Motivation is as simple, and as complicated, as you might expect it to be. Every single person is motivated by something different, which makes the art of motivating groups of people extremely difficult to master.
It’s a misconception that money is the best and most effective way to motivate employees to reach new goals and do amazing work. For some, a bonus or a permanent raise might be an okay temporary motivator, but the best methods of motivating people don’t involve money at all, and they last much longer than money ever will.
Here are five ways you can motivate your employees that have nothing to do with money.
1. Designate an Employee of the Week
Everyone needs a little push to get them from point A (Monday) to point B (Friday). One way to provide this kind of boost is to offer a weekly or monthly superlative, such as Employee of the Week or Employee of the Month.
Maybe all a person gets for their hard work is a certificate or their name on a white board for a week. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Psychologically, just being recognized publicly for a job well done is enough to motivate someone to continue working hard.
2. Separate them into teams and turn work into a competition
It’s easy to put 20 people into an office space, give them each their own cubicle and list of tasks they are responsible for completing, on their own, for the duration of their employment. This may be typical, and remotely effective, but it isn’t very motivational. There’s a way to motivate employees to get more work done: competition.
Competition really does change everything – or it can, under the right circumstances. It gives employees another reason to arrive at work and do their jobs to the best of their ability. A little friendly competition amongst co-workers is an incentive that feels extremely rewarding, especially when there’s an end goal.
Separate your employees into teams. Even if all groups are working toward accomplishing the same task, set a numeric goal and see which team can reach or exceed it first. Remind them why reaching that goal matters and how they will be helping the company in reaching it.
3. Make everyone feel important
There’s nothing less motivating than feeling stuck in a cubicle doing the exact same work over and over again. Employees who feel like just another robot along the assembly line are going to find it much harder to improve and do their best possible work day in and day out.
Some people need to be met with new challenges every once in awhile. Some need leadership opportunities within a project or department, even small ones like being in charge of organizing a potluck. Some people need to be given opportunities to advance their skills or learn new ones. Some just need to be told they are doing a great job, and to keep up the good work.
Everyone should be treated as a leader. Pay close attention to each employee’s strengths and assign work that best highlights those strengths. Communicate to that employee that they are setting a great example for others and that you are grateful for their support and hard work. They need to be reminded their work matters, too.
4. Focus on improvement and small rewards
Every ounce of feedback that is ever given toward a group of employees or individually should be positive. People like to feel as though they are making progress toward a specific milestone, even if they’re doing so slowly. They want to be able to figure out how to do what they’re doing a little bit better than they already are.
Never focus too much on criticism or negative feedback in the workplace. It’s discouraging and, ultimately, unproductive. Instead, focus on helping employees come up with their own ways to improve workflow and encourage them to share ideas of how processes and systems can be improved.
Also offer small, tangible rewards for a job well done. Sometimes, small rewards can mean so much more to an employee than money ever will. Think about it: even with a bonus, the money still gets dumped directly into a bank account. There’s nothing tangible to hold onto. However, a paid half-day off from work or a free department lunch makes someone think, “Wow. All that hard work really was worth it!”
5. Always bring it back to your mission statement
It’s temping, in company meetings and quarterly reports, to focus on numbers. Anyone can fill a slideshow with charts and graphs. As a manager or CEO, it’s technically your job to keep track of reports like these. However, while they might be useful to you and your higher-up managing staff, they don’t do a very good job of motivating everyone to do their best work.
Spend no more than five minutes on going over numbers in a meeting or in summarizing a quarterly report. Spend the majority of the time focusing on highlighting the more concrete things your employees have accomplished, and how it is helping the business meet its goals. Focus on the mission statement.
Your company’s mission statement should focus on the impact your company hopes to make in its respective industry. Each employee you hire, in some way, is contributing to fulfilling that mission statement. Make that the focal point each time you address the group as a whole or during individual progress reports. People want to know that what they are doing matters, even if they sit at a computer answering emails all day.
It’s important to pay close attention to your staff and learn what motivates them individually and as a whole. This takes a little bit more work and plenty of interpersonal awareness, but it’s worth it. When motivated, people have the potential to be productive as an entire group.
Even if they are all doing separate work on their own, feeling as though what they are doing is actually making a difference, and feeling as if they are a smaller part of a larger whole, is enough motivation to last quite a long time.