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HR How-to: Continue To Motivate Your Employees

Despite all that time spent at home during the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that your employees will return to the office feeling their best. For many, the past few months have been filled with a series of hardships, including changes in their childcare routine, financial stressors, and even brushes with Covid-19 itself, all of which may have zapped their motivation and left them feeling somewhat lackluster about their work demands. However, there is much that you can do, both now and after we have put this whole pandemic behind us, to keep your employees engaged and motivated to do their best year-round! 

Keep it cultural: 
One of the easiest ways to motivate your employees is to ingrain it in your company culture. Business pros know that a supportive, nurturing culture that challenges employees to do their best pays off with higher rates of satisfaction and even improved productivity. Of course, creating a corporate culture doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t something that should be taken lightly as it should embody the values of your company and will become a serious recruitment and retention tool. To lay the groundwork, gather your leaders together and identify which values are most important to your corporate vision and then think about how you can embody these values starting first with leadership, who serve not only as role models for the behavior but can make sure it becomes ingrained in every aspect of your company. 

Employee recognition: 
Want to keep your employees motivated? Then let them know when they are doing a good job! Studies show that recognizing a job well done is a strong source of motivation which can keep employees engaged and on your payroll! In terms of how you deliver said recognition, do not just wait until an annual or semi-annual review. Instead, reward tip-top performance in the moment and be sure to praise the specific behavior or outcome that was observed so that the employee and their peers, who observe said praise, can best understand the desired behavior and how it was achieved and emulate it in the future. As to how you deliver said recognition, verbal praise certainly goes a long way in the moment, but you may also want to implement a rewards program of sorts that provides points or even monetary bonuses for a job well done. 

Tailor made: 
While you want to incorporate a culture of motivation and engagement and also want to be sure that you are recognizing achievements across the board, you must find a way to motivate employees in a way that is meaningful to them. As a result, it is highly unlikely that you will find a one-size-fits-all solution for motivating your staff. This is where your managers come in handy. They work closely with staff and should have discussions with them during review times about what types of feedback are most appreciated, what they find most motivating, and how they would prefer to be recognized and rewarded for achievements. As mentioned above, a point system whereby folks accrue points that can be turned in for various perks, such as additional PTO, work from home days, or simply cash or prizes. The more diverse your point program offerings, the more likely you are to appeal to members of your workforce and create a system that is truly motivating. 

Career ladder: 
Want to really motivate your workers? Show them that you see a strong future for them in your company by providing them with opportunities to move up the career ladder. From offering specialized training, chipping in for outside certification programs, or simply just nominating them for stretch roles (more on that in a minute!) you can help employees feel fulfilled while they wait to make their next professional leap. Further, you’ll want to pair these opportunities with information on what they need to achieve in order to climb that next career rung, including what experiences they should seek to gain and what behaviors or achievements you would like to see in order to bump them up. Not only will you keep your employees motivated, but you will also enjoy improved retention and a more tenured staff of higher-ups that truly understand your business model and goals. Goal setter:
One key component of career planning and motivating is the creation of goals that help guide employee behaviors. In drafting a series of goals, you should include a combination of short-term goals that keep folks motivated year-round, as well as longer term goals that will result in larger pay offs in the motivation department. Always remember, in drafting these goals you will want to consider not just what you hope to gain, but also what will be most useful and motivating for your worker. Further, you’ll want to track progress towards said goals and implement a system of recognition and rewards to stoke the motivation fire.

Stretch roles: 
Sometimes even the most thrilling jobs can become a little stale over time, which in turn can really sap motivation. Keep your employees excited about coming in to work and motivated to excel in their jobs by changing it up from time to time. Where feasible, offer opportunities for workers to try something new in their role, such as collaborating with a department that they’ve shown an interest in learning about, which has been shown to not only boost morale, but also foster a more positive company culture and even boost your bottom line. Another opportunity lies in allowing employees to participate in an activity where they get to show off a skill that is seldom used in their current role, such as asking your worker who has a flair for graphic design to draw up a new template for the company newsletter or provide input on a company website overhaul. The key here is to make sure that the stretch roles are of interest to the employee in question, either because it allows them to use a favorite skill or because it can build their skills for their next career leap.

Give them a break: 
Even if you work for the most motivating and supportive company, you still need a life outside of work to truly recharge and remain motivated. This is increasingly important in today’s corporate environment, where more folks than ever have found themselves working from home and are likely grappling with how to “switch off” when the workday is over. You can support the elusive work-life balance by implementing technology usage policies that stipulate that employees should not be responding to work calls and/or emails outside of business hours, encouraging employees to actually take their earned paid time off, and promoting opportunities such as offerings and health programs that seek to teach employees how to truly disconnect and de-stress.

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