Any manager or supervisor will tell you that no single motivational method works on everyone. For example, fear might work on some employees, but it’s a losing bet overall. It ultimately demoralizes everyone. So, what motivational methods can you use to appeal to the largest number of employees?
People respond to specific goals, yet supervisors and even executives often speak in gross generalizations. Phrases like “work harder” or “put in your full effort” don’t motivate people because they set no specific benchmarks. Instead of talking in generalities, lay out specific targets. You can say that a plant needs to increase unit production by 5% by the end of the month. It’s specific and you can break that down into actionable steps.
Takeaway: Get specific about the goals you want to hit. It gives employees something to latch onto.
Treat Work-Life Balance Seriously
Employees have lives outside the workplace. Acting like they don’t or shouldn’t only serves to demotivate them. Make it easy for employees to schedule their vacation days. If your business model can accommodate it, offer flextime or remote work. These options can show you understand your employees have real demands on them outside the walls of the business. As a bonus, remote workers often prove more motivated and productive.
Takeaway: Employees who know you’ll make it easier for them to deal with at-home responsibilities will be more motivated on the job.
Create a Recognition Program
Employees often feel underappreciated or unacknowledged for their efforts. A recognition program allows you to single out employees that perform well or achieve something in a public way. Pro tip: Try to spread the love around. If the same employee always gets the recognition, the program loses its power.
Not everyone responds with the same level of enthusiasm to the same incentives. While some employees will do almost anything for a cash bonus, others will do almost anything for an extra vacation day. While you can’t always know everyone’s preferences, you can offer a range of incentive options and let employees choose. Letting employees pick a preferred incentive means they make an emotional investment in the prize. An emotional investment creates a much stronger motivation.
Takeaway: Individualized incentives can create a better motivational environment because people pick things they care about.
Motivating employees isn’t a cookie-cutter process. Different employees will respond strongly to different motivational methods. A few of the most successful approaches include clear communication, work-life balance options, recognition programs and individualized incentives. A combination of these approaches will cover most of your employees.
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