100+ Brilliant Ways To Motivate Staff In A Recession
As times are getting harder, managers have been re-evaluating how they motivate their workforce. At Leadership Expert, we’ve put together this comphrehensive collection of motivation tips & tricks to help managers increase their employee’s productivity in this tough economic climate. Most of the tips don’t involve spending a penny, and the ones that do will create far more value than you spent, meaning they’re perfect to use during a recession.
One final point to make before we embark on this list, is that you should consider this a ‘sweet shop’ of motivation tips, i.e. you should only pick a few and certainly not attempt to implement them all. There’s nothing worse than being sandblasted by motivational techniques.
1. One-on-One coaching - People appreciate learning directly from their senior on an individual basis. It helps them remember what they learn, and ask any questions they wish to help form a deep understanding of their work.
2. Training - In general, training is one of the most empowering tools a company can offer it’s employees. Subsquently all large companies invest heavily in training and enjoy the long term payoff.
3. Clear Career Path – Staff are better motivated when they can see where they should be in 3 years time if they work hard. The more barriers between them and promotion that cannot be solved by hard work will only demotivate.
4. Safe Work Environment – Maslow theorised that safety is one of the fundemental pillars of motivation, and that a safe work environment is necessary for all other motivating factors (such as self esteem) to start having a positive effect.
5. Executive Recognition - A congratulatory conference call from the CEO or visit from the finance director will do well to swell the chests of your workforce with pride and admiration for their work.
6. Time off - Motivated employees will not gladly take time off, however a generous time-off system needs to be in place to create motivated employees. Staff are likely to work harder and longer with the safety and knowledge that should they need time off due to stress, they could take it.
7. Encourage employees to praise good work of their fellow colleagues – Build a feedback procedure whereby collegues regularly pass comment on each others work, or team mates share their opinions after completing a major task. Feedback such as this helps reduce infighting and will give many people tips on how to improve their work.
8. Be sympathetic to personal problems – Offer generous time off for those who suffer bereavement. In most cases it won’t be taken, but the gesture will improve relations between managers and staff.
9. Keep your door open – An open office encourages the open share of ideas. You want to remove any barriers to communication, and a closed door certainly constitutes a barrier.
10. Allow flexible working hours - Allowing employees to manage their own time so they can participate in outside work-related activities won’t make their hours shorter. Employees who would take time off to see their child’s sports day will likely ‘pay back’ the favour by working longer hours afterwards.
11. Have annual or quarterly reviews – These are where an employee goes through some targets and review points with another member of staff who is not directly above them, and is more of a guidance counsellor than a boss.This will allow them to discuss important long term career topics that will feed their desire to work.
12. Let your employees choose their own lunch break- Unless your company happens to be a food outlet, it really doesn’t matter whether your employee takes their lunch at 11:30 or 2pm, so don’t attempt to force them to stick to a routine.
13. Forward information to staff after management meetings - A quick debriefing will increase their sense of involvement.
14. Rotate job roles – More appropriate for manufaturing, the rotation of job roles has been proven many times to increase employee productivity, despite the decrease in specialisation. This technique can be applied to any low to medium skilled jobs with a powerful effect. Multi-skilled workers also make life easier for your HR department.
15. Provide quarterly updates on relevant business and customer issues – many members of staff aspire to be senior management in the future, and will thrive on being kept in the loop when it comes to high-level business infomation.
16. Give an incentive to get employees to work earlier in the morning - I’ve learnt from experience that if a salary-based employee gets to work an hour earlier, it is likely they will work until their usual finishing time.
17. Support charity work within the company – Donate 1 or 2 days of charity work per year to good causes. This will help your business get into the local media and make staff feel like they’re a part of a responsible company.
18. Address the environment issue – While we’re on the subject of responsibility, it’s worth noting that employees prefer working for a company with green credentials, so setting a carbon reduction/ energy efficiency/ recycling intiative will help enthuse the workforce.
19. Give your employees choice over their uniform – Often a business casual work dress code makes employees feel more independent than full suit and tie – which is often not necessary in an office environment.
20. Obey confidentiality – A manager who pretends to care about his employees but simply laughs and bitches about them behind their back will loose all respect and credibility extremely quickly.
21. Offer stress management/counselling services – These services are easy to outsource and admitedly are very rarely used. But the availability of such a service increases moral without costing you a penny.
22. Use gimmicks - Give out novetly ‘trophy’ style items for exceptional work. For example, give a LP record for an employee breaking a record.
23. Bring in sweets to share out on random days – This is a cheap technique that will improve the relationship between management and the workforce.
24. Give out tickets to cultured events such as theatres and music shows.
25. Send a company T-shirt or hat to the employee’s child(ren).
26. Walk around with free lunch coupons - Hand out on the spot.
27. Give workers a surprise for their work area - A desk organizer, a picture or poster, a new mouse pad even. Any new gift will be an interesting novelty.
28. Give a subscription to a work-related periodical - This is an interesting gift that shows your commitment to their professional development.
29. Buy lottery tickets or scratch cards for people on an irregular basis.
30. Hand out classic self help literature and excellant leadership books – Hand these out to entire departments at a time, or they may feel that you’re indirectly critisising them. Success literature can really inspire employees to work harder – but be wary of the core message of the book. Many of these books encourage workers to quit their 9-5 jobs.
31. Give recognition – Every worker wishes wants to be ‘known’ by those above them, so talk about your workers to your managing collegues and ensure that none of your subordinates go un-noticed.
32. Give Attention – To be distinguished from recognition. Recognition is the long term awareness that boosts self esteem, whereas attention is a short term devotion of time that will keep employees on task and able to voice concerns as early as possible.
33. Applause - Because sometimes words just aren’t enough.
34. Always carry a smile – I once knew a senior manager who famously was never seen with a negative expression on his face. This sort of reputation really inspired subordinates such as myself, and completely stands again the cynicism and sarcasm that exist in workplaces across the country.
35. ‘Manage by wandering around’ – Rather than calling employees to your office, go and visit them yourself. This is a sign of respect and reduces the interuptive impact you have on your team.
36. Listening to employee efficiency suggestions – And more importantly you should be acting on as many as possible, even the petty suggestions. This way you build up credibility in the system, leading to more important, significant proposals to be put forward in the future.
37. Lead by example and follow through with what you say. Just as following through with suggestion box comments you build credibility in the system, if you follow through with your own promises, you build credibility in the system of management as a whole.
38. Ask! - Ask the employees what they want from you.
39. Listen! – Listen to what employees have to say about YOU and what you can personally improve upon.
40. Add a personal touch by going out of your way to inconvenience yourself to please a member of staff. Just the occasional gesture in a busy period can be enough to remove that employees doubt over whether you have their best interests at heart.
41. Understand employee behaviour - Often a negative attitiude or behaviour is a direct response to bad controls/procedures that you can correct or change.
42. Write thankyou notes fairly regularly – These notes only take a second, and will float around for a long time, making the employee feel proud.
43. Actively make a point to speak to every member of staff each day. This doesn’t need to be a major catch up, but just enough so that you’re maintaining a good working relationship, and they would feel comfortable in coming to you when they’re struggling.
44. Ask employees “What can I do to help you with your job?”. You may surprised at the responses and ideas you get in return. A little help like this can sometimes be more effect than formal leadership coaching or leadership training.
45. Get your hands dirty with your staff - Learn about the good and bad aspects of their day to day work. Only through understanding what their day actually entails will you be able to see what would motivate and enthuse this person to work more effectively.
46. Show the courage to let your employees learn from their mistakes - Don’t jump on their error and shout at them, as they will already feel embarassed enough. Managers often destroy many hours of work building up trust and enthusiasm by loosing control and shouting at workers when things go badly. Nothing destroys intrinsic motivation quite as quickly as raving tyrant.
47. Show great confidence in relying on subordinates expertise in areas that you have none – Trusting in the skills of others is a sign of a great leader. It will improve the confidence of others as well as take some weight and responsibility off your shoulders.
48. Stand behind your employees and back their decisions - Similar to relying on a subordinates’ expertise, this will improve their view of their own skills, and benefit you in the long run.
49. If you have many employees with the same job title, give them a list of the tasks that need doing and let them divide the work up among themselves. It reduces the feeling of ‘meddling manegement’ and allows for more efficient work allocation - as people are more likely to take on jobs that they’re personally good at.
50. Don’t be a pushover - While nearly every employee would love to have a soft manager, they would also admit that it is because they would do less work. Be clear with orders and don’t allow yourself to be fobbed off with excuses.
51. Arrange discounts for them at local stores to increase loyalty
52. Offer rewards for great ideas. If it saves money or brings in business, give the employee a percentage of the savings or profit. – entreprenial atttiude.
53. Send $10, $25 or more to a spouse with a thank-you note for his or her support during the employee’s overtime.
54. Pay an employees rent for a month - This will take the weight of their shoulders more than a simple cheque would. Give your employee piece of mind.
55. Pay for the tutoring of an employee’s child - This is a generous ‘donation’ that will really help establish true loyalty and admiration for the company.
56. Give employees who recruit new workers a cash bonus.
57. Sponsor membership in a professional group for your employee.
58. Surprise your staff with a new challenge out of the blue – Give your employees 2 weeks to increase their sales by 15% for a 5% salary bonus reward and watch how they suddenly start looking at their work in a whole different way.
59. Move your staff onto more heavy commission based salaries – This brings employees personal goals in line with those of a sales department. A word of warning – make sure the variable upon which the commission is based is what you truely want. Because staff will often chase that commission at the expense of others goals such as customer satisfaction and quality of service.
60. Give out gift vouchers as a way of rewarding individuals for a good job on a specific task – Amounts of £50 are respectable but won’t break the bank. You can reserve these for when staff members have demonstrated working by company’s values, or have shown hard work.
61. Give generous staff discounts on products - This is a rather standard perk in the modern day, but its effect on employee morale must not be forgotten.
62. Pizza/Popcorn/Cookie Days - These really put a smile on alot of employees faces. Just hope that few people are on strict diets at the time!
63. External Seminars - These can be attended by individuals, teams or whole departments if they’r relevant. Trips to seminars, events and conferences can be a welcome break from work for staff, while actually still building their skills and adding value to the company.
64. Dress-down Days – Again, another motivational tool that has become a standard in all companies large and small. And why are they popular? Because it really does improve morale!
65. Leadership Teasers - Give employees a glimpse at what it is like to run a team, lead a division or speak in public. These positive ‘taster’ leadership sessions will really get them hooked onto their career track and really kick start leadership development.
66. Share letters of praise from customers with the member(s) of staff involved - A kind word from a customer not only gives effective feedback on the service at your organisation, but it also warms the hearts and motivates the staff who read the mark of appreciation. These are so effective that I would suggest you contact customers to ask for feedback.
67. Have a family day - Perhaps on the last day before a public holiday, you could arrange for staff to bring their children to work. As well as lightening the atmosphere of the workplace, it also helps create harmony and understanding between workers, as they come to understand more about each other and what they’re like as a family person.
68. Go to lunch with each one of your employees on a quarterly basis – Ask the question, “What do we need to do to keep you with us?”
69. Invite employees to your home for a special event - This gives you the opportunity to recognise them in front of their spouses and co-workers. Obviously only suitable for small businesses or departments, this activity is a rare but powerful one.
70. Let them attend a meeting in your place – As well as giving temporary empowerment to your staff, letting them sit in or replace you in a meeting also will increase their understanding of what pressures you are under and what you need from them.
71. Let them “sit-in” with an upper level person for part of a day – Similar to the leadership taster, this shadowing of senior management is more appropriate for junior members of staff. Middle management may feel uneasy about taking a perceived ‘step back’ into the activity of shadowing.
72. Involve them in a special project that allows for company exposure and visibility. Such as being written about in the news. All too often – these sorts of tasks are handled by only a couple of individuals who become desensitised to the novelty of being publically recognised. By rotating these sort of tasks round a larger number of employees, you are efficiently maximising the motivation gained from such a job position.
73. Let your employees craft the mission statement – More and more managers are discovering how effective this is as a motivational tool. It’s most powerful when absolutely every employee contributes torwards it’s creation. Without proper employee involvement – mission statements are simply empty rhetorical ‘wish lists’ of values and objectives put forward by the CEO.
74. Minature golf and other fun indoor activities - Fun golf courses, bowling alleys, Scalextric tacks and casino tables can be affordably hired in a recession as businesses cut back on novelty client entertainment and expenses. You can use this to your advantage by hiring such fun equipment to become the centrepiece of a project-end event. Having something fun to look forward to at the end of each major project will have a motivational effect.
75. Team building days out – In a similar fashion, outdoor activity courses and events can also be used to keep your staff happy and promote good team leadership.
76. Hand out awards - Prizes for awards such as ‘best team player’, ‘best attitude’ etc should be also accompanied by humourous ‘caffeine addict’, ‘chief photocopier person’ and other quirky awards.
77. Run short term target-based competitions between staff for freebies or bonuses. But ensure a level playing field or you’ll only create frustration and conflict!
78. Take your employees to the cinema. Cinemas offer cheap corporate deals and will cater well for your employees. Picking the right film is tricky though!
79. Promote the creation of company sports teams – These will help build ties across departments. Encourage recruitment from all areas, rather than simply being teams of cliques.
80. Develop a Wall of Fame to share letters of praise and similar with everyone in the office – Put it near the photocopier for maximum exposure.
81. Create personalised rewards – everyone values different types of rewards more than others. Some workers prefer time off, others prefer cash, so ask people which they’d prefer before setting up any bonus or reward scheme.
82. Additional Responsibility – While you may grimace at the idea of being given ‘another’ batch of responsibility, a more junior member of staff may actually jump at the thought. Start leadership programmes that give subordinates that opportunity at stepping up.
83. When pay cheques are sent out, always write a note on the envelope recognizing an employee’s accomplishment(s).
84. Try to remove all the cynical and sarcastic posters & slogans from around the office. They provide a cheap giggle but demoralise staff. A quick example of short term benefit, long term pain.
85. Remember birthdays with a simple birthday card, mini cake or gift.
86. Take out an advertisement in a local paper and include your star employees’ names and pictures in the feature.
87. Speak truthfully and transparently – All employees have a good skill at knowing when they’re being lied to, so don’t even attempt to pull the wool over their eyes. Learn from Obama – he didn’t try to tell America that the economic was just a ‘little’ bit under-the-weather; he told it how it was. Rather than trying to cover up the failings in a company, instead emphasise how you are going to solve it, and employees will reward you with hard work.
88. Increase your employees span of control – this decreases costs and motivates them if they’re the type that crave control and authority.
89. Remind people of what drives them to do what they do. Allow pictures of family and other such drivers to be strewn around the office, and talk to them about their family, their dreams for the future and desires. You can use their dreams to motivate them easily.
90. Pin up genuine motivational posters etc around the office. These motivational quotes really do inspire some people.
91. Get your employees to replace their default screen saver with a playful ‘Get off your butt and back to work’ message that they’ve typed themselves.
92. Let employees give new recruits on-the-job training - It’ll show them how much they’ve grown as an employee in your company and leave them feeling senior and skilled.
93. Make sure you know everyones name in the office - whether they’re in your span of control or not.
94. Ensure free coffee is available. Caffeine or hot chocolate will always help!
95. Have a bowl of fresh fruit for employees to snack on – The women especially will appreciate this nice gesture, yet it only costs a tiny amount per day.
96. Make sure the service staff (cleaners, janitor, receptionist) greet staff throughout the day, rather than simply trying to be invisible.
97. Play the occasional tasteful practical joke
98. Invite in a motivational speaker to talk to your staff - These speakers often charge high fees however, so ensure that their key messages concern long lasting motivation rather than a ‘fad-like’ short term buzz that will fade as the speaker slips from memory.
99. Give your team a cool team name - Admittedly easier said than done.
100. Ensure that all members of staff feel that they are the best at at least one task - This will give them a ‘place’ in the organisation and make them feel important.
101. Finally - Share this blog post with other managers in your organisation!
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