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Motivated employees are the heart and soul of any business. Whatever level of management you operate at, keeping your teams engaged should always be a top priority. Today, the crew at Corporate Essentials has gathered a series of top tips in three key areas that will give you the inside track on what really motivates employees to achieve stellar results. Whether you focus on leadership, communication or company culture, your ability to boost employee motivation across the board will grow – one cup of coffee at a time.

Lead Wisely

Some of the key reasons employees become dissatisfied with their job circle are how they are managed. Though the obvious answer is “be a better manager” there are a number of ways that this can be done, our favorites are explained in this section.

1. Set an example of authentic leadership

Strong leaders are important to a successful business on all levels. But to truly motivate employees to do their best work, managers need to deploy authentic leadership styles. This means facilitating open communication, creating a positive atmosphere and sharing both the burdens and rewards of collaboration.

2. Promote a transparent management and work environment

While it can seem difficult to truly be transparent, often making the effort to show that transparent working is a priority can boost employee motivation in and of itself. So aim to be transparent on all levels, including:

  • Within projects: particularly where teams across departments collaborate, encouraging an open, honest exchange of ideas and feedback is vital;
  • Regarding decisions: where decisions impact people listen to their concerns and provide honest answers to questions. Be willing to listen to suggestions as often others have the insight to their specific teams that you may lack;
  • Have an open door: make yourself accessible, be social when possible and be available to answer questions; and,
  • Find answers: no one expects you to have them all – but you should be able to find them, so try. When that is not possible, admit it.

3. Give each employee their own level of autonomy

Micromanagement is not a good strategy for establishing employee satisfaction – so aim to let it go. Encourage teams to develop their own various responsibilities for key tasks and let the individuals who make up those units have genuine autonomy over their areas of mastery.

4. Provide and foster mentorship

Some of the best leaders are those who get their hands dirty time and time again. Encourage leadership that involves employees by teaching skills and providing a mentorship track through your organization.

Employee motivation is improved through a mentorship model because most people innately develop a reciprocal relationship in these situations.

5. Confront problems head-on

Tiptoeing around an issue will not make it go away. Pretending that something is “not a big deal” often makes it a truly insurmountable challenge, even for the best communicators. So instead of sweeping things under the carpet or ignoring repeated calls to address a problem bubbling away in your firm, call attention to it.

Ask for suggestions addressing the issue, make a proposal for resolving the problem yourself, or simply own the fact that no one quite knows how to tackle it yet. Employees respect honesty – even when the news is not what they want to hear.

6. Allow the best ideas to win, regardless of ranking

Embrace the notion that you hired great staff at all levels in your firm. When you are involved in collaborative projects, part of being a good leader is identifying good ideas and evaluating them fairly – even if they came from the bottom of the workplace food chain.

Employee motivation suffers in an environment where whatever the boss comes up with is the winning concept every time.

7. Set goals and rewards

In addition to the traditional review cycle, set goals for projects and teams that have specific rewards. Rewards can vary, obviously, from fun token items to team breaks or outings. The most important motivating factor is understanding what your teams need and want in terms of the challenges and rewards that work offers them.

8. Promote creativity in the workplace

Taking simple steps to keep the creative juices flowing around the office can help keep employee motivation higher. Provide regular brainstorming opportunities, give people creative control over their personal spaces, and cultivate curiosity by providing new experiences for teams on a regular basis.

9. Give employees access to the results of their work

Employee motivation is lower when people feel like their contribution to a project is going nowhere.

Whether your company provides slick ad campaigns, financial services or educational testing equipment – the teams that work for you need to understand the big picture their contributions complete. So, find a purposeful way to showcase their work.

10. Offer learning opportunities

More than just training people in your corporate policies and job expectations, offer engaging training opportunities for all staff. Personal development is a huge factor in employee motivation.

For some firms, this means letting staff book courses that appeal to their own interests in addition to any professional development that may be required annually. This is part of giving people access to a realistic career path through your firm – providing them with ancillary skills that may be of benefit to the team is a boon for all.

11. Train and promote great behavior

Your recruitment process should be finely tuned to entice the sort of people who fit well within the corporate culture you are working to establish. Your onboarding process should then enhance the favorable personality traits and behaviors your company culture is designed to thrive on.

Then, keep employees motivated by rewarding the behaviors your company craves for success.

12. Give employees time to pursue what they are passionate about

One of the key perks great companies offer to potential employees is time to develop their personal skills set.

Whether this is a designated sabbatical break every few years or a subset of time that workers can use to pursue personal projects, employee motivation improves when people know their effort for the company comes with an opportunity to focus on their own goals as well.

13. Challenge employees with new responsibilities that support development

Particularly at higher levels, employee motivation often hinges on personal and professional development. An employee who is given the opportunity to learn new skills is often more motivated than one who is stuck in a rut doing the same thing over and over again.

Kick the motivation factor up a notch by giving the employee a specific project or other responsibility that requires them to learn something new.

14. Give employees all the resources needed to do their job

The last linchpin of leadership that promotes employee motivation is simple: give people what they need to meet your expectations. There is little point in providing challenging goals, flexible workflow, collaborative learning environments or personal development time if your teams are so busy or under-resourced they are unable to take advantage of the offerings.

Hire enough people to do the work required, provide adequate supplies – and perhaps most importantly, ask people if they need anything more from you when a new project starts.

Communicate Well

Good managers, great leaders and excellent employees often have one thing in common – they are all great communicators. Being able to balance input from multiple levels and distill it into appropriate messages for others is vital to employee motivation. Our top communication secrets for business leaders follow.

15. Take suggestions from employees and management

Open communication is more than a two-way street, it is a vast network of transportation systems. Your role, should you choose to accept it, is to effectively be the lighting network that unites them all – keeping information at the forefront of all endeavors. Keep your door – and ears – open to staff at all levels.

Employee motivation is higher when the feeling of collaboration is founded in reality, and encouraging people to participate in the entire process by valuing input from all sides equally is a great start.

16. Smile, be personable and enjoyable

Would you rather spend the day engaging with frumpy people or happy people? Ultimately, employee motivation is going to be easier to come by in a positive environment – so that “be the change” axiom is absolutely true. Put on a brave face in adverse situations, find the good in a given situation and be kinder than necessary.

17. Offer consistent, helpful feedback on work

Feedback matters. And so does how you present it to your employees. Remember that constructive criticisms and plentiful praise make a big difference – constantly being told things are “wrong” without any suggestion of how to improve them is simply demoralizing.  Protect employee motivation by providing feedback at regular intervals.

What’s more when a group or individual hits a target or achieves an accomplishment? Celebrate it. Encouraging people to work together toward common goals is a great component of employee motivation.

18. Embrace change

Change is difficult to accept, a challenge to lead through and often a true struggle to integrate within existing routines. But to motivate others through change, you have to welcome it. So whatever new standards your industry is about to adopt, whatever social trend is looming on the horizon and whatever the new corporate restructure throws your way, consider it a gift.

Shaking things up now and then is great for creativity, so embracing change with an open mind can improve your ability to lead and boost employee motivation in one fell swoop.

19. Hold a daily scrum

A daily stand up, huddle or scrum can be a great motivator for employees. They get a heads up on anything that may come their way during the day, updates on late-breaking news from around the firm and a quick opportunity to check in with teammates who are on the road or have been away from the office for another reason.

Communication is key – and running an effective scrum focuses the team briefly and precisely to keep the day running well.

20. Allow employees to attend meetings with higher-ups

Part of establishing an open culture in the workplace is avoiding the pitfalls of closed-door meetings where board members make business decisions that have a wide-ranging impact. Allowing team members who have a stake in the discussions to be present empowers them, motivates them and encourages an overall feeling of openness that is difficult to replicate.

21. Be responsive and helpful

There is little worse than asking a colleague for something at work and getting stalled. When you are in a position to move a project along, use your powers for good and respond to queries as they arrive whenever possible.

If you can make purposeful suggestions, do so. And, if you have access to a resource that could speed the proverbial plow for the team, by all means, offer your help. Employee motivation is absolutely enhanced when people at all levels collaborate toward the desired results.

Grow a Great Culture

The third big area you can flex to your advantage when trying to boost employee motivation is your company culture. You have spent the time promoting your firm as a good place to work, so now is the time to harness the expectations of your teams and work on living up to that promise.

22. Build a culture focused on “why”

One of the first points to consider when it comes to employee motivation and office culture is the purpose of having an office culture in the first place. Establishing an office culture that is underpinned by an understanding of why things are done is a great start.

People are demotivated by tasks that seem purposeless, so fill their workflows with meaning – illustrate actively how each cog in the machine contributes to one amazing clock at the end of the day.

23. Offer a flexible work-life balance

As adults, we are forced to prioritize everything we do – but no one should feel torn between the job that keeps a roof over their head and attending an important family event. So, cultivate an atmosphere that makes the choices easy for people – never penalize them for being human.

24. Align your company’s activities with your culture’s social values

Whether you are considering a venue for the holiday party; choosing local businesses to partner with for catering; or, planning training retreats for your teams, consider how the vendors or activities align with your cultural values as a firm.

Choose vendors that support the causes your firm champions and choose activities that foster the interactivity and connection your employees strive to achieve.

25. Encourage investment in the company

Some of the best-rated workplaces in the nation are employee-owned. Encouraging people to take ownership of the workplace gives a unique sense of pride and can be a tremendous motivating factor for employees.

Inward investment can take many forms – from the traditional stock option plan to more hands-on investments, like helping design a new break room or lead a team to select office coffee products.

26. Make your office a “home away from home”

A big trend in workplace design has been creating spaces with the comforts people traditionally have at home. To some, this seems like a way to fudge the coveted work/life balance in favor of spending more time in the office. For others, creating homey spaces within the office can be a great motivating factor.

Enhance your break room with comfortable chairs and sofas, create well-lit open spaces for collaborative working, allow pets to come to work on Thursdays and embrace the allure of an open-air kitchen if you have the space available.

27. Offer perks with personal impact

Employee benefits that help people save money, encourage healthier lifestyles and enable workers to better balance their regular life commitments can set you apart from other employers.

Employee motivation spikes when people are given opportunities to better themselves, so choose perks with a personal angle to maximize the return on your investment in your people.

28. Offer free snacks, coffee, refreshments

There are scores of reasons a well-stocked break room makes a huge difference for successful companies. Easy access to snacks encourages employees to take breaks and keep hydrated – both of which improve overall health and thought processes. On-site coffee and snacks keep your people from having to run out to the café before meetings, saving time and preventing delays.

But more than these, a well-stocked break room with healthy snacks and high-quality coffee products shows your employees that they are valued. And when it comes to employee motivation, feeling valued is among the top factors people list.

29. Hold friendly competitions

The odds are, you have spent some serious time and money making your office break room an amazing space for people to enjoy for a quick nutritious snack or a caffeinated recharge before that 2 p.m. meeting. Harness its power for something even more amazing by staging a regular competition.

Whether it is a Trivia Tuesday or a coffee sampling evening once a month, boost employee motivation by having actual awards for these competitions. Whether it is a top team trophy that travels the building or an afternoon off for the winning team, having prizes available for key competitions makes them more engaging.

30. Occasionally cater lunches

While having a great break room stocked with fresh snacks and treats is great, bringing in a local vendor for fresh free lunch once a month can be a great way to improve employee motivation, particularly in the face of major projects.

By bringing lunch into the office, you save people both time and money – these are two great motivating factors for us all.

31. Have fun daily

Encourage gameplay, have a daily joke or just be sure that people enjoy what they are doing each and every day. Employee motivation is closely linked to the actual enjoyment people have in the workplace – so encourage them to have fun, cut loose and enjoy their day.

Promote random acts of kindness, shower people with heart bombs or leave baskets of treats in rooms where you know teams on deadline gather. Injecting a little fun into every day in the office is easier than you think – and the resulting injection of enthusiasm it provides is well worth the effort.

32. Celebrate office birthdays, achievements and special occasions

Everyone likes a treat now and then, and few people refuse the opportunity to pause for a celebration during the day. So embrace those opportunities.

Employee motivation gets a boost when you take a day each month to honor everyone with a birthday. Or, give simple awards to people who have completed a set amount of service to your firm each quarter. This is both because people take a break, which encourages them to move around and free up their brain space; and because people get a tiny slice of the limelight.

33. Encourage a fun and healthy lifestyle in and outside of the office

Offering a solid selection of fresh, healthy snacks and encouraging your teams to take frequent breaks is a great way to foster a healthy atmosphere in the office. But take this one step further and reward time employees spend in the gym, or opt for incentives which support healthy choices, such as increased exercise or breaking bad habits.

34. Promote relaxing lunch breaks

Providing on-site catering, sponsored food carts and a well-stocked break room allows your employees to take the time they need to decompress between meetings. Giving the staff a chance to eat, without rushing to a restaurant or grabbing some junk food from the mini-mart up the road, allows them to focus on their wellbeing and work rather than the fastest route to the shop.

The less-acknowledged employee motivation factor of a lingering lunch is that people have an opportunity to interact with staff from across the firm they might not otherwise see. This can lead to unexpected collaboration, brilliant brainstorming sessions and innovations.

Whatever the size of your organization, motivating your teams can start with simple gestures, like improving the quality of your office coffee. For guidance and advice on getting the best office coffee your break room could possibly boast, contact the team at Corporate Essentials today. Our coffee gurus have nearly 20 years worth of experience helping companies like yours improve their office culture through better coffee.

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Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.