How To Keep Your Employees Motivated

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Even the best team can face some doldrums once in a while.  Individual team members may run into frustrating problems, or have personal problems that, while it may not affect their work performance, can ding their overall attitude.

So how can you turn it around and keep them motivated?  Here are five tips.

#1) Focus On Workplace Happiness, Not “Motivation”

Motivation, it must be said, is an intangible.  You can’t bottle it and slip it in the coffee.  What you can do, however, is focus on what makes your employees happy to come to work.  Zappos is widely considered at the forefront of building a workplace culture that ranges from encouraging managers to goof off with employees to making sure that the seemingly little stuff is taken care of.  If an employee comes to you and complains about a broken lightbulb, making sure it gets fixed pronto goes a long way towards making it clear you care about their comfort level at work.

#2) Give Employees an Outlet to Criticize and Praise

The “comments box” is a workplace tradition, often made fun of, and the subject of a thousand sitcom plots.  So why is it still around?

Because it works. True, you have to take some of the things you read with a grain of salt.  And not everything will be something you can act on.  But being able to gather employee complaints (and praise) anonymously means you’ll be able to see what can be fixed, and where your communications might be breaking down.

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#3) Encourage Friendly Competition

True, some businesses are naturally competitive, but others are a bit more sedate.  Try bringing in a way for employees to compete, but in a friendly, open way.  For example, if there’s a difficult problem being faced at Digital Elephant, CEO Jason Kulpa puts a bounty on it: Whoever can create the most efficient and effective solution gets a hefty prize.  Just make sure that at the end of the day, employees understand that they’re all on the same team, and keep the rivalry friendly.

#4) Put Their Work Into Context

It can be difficult to keep the big picture in mind, especially when you’re working hard over one small part of it, day in and day out.  So, take a moment to show your employees what their work is worth and what it does for other people.  Adam Grant, a management professor at Wharton, found he could motivate call center employees calling for donations to a scholarship fund to more than double their productivity. How? He had them meet with students who got through school on their hard work.

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#5) Make Sure They’re Invested in the Business’ Success

This can take all sorts of forms: PR agency archer-malmo shares profits with its 30 employees, for example.  Some companies will sell stock to their employees directly.  Or it might be a matter of pride in a competitive industry, such as Southwest Airlines.  The point is, really, each employee should be invested, whether financially or emotionally, in your company doing well.

It’s true that at the end of the day, some employees will work hard for you but never be fully invested in your company.  But that’s no reason not to make the effort; after all, if you put some work into motivating your employees… you might just find yourself motivated into the bargain.

Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/4722297430/sizes/m/in/photostream/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2137729430/sizes/m/in/photostream/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetonveg/5008524257/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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