The ability to motivate employees is a valuable tool in a good leader’s tool belt. Money isn’t always the key to keeping morale high in the workplace. Here are five ways to build (and retain) a passionate and hard-working team:
- Praise and acknowledge. Everyone wants to be appreciated and it’s one of the easiest things to give. Praise every employee who goes out of the way to make a difference. Not only will they be happy that you noticed, but they’ll also be much more likely to repeat that same behavior. Think about it: You are more motivated (and inclined) to help and serve people who routinely recognize the good, hard work you put in versus those who don’t. A little gratitude can go a long way.
- Make everyone a leader. Highlight your top performers’ strengths and let them know that because of their excellence, you want them to be the example for others. You’ll set the bar high and they’ll be motivated to live up to their reputation as leaders.
- Trust and be flexible. Tell your employees that you trust them to do their jobs and to do them well. Be flexible with their schedules. If they have a dentist appointment in the morning, let them do it without taking PTO. If they have a sick child and need to work from home for a day, allow it. As long as they’re producing high-quality workmanship and meeting deadlines, show them a bit of freedom. Chances are good you’re going to need them to be flexible with you (e.g., occasionally working off hours or weekends). If, in the end, they abuse that trust, you can always take away those privileges. Most will be motivated to maintain that freedom.
- Give recognition and small rewards. Give a shout out to someone in a staff meeting for what they have accomplished. Send a small certificate of appreciation to a colleague (copying their boss) for a job well done. Tangible awards that are relatively inexpensive can work, too. Try buying an employee lunch, establishing a traveling trophy within the team/organization or awarding PTO hours.
- Make it fun/make it family. It’s no secret that many workers spend more time with their colleagues during the week than with their families. Knowing that, you should do whatever you can to make the work environment a place where employees enjoy spending time. Schedule regular outings (e.g., once every month or two, have your team leave at 3 p.m. on a Friday to participate in a self-funded off-site activity — bowling, picnics, golf, etc.). Conduct team-building activities in the office (e.g., carve out 15 minutes at every staff meeting to do something “fun,” like asking trivia questions, doing lateral-thinking exercises, etc.). Have food days. Breed a culture in which you get to know your employees and they get to know each other so work feels like “a family” even when they are away from home.