How to keep your workforce motivated

How to keep your workforce motivated

It’s pitch black outside; freezing cold and the alarm is going off, signaling the end of the festive break, and the return to work. It’s enough to strike terror into even the most enthusiastic employee!

At this time of year, one of the greatest challenges for any business leader is how to motivate the workforce, quickly and efficiently to start the year as you mean to go on.

The first step is to embrace the feeling of your workforce – it’s highly likely you’ll be feeling the same. After all, it’s scientifically proven that the negative emotions associated with the end of the festive period, following two weeks of irregularity can throw our body clocks out of synch to the point of jet lag!

But once this initial period has passed and our bodies are back in sync (like we have never been away) what else can be done to incentivise employees and keep them motivated.

Increase Pay
The obvious motivation for many. And yet, although the UK has made a significant recovery following the global recession, we are not out of the woods. Some companies are still reticent to boost permanent pay, meaning they have to find alternative ways to keep their staff motivated.

Flexible working
An increasingly popular motivational tool is to offer flexible working hours to employees. This is particularly important for the younger generation in the workplace today, the ‘millennial’ generation, who almost expect this to create a healthier work/life balance.

The rise of technology and bring your own device (BYOD) to work has played a part in this as more professionals have access to systems that mean they can effectively carry out their jobs from anyway. It’s particularly beneficial to those with a family or small children who may have to balance work commitments around a busy schedule.

However, as recent research has shown, this has to be carefully managed in line with employer expectations, as just because work can be accessed at home, doesn’t mean for employees they should be on call 24 / 7. Any allusion to this can quickly undo all the work associated with setting up a flexible working opportunity.

Training and Development
In a world where technology is evolving at a rapid pace and affecting every aspect of our lives, keeping up to date is integral to success and should be embraced by employers with continuous opportunities for training and development actively encouraged.

For employees the opportunity to actively learn in the workplace is likely to prove that their employers care about their ongoing development, with movement to grow within the business.

It can also help in simpler terms – by building on existing skill sets firms can improve the day-to-day performance of their staff, which is only going to make them happier to do their jobs. They’re also likely to gain a better understanding of how their work fits into that of the overall organisation that will only improve motivation amongst the workforce.

Work with Benefits
We all like to be treated as individuals, in both our personal and our work lives. So when employers offer flexible packages to employees tailored to individual preferences as opposed to ‘one size fits all’ it is always appreciated.

This generally takes the form of a ‘menu’ of incentives that staff can choose from. The perks can range from traditional schemes such as contributing to a pension to lifestyle-orientated benefits such as shopping vouchers or subsidised gym membership.

Regardless of the options on offer, these types of packages are likely to motivate individuals who will feel their employer is willing to be flexible to meet their demands.

Working with Senior Figures
For the majority, gone are the days when senior partners hide away in their offices. Today, they are more likely to integrate with staff and be involved in certain projects. While it may not sound that significant, it can especially work with junior professionals who can see their work is being valued and they can take the opportunity to make an immediate impact.

Another technique, coming in with the evolution of hot desking in the office workspace, is to create opportunities to not only move up through the business, but also across into areas that professionals may have a specific interest. This means that if an individual was to grow tired of their role, they would feel confident they could take on another position without having to leave the organisation.

Holiday Options
Perhaps still a little radical for some organization, but Virgin and Netflix are amongst high profile companies taking the lead in offering staff, ‘unlimited holiday’ to be taken whenever they desire.

The approach is putting the onus and trust solely on employees to ensure work is up to date before they leave and that their absence will not damage the business (or their own careers!)

The same is true for maternity and paternity options. With Facebook founder Mark Zuckeberg declaring he is taking three month’s paternity leave as opposed to the traditional two weeks, and again, Virgin offering up to a year, employees can be motivated by the fact that their employer understands there is more to life than work.

While many would suggest this idea may be open to abuse, these options, carefully managed, undoubtedly aid in motivating and attracting staff to believe in themselves to control their own career and worklife balance.

What are your top tips for motivating employees?