Article by Jackie Richards 19.09.16
You’re a busy small business owner, running around trying to be everything to everyone to ensure your business thrives, but what about the staff you’ve left floundering back at the office? Do you think they will be motivated if they never get to see their boss, for help, reassurance and most importantly, a bit of praise now and then for all of the hours they’re putting in for you?!
I have worked in all sectors during my 20+ years in HR and have seen many disengaged employees for usually similar reasons, the main ones being as follows:-
- They have been in the same job doing the same thing for many years and lack motivation;
- They are in the wrong role but too afraid to admit this and look elsewhere.
- They have poor managers who do not care about what they are doing, so do not make the work interesting, or show an interest in their employees;
- In some workplaces, people are being bullied by insecure managers but they don’t have the courage to speak up about it;
- Lack of communication within organisations – the people at the top don’t communicate what they are doing and where the company is heading, so the staff don’t feel involved in the bigger picture.
And all of these factors result in reduced productivity and hence revenue – I’ve seen a lot of companies who are ‘surviving’ but could do so much better if they focused on the most important asset they have – their people.
Some of the above might not apply to you, but I’m sure you can relate to one or two there? And putting it right does not have to cost the Earth. Here are some suggestions on how to motivate your people, so that they look forward to coming into work and want to do their very best for you and your company:-
1. Communication – In any business it’s important to ensure two way communication. Employees need to feel that their voice and concerns are heard and if needed, action is taken. You should tell them your plans for the business and listen to their opinions, as the more involved they feel, the more committed they will be to the company.
If possible, have monthly team meetings to give your employees updates on the company’s progress and ask for ideas for new products or services, or improvements that can be made to existing ones – this will encourage innovation and creativity within your team. You should view your team as a family working together to achieve a common goal and let them know that too.
2. Trust your staff – give them some autonomy and/or responsibility for their work. If they are doing a good job, this will be an inexpensive reward – recognition for their efforts and some people are motivated by status. Find out what motivates each employee, as it will be different in each case and then work with that to get the best out of them.
3. Training and support – don’t assume that once you’ve recruited someone they will ‘hit the ground running’ – find out exactly what they are capable and then fill in the gaps with some training and support. This doesn’t have to be by you, it could be by one of your employees with as much or more experience than you in the area required and support them by asking them how they are getting on and if they need any further help.
4. Recognition – give praise where praise is due and if it’s something exceptional, thank them publicly for their efforts and give them a small reward – it does not have to be anything excessive, but a token of your appreciation will go a long way! We are all human and need praise from time to time, so encourage a culture of employees congratulating co-workers for their achievements, so working relationships remain healthy.
George Dickson at Office Vibe has recently posted The 12 Things You Need For Successful Employee Recognition which provides even more tips on doing this for free, the link is below:-
5. Offer incentives to high performers – they don’t have to be expensive rewards, just a bottle of wine for your top performer of the month or a gift voucher, anything to show appreciation will incentivize them to keep performing at that level, or indeed higher, to beat the competition.
6. Constructive feedback – if someone has done something wrong, take them into a private office and discuss it with them. Try to start the meeting with a positive – “You’ve been producing some good work recently, but …..” Don’t chastise them, ask them why they did made the error and what they think they can do to put it right. Work together to find a solution and they will feel more motivated to ensure they don’t make that mistake again.
7. Employee wellbeing – in a start-up everyone has to ‘muck in’ and do what’s required to win business, but at what cost? Is an employee really going to be productive and sound motivated on the phone to your potential customers when they are exhausted and feeling unappreciated? Make sure you ask employees regularly how they are feeling to ascertain whether the long hours are affecting them, make sure they have breaks and take time off wherever possible in your quieter periods. As in my October blog: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/workplace-stress-things-ever-going-get-any-better-richards-mcipd?trk=mp-author-card workplace stress can lead to a number of ongoing mental health problems which will result in reduced productivity and absenteeism costs in the long run if you do not nip it in the bud!
8. Employee benefits – if as an employer you can’t afford to pay high salaries or reward high performers by increasing their salary, there are some very inexpensive benefits schemes out there now for small businesses. Paybooster UK offer flexible health and wellbeing packages to employers costing as little as £52 per year per employee. For more information visit http://www.PayBosterUK.org
9. Have fun! – we are in work a long part of our day, so the workplace should not be all doom and gloom – introduce humour at times (appropriately, of course!) to liven things up, encourage brief chats about home to help staff relax and get to know each other better, or go out and buy staff cakes or icecream on a hot summer’s day – all these little things make a difference to making people happy and happy = productive.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog
Jackie Richards MCIPD
T: 07807 166456
Thanks to Author and Thought Leader Vlatka Hlupic for the inspiration to write this blog
Thanks to DesignTec for the image