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What are the main employee motivation strategies?

What are the main employee motivation strategies?

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Many employees have different motivations for coming to work and doing a good job, and it's up to you to get the most out of all of them. One of the most obvious motivational strategies is of course money, whether in the form of pay increases or bonuses.

However, these may be neither necessary – nor always the best type of reward. Once offered, cash bonuses can come to be expected and quickly forgotten, especially if they are the only recognition employees receive.

On a teamwork basis
Frequent, positive feedback provided within an enjoyable team-oriented environment, makes a tremendous difference in employees' sense of being valued. With or without financial rewards, these cultural aspects of the workplace make an excellent morale raising investment in your staff and business.

This applies even in a strictly goal driven environment such as sales or investment banking. Strive to maintain an enjoyable, family-orientated atmosphere in which all employees focus on achieving team goals.

Recognise and reward good work
Praising employees for achieving their goals is important in maintaining an enjoyable work environment. Appreciation can range from positive feedback to small rewards and tokens.

A policy of recognising and rewarding success helps to inspire employees to work toward achievements. Staff will know that their contributions are valued and that management is confident in their capabilities.

Such a policy also inspires greater creativity and initiative by providing freedom to think outside of the box and know that it will be acknowledged. One way to further stimulate employees' creativity and confidence is to support continual education through classes, seminars, subscriptions and memberships.

If the strategy is unsuccessful
While encouraging creativity and rewarding success may come somewhat easily, it may be more difficult to spot why it isn't working.

Some of the signs are:

  • Reluctance to share ideas
  • A drop in productivity
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Persistent low morale

In all of these cases positive reinforcement is even more critical. You might even invite your own employees to work out a better way of achieving a motivational strategy. In this case, employees will feel further inspired and trusted.

The financial incentive
Monetary incentives and rewards can be part of your employee recognition program – but these still need to fit within the right culture. Direct reward for certain levels of success can actually lead to lack of cohesiveness and teamwork – especially if others feel they are missing out.

In addition to direct cash bonuses, overall profit-sharing plans or share options are also a way of rewarding and retaining staff. The advantage here is that the financial benefits are measurable and objective.

Financial incentives and rewards can be true motivators, but only when combined with ongoing verbal recognition and support.

Be responsible for a motivated workforce
Whether it is a football team, or a trading floor – motivation is the responsibility of management

The key to an effective workplace employee motivation strategy is to provide a range of incentives that will appeal to different personalities. While one individual may be highly money motivated another may find job satisfaction or creative opportunities as more powerful factors.

As a general rule excessive competition destroys morale. When teams work towards a shared goal they become more motivated. Perceived inequality of treatment leads to resentment, low morale and lack of self-motivation. More time is spent at work than anywhere else, so creating a professional, positive, social environment which people enjoy coming to everyday will make an encouraging difference to the workplace.