Employee motivation is something any business owner can take for granted. We often get to focused on figures, hours, deliverables and cashflow, with little attention left for the less tangible aspects of our businesses which aren’t as easily quantifiable.

One of the less visible aspects of your business you should be interested in is employee motivation. It takes a lot of time, money and effort to hire and onboard people.

Not only is employee retention great for business, you also need to be mindful of how well they perform when onboard. No, not just their KPI’s – although very important – but how well are they motivated? What keeps them in the role and performing at their peak?

There are plenty of transactional ways to do this, such as vouchers, days off and rewards. But let’s look at ways to interact with your employees that should be an innate part of your interactions, not just one-off incentives.

1) Be genuine and honest

Seriously. There’s no trickery involved here.

To be an honest, open, genuine leader who doesn’t hide behind false narratives and obvious ploys will be one of your best angles to employee motivation.

Assuming you’ve hired smart, intuitive people (and we hope you have) they would appreciate not being manipulated. Be upfront with your motives, talk openly and gain respect from your employees for doing so.

People get motivated when they feel part of a respectful team of people who show them appreciation and act with integrity. Don’t try to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

2) Make appreciation a part of your day

No need for gratuitous fawning here, nor curtness. A habit of small moments of appreciation and acknowledgment goes a long way.

You never know when someone put a lot of thought into something, only to receive no thanks. It’s disheartening.

Sure, you need employees that don’t require consistent pats on the back to do their jobs, but pausing to give someone a nod for their effort will motivate them for the next task they accomplish. Positive reinforcement is an undeniable motivator.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another,” said Napoleon Hill.

3) Value and grant autonomy

Ownership of tasks is extremely important.

Nobody has ever said, ‘I wish I was micromanaged more’. Not because they’ll misuse time, but because they have no ownership of their day. It eats away at people.

How can you hope to have dedicated, conscientious and motivated employees if you’re breathing down their neck?

The more a person submits to outside pressure at the expense of their own values, such as for a paycheck, the more their motivation will be depleted.

Allow employees more say in their role while remaining task oriented. You need to foster communication and importantly (especially in an age of remote work) be more focused on outcomes rather than ‘time in chair’.

4) Explain the reasons. They matter.

People don’t like to be told what to do without explanation. The ego is hardwired to rebel. Try thinking about how you would respond to the following:

  • I need you to post this on social media. It’s important.
  • Please post this to our social channels. This announcement is important to our clients because of x, we should see how many likes we can get in the first day as we also need to increase our engagement. If you have any great suggestions to improve the post, let me know.

Gee, doesn’t number two sound more appealing? That’s because you didn’t just lay out demands, you told them why.

Better yet, when you do this, your employee will execute their job better as they may make suggestions or tailor their work on the knowledge of why this is being done. Allow their brain to tackle the reasons and you’ll get better outcomes and increased motivation.

You get that all important buy in.