Employees who are not engaged in their work can bring an organization down, cause problems with productivity, and lead to overall unhealthy company culture. These unmotivated employees also affect the bottom line, costing US companies roughly $500 billion per year in lost productivity.
On the other hand, engaged employees are more likely to show up to work on time, stay employed at a company longer, and be more productive. These engaged employees make an organization successful. Unfortunately, only 34% of the workforce in the United States feels engaged.
The good news is that there are ways to motivate employees and improve their productivity. According to psychologist Frederick Herzberg, founder of the motivator-hygiene theory, job happiness consists of two parts. One is having job satisfaction and the other is the lack of job dissatisfaction.
According to Herzberg, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are created by different factors. Employees feel satisfied with their jobs if they are recognized, challenged, and in control. These are motivating factors.
Conversely, when employees don’t feel like they’re getting reasonable hygiene factors like compensation, paid time off, security, or great benefits, they tend to be dissatisfied.
The ideal working environments would have high levels of motivation and hygiene. In this scenario, the employee would feel appreciated, challenged, be paid well, and get an adequate amount of vacation time.
Conversely, a negative work environment would be low in hygiene and low motivation factors. In this situation, the employee would not like the work and feel she was inadequately compensated and probably see little reason to continue working there. She may not work quite as hard if she isn’t motivated to do so.
This theory supports the idea that you can’t fix an employee’s lack of motivation simply by throwing money at the problem (i.e. offering them a bigger paycheck, additional time off, etc.). That’s why it’s important to know which factors actually motivate people to work harder and stay with you.
The good news is that Herzberg’s theory can be applied to any organization. In order to get employees to be more productive and engaged, focus on Herzberg’s motivation factors with these strategies:
- Offer Multiple Methods of Employee Advancement
Employees quickly become bored when they feel like they’re going through the motions every day. Their jobs become stagnant because they see no opportunity for career advancement. To resolve this issue, make sure that all of the employees within your organization have opportunities to advance their careers. While it may not be possible to give everyone a promotion, it is still possible to offer them opportunities with learning and mentorship.
One option is to provide educational incentives such as covering all or part of the expense of taking classes at a local university. Another option is to provide informal education by offering online programs, seminars, and conferences. You can create a mentorship program where you can match less experienced employees with someone who’s been with the company for a while.
- Provide Ongoing Recognition in a Meaningful Way
If employees accomplish milestones without being recognized or appreciated, it can cause motivation to plummet and their work ethic to decline.
It’s easy to provide ongoing appreciation in a meaningful way. This motivation needs to be provided in a timely manner — and specific — so that the employee feels that they are appreciated for a specific accomplishment. It also needs to be sincere so the person will know they’re appreciated. One way to do this is to provide recognition during group meetings and make a point to acknowledge specific employees for work that they’ve done.
“People crave recognition. Recognition serves a worthwhile purpose. Recognition confirms you’re doing the right thing and encourages you to keep doing it. Plus the act of giving and receiving recognition makes both the giver and receiver feel good, thanks to the hit of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter,” says Liz Guthridge, a performance coach, and employee engagement expert.
Tony Aldridge, sales manager, and expert motivator share a similar view, “Some people like to have their name up in lights while others like a simple email. Remember that everyone likes their recognition in their own way and it is our job as leaders to understand that.”
- Make the Most of Gamification
By taking some of the mundane tasks that people perform on a daily basis and turning them into a game, you can help motivate employees and get them to take their tasks more seriously. In order to do this, think of different tasks as a videogame where employees get badges whenever they reach certain milestones (i.e. number of positive customer surveys).
You can also encourage employees to participate in a team-wide event to win monthly trophies for those outstanding performers. You can turn these into competitions that are centered around a specific goal for the business and foster a little friendly competition.
- Stop Micromanaging
Robby Slaughter, the productivity expert, stated that one of the best tools for increasing productivity is actually to “encourage autonomy by not micromanaging.
“The best way to encourage productivity is to encourage individuals to take ownership over how they manage their own time and resources,” says Slaughter, “This is a wonderfully self-correcting process: we want people who are self-starters and are able to operate independently. Granting workers freedom over when, how, and where they work creates proof of their work ethic in a way that trying to control them cannot.”
In this scenario, the goal is to get better results by not micromanaging employees. Autonomy can be a better motivator than financial reward. In order to make this happen though, managers have to be willing to trust their employees and break their micromanaging habits. They’re able to coach them when it’s needed but not try to complete tasks for them.
- Remove yourself from the team
- Tell employees your expectations instead of giving them specific methods to complete tasks
- Ask your employees how they would like to be managed
Realize that each employee may be motivated differently. Pay attention to your staff and test out different methods for boosting productivity and motivation.