever had; identify your least favourite manager throughout your career and make a list of everything that rubbed you the wrong way about them.

Now think of your favourite boss. What was it that made them so inspiring? Write it down and go over those lists and look for traits or behaviours that you recognise in yourself. Develop a strategy to avoid the negative behaviours and do more of the positive ones.

  1. Celebrate Wins

Don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate when things go well.  The “work hard, play hard” mantra is a bit outdated, but remember that recognition, gratitude and appreciation can go far.  It may be a small team lunch, drinks after work, ice creams on a hot afternoon or a trip away – some budgets will be big and some will be small – but the motivational impact on the team of recognising a job well done is worth its weight in gold.

And finally don’t forget to……

Ask them what they want.

Instead of trying guess what’s most important to them, actually sit down with them and find out what they value. Doing the unexpected might be the best thing you can do for your employees, and your company.

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