5 ways to motivate employees and create a positive workplace

Written by
Jessie Avery

30 Jan 2017

30 Jan 2017 • by Jessie Avery

When it comes to motivating our teams, it is often easier to manage, encourage and develop those with obvious ambition. Their career path is clearly recognised, and the skills and experience required are well documented for their success.

Ensuring all employees have a career path makes sound commercial sense, but how do we inspire, grow and retain employees, who may have no ambitions to sit at the CEO’s desk one day?

Here are some of my top tips for incentivising a team to reach their full potential, while remaining satisfied in their current role and workplace.

1. Drive the company vision and values

As a manager, you need to be an advocate for your staff as well as the company. Many employees, particularly millennials are more likely to look for meaning and influence in their work and aren’t content simply punching a clock. Helping them understand their role in a larger plan gives them a clearer sense of purpose, making them feel valued, which in turn boosts productivity.

2. Identify individual needs

Let’s start with this question – does money motivate? Meta-analysis by Tim Judge indicates the association between salary and job satisfaction is very weak and reported there is less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction levels. According to Daniel Pink people accomplish more when they are given autonomy, opportunity for mastery, and the belief their task is meaningful. By identifying your employees’ main personality traits, you’ll find it’s easier to work out what they need in order to value their position and achieve day-to-day success.

Generally speaking, many team members possess particular traits (e.g. they may be an introvert, extrovert, ambivert passive or dynamic etc.) and each personality type is motivated by different needs.

For example; introverts need tasks that they can do alone in a private space, allowing freedom and flexibility, whereas extroverts crave people, interaction and activity. Take some time to understand different workplace personalities. The more you understand what drives someone, the easier it will be to adapt your management style to one that will bring out the best in each person. 

3. Consider generational differences

It’s not only diverse personalities you need to consider, but generational differences as well. The key is to effectively focus and take advantage of the differences in principles and expectations of each generation. Younger employees can gain insight and experience offered by senior employees. Older employees can be inspired by a fresh perspective from younger employees.

Facilitate mentoring between different aged employees to boost cross-generational interaction and train your managers to recognise these differences and in turn, adapt to preferential learning and training styles. It’s vital managers change rather than trying to change staff. 

4. Create incentives for different career stages

As managers, we often recruit in our own image and assume all members of our team have the same ambitions as ourselves. Whilst many do want to quickly climb the career ladder, there may be others who do not see this as an urgent priority. This does not mean these people aren't ambitious – just they don't wish to learn new skills or advance their careers right now. It’s important to work out what will motivate individuals if a pay-rise or promotion is not the driving force.

For example: a good way to motivate single parents might be to offer them flexible working hours, or on-site daycare. Eliminating any elements leading to job dissatisfaction is also a good way to ensure that even if these individuals are not currently keen for promotion, they still want to remain working at your company.

At the other end of the spectrum it’s also key to boost morale when someone is keen to progress, but promotion opportunities are not available. Consider lateral moves for these individuals. A change in responsibility or role can be just as refreshing and motivating as moving up the organisation. Take a hard look at each of your team member’s skills and work with them on ones they can improve. By developing in-between steps, managers can meet their employee’s desire for progression and provide them with the tools needed for larger, future career advancement.

5. Inspire intrapreneurs

On a regular basis, allow team members to work on something that inspires or interests them. Many companies have followed in the footsteps of Google's "20% time", in which employees spend one day a week on whatever they want. Personal endeavours from "20% time" resulted in Gmail, Google News and AdSense. While you might not have the resources to let employees spend a significant amount of time working on their own ventures, more freedom and flexibility to pursue individual projects allows employees to become your own business ‘intrapreneurs’ who take the initiative, embrace creativity and are capable of driving corporate innovation.

As managers we must remember talent comes in many forms, requiring different approaches to get the best out of it. All employees play a crucial role in your business, regardless of whether or not they want to climb the corporate ladder. We must strive to find ways to excite and motivate people in their current roles to achieve maximum satisfaction and productivity in the workplace.

Love this article? For more information and tips about growing your business, check out the Living Business website here.