Insights & Articles
Posted on 25 November 2019

Four employee motivation and engagement strategies

9 minute read

The fast-paced working world is constantly changing. But people are still the backbone of a successful business. So ask yourself, are your employees as motivated and engaged as they could be?

It’s easy to start overlooking how engaged your employees are once everyone gets into a routine of working. But it’s important to regularly assess how your employees feel and work to improve your workplace environment to maximise motivation.

Here, we’ll cover four employee motivation and engagement strategies you can implement within your business to ensure employee happiness stays up and productivity increases.

1. Create a dialogue with your employees to keep employees engaged

It’s great if you’re a natural leader. It’s even better if you are completely confident in the strategic and operational plan that you’ve laid out to chart a path to success. Nonetheless, your success in business will always be hampered if you overlook a simple fact… people don’t enjoy being dictated to.

If staff feel like they are a part of something, they will be much more likely to embrace it. With that in mind, communication with employees needs to be a two-way street. It’s not enough to simply have your own ‘vision’. You need to give staff a voice in shaping their own ongoing professional development and working life.

So, how do you get this done?

The importance of goal setting 

Goal setting is absolutely crucial in ensuring when considering employee motivation and engagement strategies. It prevents them from stagnating or falling into habits that will make their work less engaging and challenging for them. Employees with clear, realistic and measurable goals (that they were involved in setting) are four times more likely to be engaged in their work than those who don’t.

Make sure that it’s clear to employees what is expected and how they can achieve it in real and practical day-to-day terms, rather than simply vague statements. More “do this every day” than “be more like that”. Goal setting should also help the employee to see how vital their role is in the success of the company as a whole. Team members are much more likely to be engaged and invested if they feel that their work is meaningful.

Keep your team in the loop

Your company’s success is your employees’ success. But how can they share in that success and take ownership of it if they’re unaware of it in the first place? That’s why it’s important to keep them in the loop in the most immediate and personal way possible. An email newsletter is ok. Dropping into their Thursday morning strategy meeting to congratulate them on a job well done is better.

In-person communication can be hard, however, particularly in large companies. This is one reason that businesses of all kinds have started to turn to purpose-built apps to help create a more communal culture — even where employees are separated by large distances.
The work your employees do every day plays a vital role in your business’ success or failure. The better they know what works and are aware of what doesn’t, the better they understand the criteria for success in the context of your business and their workplace.

2. Encourage personal development and training

Training is not something that starts and ends with onboarding. It needs to be an expansive and ever-changing part of your business that changes according to your company’s needs.

Training provides employees with the tools they need to get the job done. It’s also integral to personal development. In truth, if training and ongoing professional development aren’t an integral part of the employee journey, competence becomes complacency and motivation goes out the window. A comfort zone is a place of boredom and low productivity.

Valuing people and preparing for the future

Training helps employees better cope with the changing nature of their job and their role within the company. And if you have your sights set on growth, they need to be prepared to handle change with confidence.

What’s more, training sends employees a clear message that they and their good work are valued. Not just in terms of the specific function their position serves, but as a person outside of their current role. It shows them that you see a future for them within your organisation and are prepared to invest in that future.

Training empowers employees. It ensures that they don’t get those scary moments where they feel woefully out of their depth. And when this happens, this leads to a less stressful, happier and more harmonious workplace. Which brings us to…

3. Create a positive working environment

No matter how enjoyable or rewarding an employee finds their job, a hostile and toxic working environment can make their working life unbearable, no matter how much they love their jobs.

The realities of running a business in a competitive industry have led many businesses to create a performance-based environment and ethos. The trouble is that this can foster a mentality of personal gain over team-based achievement where the ends (hitting targets and securing bonuses) always justifies the means. The net result is often employees stepping on one-another’s toes and behaving unscrupulously towards one another in the name of personal gain.

What’s more, this kind of environment is highly conducive to fear and self-doubt. An environment where employees second-guess their instincts due to fear of reprimands if they don’t pay off. Needless to say, this can massively stunt personal and professional growth.

Give everyone a voice

The first step towards creating a positive working environment is ensuring that each and every employee knows that they have a voice and that their voice is heard and valued. You want a culture in which employees know that their employer has faith in their knowledge, judgement and abilities.

There are a number of ways in which employers can do this. However, communication is always key. Ensuring that every employee has access to a forum (be it digitally or even through something as rudimentary as a suggestion box) where they can voice their ideas, concerns and queries without fear of reprisals is critical to understanding what needs to be done.

If employees feel that you trust them, they will pay it forward and reciprocate that trust in your leadership.

4. Recognise hard work to keep employees motivated

It’s very hard to be at your best when you don’t feel as though the good work you do is valued, or even recognised by your employer. Employees want more than remuneration. They need to know that they’re making a difference. Even taking a moment to offer a quick word of genuine thanks can make a big difference. Just make sure that you’re specific in what you thank them for, or it may come across as less than genuine.

A structured employee recognition scheme, however, can be even more effective. It can show how much you appreciate your employees while also serving as a useful incentive to keep employees motivated.

Close distances with apps

Face-to-face chats and public recognition in the office can be the most effective ways to recognise the successes of your team. However, with remote workforces, multiple office locations, and ever-expanding teams — this kind of traditional recognition is not always possible.
To fill the challenges of recognition in the modern workplace, tech-firms have developed a variety of digital applications which can make the process easier and more structured. They look and handle a lot like the social media platforms employees use every day. The big difference is that features designed to cause distractions (like private chat and algorithmically-driven feeds) are removed.

Ultimately, the right tool can close distances of any size, and allow you to create a sense of community in even the largest businesses. It becomes easy to encourage employer to employee and peer to peer recognition, keeping everyone engaged and feeling appreciated.

What’s more, these same tools allow you to keep team members up to date with new developments in the company, share and celebrate team, departmental and personal achievements, and even allow employees to earn incentives. It all helps to create a more unified and motivated workforce. And because they help create social cohesion in the workforce they also help to address employees’ work-life balance.

Address employee motivation and engagement and you can boost their job satisfaction, reduce employee turnover, retain top-tier talent and ensure a happy and harmonious workplace now and in the long term.