One of the biggest problems businesses face today is having unengaged employees. In 2012, Gallup found that only 13% of employees across the world are truly engaged in their work, and this lack of engagement costs companies billions of dollars every year. This is an issue employers need to work to improve. Fortunately for them, money is not the only motivator for most employees, nor the most effective. Leonard J. Glick, professor of management and organizational development at Boston’s Northeastern University, said, “I think managers or companies get into trouble when they view money as the only motivator and overlook other aspects of the organization.” While promising money is easy, the harder, more powerful and lasting methods of inspiring people to do their best will be more effective in attracting, retaining , and engaging employees at your company.
An emphasis on an organization’s culture is the best way to inspire and motivate it’s people. But what aspects of culture really make the biggest difference?
1. Feeling that they’re doing something important
People find it exciting and motivating to work when they feel like they’re doing something meaningful. A prime workplace example was Steve Jobs‘ way of motivating his employees at Apple. His attitude that he made loud and clear was that they were there to make awesome products and change the world, and anyone who wasn’t there for that same purpose could leave. The money was not the motivating factor in the work of Apple employees.
Making people feel that their work is important is pretty easy at non-profit companies with a vision of service. However, for-profit companies can establish a powerful mission and goals of innovation and accomplishment that feel meaningful and motivating as well, just like at Apple. By focusing on making an impact and not just money, employees become more dedicated to their work.
LinkedIn surveyed over 10,000 people about why they switched jobs in 2015, and one of their findings was that people today are more likely to switch from a job at a larger company to a job at a smaller company. The reason? Definitely not the money. Instead, people felt that the work at smaller companies was more challenging and that they could make more of an impact.
So create an inspiring vision of improving lives and the world through your company’s goods or services, and then instill that vision in your employees.
2. Opportunities for growth
Employees today, especially Millennials, want to work for companies that will help them advance in their careers. They want to feel that their skill set is used well and that they are continually learning and making themselves more marketable and experienced. Therefore, in order to help employees be excited about their jobs, employers need to communicate with them about how they can grow at their companies, and then actively support them in their efforts to progress. There are a variety of ways for people to make progress professionally, and there are multiple things employers can do to assist. Look to promote internally before looking externally, give raises, create opportunities to take on greater responsibilities, offer ways to increase knowledge and skills such as training programs, mentorship programs, online courses, or tuition reimbursement. Encourage your employees to pursue their goals and grow at work, and you will see higher levels of engagement.
3. Receiving praise
When your employees do exceptional work or have done good work consistently for a while, let them know they’ve done well. Be honest and sincere, and your compliment will go a long way in motivating an employee. Don’t get in the habit of handing out frequent compliments for day-to-day work; overdoing it leads to your words not meaning anything or an attitude of entitlement. However, celebrate employees’ milestones, acknowledge professional achievement, and recognize employees’ efforts when deserved. Everyone appreciates being recognized for a job well done once in a while, and it can go a long way in a person’s attitude.
4. Taking vacation
Studies have shown that people who use their vacation days are less stressed at work and therefore perform better than employees who never take a day off. Like any other organ in the body, the brain gets tired if it is overused. Not only do people get tired, but they often become more negative and less effective without ever taking a real break. Long vacations (a week or more) are more effective than short breaks (like a 3-4 day weekend). Whatever your vacation plan, encourage and support employees in taking time off and rejuvenating their minds and bodies. Let them disconnect while on vacation (meaning no work calls or emails!) so they can think about other things and remember there is more to life. Then, when they get back, you will have rested, energized, ready-to-go employees.
5. Keeping things interesting
Many jobs can get monotonous and lead to boredom at work. If you never switch things up, employees will have a tough time maintaining a high level of engagement and productivity. Make things interesting and take your employees bowling, hold a chili competition for lunch one day, do a push-up competition, or have everyone fill out a March Madness bracket. Start traditions that employees can look forward to, for holidays, birthdays, or otherwise. Whatever they may be, do things to make your employees look forward to work a little more and feel like they’re part of a team/family.