The definition of motivation is explained as: “Desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm.”

By understanding how to use motivation to improve performance, you can also improve your business’s productivity, quality, and service. You’ll also create a work environment that will empower and focus your staff to perform to the best of their ability, whether it’s increasing sales or improving customer service. It is generally accepted that happy staff are productive workers, which means there are lots of benefits to having motivated employees. By following these simple steps you can motivate your staff to perform better.

Step 1 – Find their motivation

First, your role as an employer is to understand what motivates your employees – after all, everyone is different, and each employee will have their own likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies. Some employees enjoy the more social aspects of work, while others may be motivated mostly by money. You need to handle each personality type differently to help increase motivation. It is your job to learn what motivates each of your staff, and leverage these motivating factors to achieve the goals and objectives of your business. The triggers that motivate people to perform better are unique for everyone, so how are you going to find out what these are?

Step 2 – Communicate

The best way for an employer to know what motivates their staff is to ask them. You can ask them to complete a questionnaire to get an idea of what’s important to them, or sit down one-on-one to discuss it. Simply asking for their input can be enough to motivate some employees to work harder, because it will help them feel that they are contributing to the team and the business, and most importantly, being listened to. You may take it one step further by offering a specific programme, where employees can provide recommendations to improve company policies or the workplace as a whole.

Step 3 – Show your appreciation

It is vital that, as an employer, you acknowledge the positive behaviours and achievements of your staff. Let them know when they have done a good job, and encourage them if they are struggling. A simple “well done” or “thank you” goes a long way towards increasing motivation. Employees will realise that the work they do is really valued and making a difference to the business.

Step 4 – Give recognition

You should be constantly looking for ways to recognise excellence and outstanding performance in the workplace. This may be through a one-off bonus,  promotion, or you may opt for a low cost but high impact company wide employee recognition scheme. These schemes are a really effective way for businesses to engage their employees and thank them for the work they have done and best of all they don’t have to be expensive to implement.

Step 5 – Define their role

Employees want to be valued, and want to feel that they are contributing something valuable to the business. By clearly defining an employee’s role, you are providing context for everything they do, and ensuring they feel a sense of purpose while at work. Ultimately, an employee needs to understand how the job they do contributes to the overall goals of the organisation, and where they fit into the bigger picture. If your employees feel they are working together in alignment with the organisation’s mission and strategy, you will create a more positive, motivated and productive work environment.

Step 6 – Compensate appropriately

Money is a basic need and it is a necessity to ensure that basic salaries are satisfactory. However it is a short-term motivator, and another pay rise may not achieve the long term performance improvement you require. Performance-driven bonuses/commissions and additional benefits offered through a company benefits scheme, (such as gym membership, corporate discounts, childcare vouchers and holiday schemes), will have greater impact on the bottom line. Provided, of course, the basic employment package is on a par with competitors.

Step 7 – Offer training and development

Most employees want to develop their role and their career, this means they need opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience. Each of your employees will have individual ambitions and career plans, so it is vital that you talk to them and plan together to support their professional development. In organisations without personal development plans, employees can feel like they are stagnating, which can increase employee turnover. This can lead to increased business costs, not only in terms of lost productivity, but also recruitment and training expenditure to find replacement staff.

Motivating your employees is vital to any business and should be a main objective in your organisational and business plan. A motivated workforce is a highly productive workforce with happy customers, which ultimately will help towards achieving your business goals.

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.