By RedBalloon for Business

How to increase employee motivation

It’s the time of year when millions of people around the world want to slow down and take a break from work. Here are four ways to motivate employees and keep them productive, without having to spend thousands of dollars on end-of-year bonuses.

1. Promote an attitude of gratitude

Thank you” is such a common phrase that people often underestimate its power, but that’s starting to change. Research by The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkley and Harvard Medical School is starting to show people who practice gratitude are more likely to be happy and healthier than their less grateful peers.

And, according to research from the Wall Street Journal and iOpener Institute, employees who are happy and healthy spend 65% more time feeling energised, and believe they are achieving their potential twice as much as their unhappy peers.

Want to know how to motivate employees? Start by saying thank you to any one in the office today, start as soon as you finish reading this article. Write them a thank you note to recognise even a small thing they have done today. Or, if you’re a people leader, set your team members a challenge to set aside time each week to list the things you are grateful for.

2. Make a list and check it twice

Make a “nice” list. But instead of filling it up with names of nice people, fill the list with employee achievements from the past year. List the projects your team members have successfully delivered. Take note of the challenges you’ve overcome by working together. Acknowledge the new comers who’ve joined you.

Need proof that this is going to impact motivation and performance? Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania did a study with two groups of university fundraisers. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations, while the second group received a motivating talk from the director of annual giving, who told them she was grateful for their efforts. The employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.

3. Make growth plans for the new year

We all want to feel like we’re getting somewhere and accomplishing things – whether that’s at work or in our personal lives. So talk with your employees about where areas they want to grow and learn in the new financial year, and work with them to create an action plan so they have something to look forward to.

In his book Delivering Happiness, CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh describes how offering smaller, but more frequent promotions had a measurable increase in employee satisfaction. You might not have the budget or the headcount to promise your employees a big promotion, but Zappos found that offering smaller promotions or opportunities to grow in skill and training, say every 3 months, would result in increased employee satisfaction and motivation.

Apply this lesson in your goal-setting with your employees and you’ll find they’ll be more motivated to start working towards that next milestone on their way to greatness.

4. Encourage generosity: give your employees opportunities to give

A 2013 study by United Health Group called “Doing Good is Good for You” proved that employer volunteer programs increased engagement and productivity. Of those who volunteered:

  • 75% of the people felt healthier
  • 90% said volunteering put them in a better mood
  • 75% reported experiencing less stress

Studies show healthier, happier and less stressed employees leads to better performance, improved customer service and improved workplace culture.

None of these strategies cost a lot of money, but they are effective. Fostering gratitude and generosity not only lifts the motivation and performance of your employees, it, when used strategically, can help you create a workplace culture that your people are proud to be part of.


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