Motivational Strategies for the Workplace

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Each year, disengaged workers cost American companies $300 billion in lost productivity. More than 18 percent of employees are unhappy at work, and 52 percent perform their daily duties without enthusiasm.

From paid time off to educational opportunities, companies use a variety of motivational strategies in business. Their impact, though, depends on your industry, organizational culture and employees' individual needs. Knowing which ones to use can help reduce your turnover rates and boost productivity in the workplace.

Motivational Strategies in Business

Employees who are motivated in the workplace put in their best effort to meet your expectations. They're more likely to stay around when times get tough and go above their roles to help the company survive. An engaged workforce results in higher productivity, better customer service and increased revenue. As a business owner, it's your job to determine how to motivate your employees so they can achieve peak performance.

Companies that offer incentive programs report 14 percent higher productivity and 31 percent lower employee turnover rates than those that don't. Recognition programs can increase work performance by a whopping 44 percent. This translates into higher revenue for your business. What can you do to keep your employees motivated?

A bigger paycheck can help, but it's not always enough. In a recent survey, 27 percent of employees showed their interest in career development opportunities and training. Another 15 percent would prefer more flexible job conditions, while 27 percent expect to receive recognition for their hard work. The best motivational strategies in companies can improve team morale, increase engagement and foster employee loyalty.

Reward Hard Work

Money and benefits are always welcomed, but your employees need more than that to stay motivated at work. They want to see the value of what they do and receive praise for their accomplishments. As a manager, it's your responsibility to offer constructive feedback and reward hard work. If one of your employees does a good job, let him know that you're aware of it.

Employee recognition can boost engagement and productivity, leading to increased profits and higher retention rates. Approximately 69 percent of employees would work harder if they received recognition from their superiors. More than 41 percent of organizations that use peer-to-peer recognition experience greater customer satisfaction. This shows that motivated workers are more likely to meet customers' demands and provide excellent service.

It's not enough to say thank you or have an “employee of the month” program in place. Be clear about what you're thanking employees for and what you like most about their work. Tell them that what they did aligns with the company's goals and core values. By acknowledging and rewarding their efforts, you’ll give them a purpose and motivate them to keep up the good work.

Give Your Team Autonomy

Allow your team members to be in charge of their work. This demonstrates that you trust their judgment and value their skills. It's a great way to make them feel valued and keep them motivated.

For example, you can let your employees manage a small project on their own. Set expectations right from the start to make sure everyone is on the same page. Discuss how they plan to approach the project, who will do what and how they'll measure the results. Once the project is completed, assess their performance and feedback.

Educational and Training Opportunities

Regardless of their experience, employees want to grow professionally and develop their skills. That's why there are motivational strategies for nurses, fresh graduates, CEOs and so on. As a manager, you can provide internal or external training, flexible schedules for attending school, tuition reimbursements and other educational opportunities. This shows that you care about your employees and want them to achieve their full potential.

Cigna, for example, implemented an Educational Reimbursement Program between 2012 and 2014. The program generated a 129 percent return on investment and improved the company's bottom line.

Employees who completed the ERP were 10 percent more likely to be promoted and 8 percent more likely to stay with the company in the long run. Their wages increased by a staggering 43 percent.

Small Rewards, Big Impact

No matter your budget, you can motivate and engage your employees on a regular basis. Simple things such as offering flexible schedules and paid time off can make a world of difference. Here are some examples of low-cost motivational strategies in the workplace:

  • Performance bonuses and promotions.
  • Group-based reward systems.
  • Concert tickets.
  • Handwritten thank you notes.
  • Team-building activities.
  • Paid memberships in a trade association.
  • Stock options.
  • Profit sharing.
  • Recognition programs.
  • Lunch with the company's leaders.
  • VIP parking.
  • Access to new tools and resources.
  • Free mentoring.
  • Hackathons and other competitions.
  • Work-from-home days.
  • Gift cards.
  • Gym memberships.

Conduct surveys and polls to determine what your employees value most. With this information, create a reward system and find the best ways to boost their motivation. For example, if your team members are stuck in a rut, you can host a competition that emphasizes creativity innovation. Organize team-building activities to improve their morale and reinforce the value of having fun at work.