Guest Blog by Paul Lander, Farms.com
Simple Tips for Managers to Keep Employees Motivated and Productive
For most people, work is an inescapable reality. People work because they have to, not necessarily because they want to. Yes, there are “dream jobs”, but most people don’t work there. Yes, there are “high paying” jobs, but a lot people don’t work there either. For everyone else who gets up early and pushes through a tough day at work for average pay, a little recognition from their boss from time-to-time can go long way.
There are so many easy ways to positively recognize employees. Many employers use formal recognition programs for employees, including recognition for years of service, bonuses for exceptional performance, employee of the month honors, etc. But there are also plenty of simple informal employee recognition methods that are actually easier to apply and maintain – starting with your attitude.
Being a black cloud at work rains on everyone’s day. Saying good morning, or simply smiling as you enter your workplace gives your employees a sense of well-being, and reinforces that they are in a safe and friendly environment. Come in with a scowl on your face and make no effort to say hello, well, you can guess how your employees feel about that.
Far too often, employee morale is affected by ineffective management. Employees can easily suffer from diminished morale if management makes little perceived effort to support them. That doesn’t mean holding their hands all day and praising them for doing their job as expected, but it does mean recognizing first that these are real people and their work is not always easy. Not recognizing your employee’s work frustrations or not being open to constructive feedback about company processes and practices that can sometimes cause frustration, you have effectively told your employee that you don’t recognize them, and that they should just do the job they’re paid for, or get out.
While not every employee will be a star, it’s important to remember that you hired them for a reason. Employees want to be valued and respected. You may never see an employee go above and beyond their duties – which is fine, you really only pay them to do what you hired them to do. But you can still acknowledge them for coming to work every day and trying their best. And what about those employees who are consistently going beyond their call of duty? Those employees putting in the extra effort to achieve greater results in the same amount of time?
By simply recognizing an employee, you can also inspire other employees to work to the best of their abilities. “Wow, Susan, you really got through all those invoices quickly. Our customers will greatly appreciate that, as do I! Let’s go for lunch and celebrate – on me”. While a free lunch may not seem to be as rewarding as a huge cash bonus, it still informally recognizes the additional effort given by the employee and leaves them feeling valued and respected. If this type of behavior is a regular occurrence, why not consider recognizing that employee formally with a pay raise, or more vacation time, or an annual bonus?
The Benefits of Employee Recognition
• Employee’s feel valued, respected, and appreciated
• Improves employee morale
• Improves employee loyalty
• Creates a supported work environment
• Increases employee motivation
• Improves employee retention
Informal Employee Recognition Ideas
• Maintain a positive, friendly, and open work environment
• Verbalize appreciation and politeness towards employees
• Give employees handwritten notes or cards of thanks
• Recognize personal milestones, such as weddings, births, etc.
• Announce employee achievements in your employee newsletter
• Team recognition (recognize a team effort for a job well done)
• Take employees out for lunch
• Give employees gift cards – ideally gift cards that complement their personal interests
• Bring coffee and donuts to meetings
• Share positive feedback from other managers / employees about performance
• Allow employees to leave an hour early, or give them an afternoon / day off
• Team building activities
• Pay for courses or conferences to help employees enhance their careers
• Say sorry when you’re wrong (which is hardly ever, right?)
Formal Employee Recognition Ideas
• Incentive programs (bonuses, commissions, etc)
• Pay raises for exceptional achievements, or length of service
• Vacation time increases for exceptional achievements, or length of service
• Awards and certificates of achievement
• Promotion, elevation of position (senior vs junior)
While there are many ways to formally and informally recognize your employees, creating an inviting workplace that maintains respect for others, promotes sharing and openness, and encourages employees to work hard is the first step. Employees who work in enriching environments may not need all the formal recognition that another employer may need to deploy just to keep the staff coming back every day.