As a business owner, manager, or team leader, it’s not hard to tell when your team is lacking motivation and has overall low morale. Not only can you see it and feel it, but your customers can too. Low energy employees with bad attitudes can send your customers right out the door — never to return. Think about it. You don’t like going into a coffee shop, dentist office, auto dealership, or any other type of business where the energy is low and the employees act like they’re too bored, tired and unmotivated to care. This type of attitude can be especially prevalent in January when the post-holiday doldrums have settled in and business can be a little slower than usual. Some people flat out suffer from the winter blues, aka: SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or seasonal depression.
If you sense this is happening in your business, it’s time to turn the bus around and head the other direction — fast! Employee motivation can be described as one’s natural enthusiasm toward their job and the drive to excel at work-related activities. Morale is the overall comfort, happiness and satisfaction that one derives from their job and work environment. Putting some extra effort into motivating your team and boosting morale can put some much needed drive, energy, and commitment back into the workplace.
If you think your employees could benefit from a January jump-start in the motivation and morale departments, then read on. Here’s some “tried and true” tips to encourage, inspire, and re-energize everyone on your team — including yourself:
Find What Makes Them Tick
Everyone is motivated by something. Most people are motivated by a variety of factors such as faith, family, hobbies, and financial goals. What motivates one employee may not necessarily motivate another. Some work better with the public or on a team while others work better solo. Everyone is at a different stage in their life so there is no “one size fits all.”
As a business leader, make it a point to learn what motivates each of your employees individually and what motivates them as a team — collectively. Most employees will appreciate that you have taken a personal interest in them and will likely be more open and eager to share information about what really makes them tick. Knowing what motivates your crew will help you nurture their growth in the company. Plus, it will help foster loyal employees, candor, and camaraderie in the workplace.
Recognizing a job well done cannot be overstated. Everyone likes (and deserves) to know that their work is appreciated no matter who they are or what position they are in. Showing appreciation creates an emotional connection between an employer/employee and fulfills a basic human need of belonging and feeling appreciated. This equates to happy, motivated employees who want to work hard for you.
While showing appreciation is always a good thing, make sure that you do it in a way that does not embarrass your employee(s) or make them feel uncomfortable. This is where really knowing your team comes in handy. Some people do not like being thrust into the spotlight even when they are being honored, while others thrive on it. Either way, never miss the opportunity to express your gratitude and let your employees know how much they are appreciated.
You can really get a lot of mileage out of this one! (No pun intended). Celebrating milestones, big and small, helps keep your team connected and feeling appreciated whether they’re working under the same roof or remotely. Milestones can include: birthdays, work anniversaries, overcoming a health challenge, grand openings, remodels, completion of a major project, hitting a sales goal, or just making it through a rough year. A win is a win.
Whether you celebrate virtually or in person — have some fun. Recognize those who helped make it happen. Throw out a few prizes. Cheer each other on. This helps build rapport and camaraderie throughout your business which ultimately leads to high morale and motivated employees. Don’t let a milestone pass by without stopping a moment. There is always a reason to celebrate.
In today’s business world, an employee wellness program is much more than offering free flu shots or providing medical insurance. Taking a personal interest in your employees’ physical and mental well-being is key to an overall healthy work environment. Employees who feel good mentally, physically and emotionally are sharper, more productive and much less likely to be grouchy to customers and other employees.
Developing a culture of health and wellness will pay off big time on many levels and it doesn’t have to cost your company a lot of money. How about starting a lunchtime walking group or trading out services for some gym memberships? If your team works remotely, you can keep each other accountable. Encourage self care and never overlook mental health. Make sure your team has mental health resources available and that a door is always open to a conversation.
A little friendly competition in the workplace can be a huge driver in motivating employees and boosting morale. Whether it’s around reaching sales goals, a chili cook-off, competing on a company sports team or bowling league, or even a game of Boggle — competition in the workplace fosters accountability, goal-setting and good work relationships. Throwing in some nice prizes always helps.
Keep in mind that while friendly competition in the workplace should definitely be encouraged, it should never be forced. Not every employee is athletic, has a competitive nature, and likes to play games. Try to include these employees in other ways. Offer to let them keep score, hand out prizes, or just be a spectator.
The Golden Rule
As mentioned above, friendly competition in the workplace can be motivating and is usually a good thing. However, you never want that competitive spirit to turn cutthroat. Personalities are going to clash at times. That’s life. However, contention between employees can spread like wildfire. Nothing squelches high morale and motivation faster than disgruntled, gossipy, backstabbing employees.
What you want to avoid at all costs is creating a toxic workplace culture. As a leader, you must step in and nip this behavior before it gets out of hand. Lead by example. Let it be known early on that the Golden Rule applies in the workplace: Treat others the way that you want to be treated. Period. It’s a simple principle that doesn’t require a lot of explanation. Those who can’t (or won’t) abide should be reprimanded or weeded out.
Invest In Some Swag
When sports teams wear matching uniforms it automatically evokes a sense of unity and identity. Your team is no different. When players match, whether it’s their mindset or the T-shirts they are wearing, they know that they are all unified toward a common goal. Investing in some fun company apparel or accessories for your crew will help them look and feel more like a team — boosting morale and enhancing their motivation.
Plus, there’s an extra benefit: having your company name/logo on hats, hoodies, T-shirts and other items will help brand your business and help your team stand out as movers and shakers in the community. Your company apparel will help tell the world that you’re a team. Snazzy company swag is always great for company events or to give out as incentives, prizes, or client gifts.
Lead With Vision
Your vision is the dream and direction for your business. While it may sound trite, leading with vision is truly one of the most important things an employer can do. Nothing builds company morale and motivates employees like a leader who knows where the business is going and has a solid plan and a team in place to get there.
Effectively communicating your company vision to your team keeps everyone on the same page working toward a common goal. January is the perfect time to revisit and reassess your company’s overall vision. Engaging your employees by asking for their input can boost motivation and put some renewed commitment and drive in your business as you move into the new year.
Your Team Is Worth It
You take pride in your team and have invested a lot of time and energy finding and training the right people for your company. Investing in your employees with some fun, morale boosting activities and polishing up your leadership skills as you lead them into a new year is well worth a little extra effort.
When you take the time to invest in your employees’ satisfaction this January, you will start reaping the benefits of a stronger workforce. Not only will you feel accomplished and more motivated as a leader, but you’ll see it pay off tenfold with happier employees, camaraderie in the workplace, less turnover and absenteeism, and most importantly – increased production and quality work that will ultimately benefit the entire company.
If you would like to learn more about how to retain your customers (in addition to your employees), you can fill out the form below to download our free Retention Guide.