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Employee Motivation Tips Every Leader Should Know

How motivated are your employees?

The question of employee motivation is one every business leader should ask on a regular basis.

In a survey conducted by Drewberry on employees of UK SME’s, it was found that 62.3% of workers are ‘somewhat happy’ or ‘very happy’ in their job. This leaves 37.7% of staff who are unhappy, unmotivated, and disengaged.

There are many reasons why you should motivate your staff in the workplace: it encourages retention, happier teams are more efficient, productive, and innovative, which leads to improvements in overall business performance. So, here are 14 tips all of us business leaders should be following to motivate staff.

1. Spot the signs of low motivation early

There are often clear indicators in behaviour that an individual employee isn’t engaged or motivated. These signs include, but are not limited to poor performance, a lack of engagement in communications; never offering new ideas or lacking enthusiasm, not turning up for work or just watching the clock when they do. High staff turnover or low retention rates are also a sure sign that your employees are not engaged enough or happy in your business. It’s important to spot these signs early on so you can do something about it, using the next 13 tips!

2. Share your vision

People are intrinsically motivated by having a sense of purpose – do your employees know theirs?

Do they really understand where your business is heading and how their role contributes towards that?

Once you unite all your employees around your company vision, they will have something to work for. That’s why you should write  a clear, concise, and workable company vision.

3. Give your employees clarity

Not only should you give staff clarity on the company vision, but also give them clarity for them as an individual. What are their personal objectives in relation to the vision? Are your expectations clear? What career and progression opportunities are available for them, should they consistently perform? Communicating with employees in a transparent and honest way is imperative to keeping them motivated.

4. Provide a sense of ownership

Some employees are driven by having ownership of their role within your business. Having this autonomy and responsibility in line with their abilities, helps them feel like a valuable part of the team and gives them a sense of personal pride in their work.

5. Create strong, personal connections

Probably one of the most important tips of all. Get to know them! How can you try motivating someone if you don’t know what motivates them? Spend one-to-one time with your key employees, and if you run a bigger organisation, encourage your managers to do so too with their staff. It also gives employees an opportunity to use their voice. A lack of general support from managers or co-workers caused workplace unhappiness for 40.3% of workers last year, so it’s key to make sure your employees feel heard.

6. Understand employee behaviours

Every person is different and so are their motivators. In a similar way to tip five, get to know your employees’ by understanding their behaviour. Personality tests and tools such as DiSC profiles can help with this. Having open, honest conversations about how people work can improve communication and productivity in the workplace, and the more your staff feel understood, the more likely they are to stay and perform.

7. Allow time for team building

We’re not just talking about team building in the ‘build a tower out of spaghetti’ kind of way.

We mean create more opportunities for your teams to socialise, especially if you have a lot of staff who are motivated by collaboration. Having parties, group activities, casual lunches and other gatherings helps to build bonds between team members, engaging each of them in work in a natural way.  But ask what they want to do when it comes to the activities.

8. Talk to other leaders

Do you know other business leaders who seem to have this staff motivation thing sorted? Talk to them. Ask them to share their experiences, especially what failures they may have faced in the past. There is real value in hearing it from someone else who is going through the same thing as you are, and you might come away with some strategies to apply to your own employee motivation efforts.

9. Improve the work perks

47.4% of SMEs have introduced employee benefits to support staff since the COVID-19 outbreak, and it’s made a big difference to overall employee satisfaction. Wherever you can, try and improve the benefits of working for your organisation. That doesn’t necessarily mean having to provide health insurance but can be simple things like having more fruit available in the office or sending food packages home to remote workers. Little gestures go a long way for staff to feel valued and thought after.

10. Invest in training

Are you giving your staff opportunities to learn and develop? Some people are motivated by learning and being challenged. If you’re not investing in training, to help your staff more forward in their careers, it could come off as if you don’t care and they might move to somewhere that does. 46.4% of staff want to see their employer offer benefits that help train or educate them in line with their career goals. So, a good place to start is by finding out each employee’s goals and where they might appreciate some training.

11. Create the right working environment

Many factors come into the ‘right’ working environment; the strength of your team, personalities, flexibility of hours, office/remote based working and the list could go on. However, the culture of your organisation is a major contributor to employee motivation, and your company’s success. Improving your company culture could massively improve your retention figures. Are your employees aligned with your values? Are you all working in a toxic or an exciting environment? Work with your employees to create a culture and environment you are all happy with.

12. Provide feedback

Employees begin to lose motivation when they feel like they are working in a vacuum. Offering regular, productive feedback through one-to-one meetings and mentoring programs is a powerful way to reinforce good work habits and to demonstrate that you care about the person doing the job as much as you care about the work itself.

13. Celebrate successes

Celebrating an employee’s success is, for some people, more motivating than constructive feedback. So, reward them in whatever way feels appropriate. No one wants to work at a thankless job and an employee who never feels recognised for their contributions will eventually start to lose their motivation.

14. Never take employee motivation levels for granted

Our last tip. Don’t ignore your employee’s motivation levels. If they’re high, appreciate them and come alongside them in their enthusiasm. What a joy to have someone as excited about your business as you are!

If they’re unmotivated, come alongside them again and find out what makes them tick. What is making them unsatisfied and what can you do to help? Don’t guess, ask them. This could not only improve things for your business, but also for the lives of all the people who work for you.


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Thank you to Elliot Rich, Ed Reid, and Jonathan Smith for their participation in the creation of this article.


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