It’s a given that every employee is motivated by something, whether it’s money, recognition, lifestyle or something else. However, employee motivation is fluid and changeable.

It is based on the current needs and wants of the individual at that particular time, and these may change based on a range of factors such as:

– The company’s culture and values

– The company’s employee policies

– The company’s leadership and the individual’s manager

– The expectations of the employee

– The economy

– The competitiveness of the job market.

Destroying employee motivation

Changes in any of these factors can make motivating employees challenging, and it can sometimes go wrong. Here’s how you can ensure that your team is demotivated, demoralised and ready to leave*:

Poor communication – one week an employee is told they are performing poorly in a role they’ve been doing for years, the next they receive praise for excellent customer service. If managers and employees aren’t communicating properly then the employee will never know if they are doing their job properly.

Unequal playing field – if staff on lower grades perceive that those higher up get promoted or receive morerecognition based purely on their salary level or nepotism then they will never try to improve because they will believe that whatever they do, it won’t count.

Playing the blame game – everyone occasionally makes mistakes but having a manager that plays the blame game and dumps all problems on their employee without accepting any responsibility themselves can make their team timid and fearful.

Impossible goals – every team and employee should have goals but if they are constantly set too high they’ll feel like they are underperforming, even if in reality they are not.

Never offering praise – recognition is the most important form of employee motivation, people need reinforcement that they are doing a good job otherwise they will become demotivated.

*Of course we don’t really recommend taking steps to destroy your employees’ motivation, but it can easily happen when any of these factors are overlooked.

 “The only way to get people to like working hard is to motivate them. Today, people must understand why they’re working hard. Every individual in an organisation is motivated by something different.” -Rick Pitino

Improving employee motivation

Of course, most of us would do everything in our power to avoid such scenarios. So here are my top 10 ways to improve employee motivation:

1. Clear roles and job descriptions – make sure your employees know what their job is and what is expected of them.

2. Talk to your employees – find out what motivates them, what do they need to do their job.

3. Give feedback – whether an employee did well or not give them feedback immediately.

4. Recognition – if an employee exceeds expectations or performance let them and their team know.

5. Working environment – make sure the working environment is clean, bright and conducive to team work, but also allow employees to personalise some of their working space.

6. Be part of the solution – if you or your team is ‘stuck’ on something get the team together and come up with a solution together.

7. Collaborate – don’t divide and conquer by pitting individuals against each other, foster a spirit of co-operation and collaboration.

8. Town Hall meetings – hold town hall meetings to update employees, encourage sharing of ideas and working together.

9. Paint a picture – let your employees know what success looks like, for them personally, their team and the business as a whole.

10. Rewards – reward good work by investing in employee motivationrecognition or incentive schemes which have clear goals, criteria and a range of motivating rewards.

Take time to learn what forms of employee motivation work in your business and with your employees. You know your employees better than anyone else so listen to them, because sometimes the smallest of changes and create the biggest impact.