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Employee motivation is one of the most important metrics to consider in any organisation. Not only will happy employees perform their tasks much more efficiently, but higher levels of customer satisfaction and overall retention rates will be dramatically increased.

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However, it is an unfortunate fact that nearly half of all businesses within the United Kingdom have stated that their employees may be likely to look elsewhere for work. This can have dire consequences and may very well be the final determinant of the success or failure of your company. Thankfully, there are a number of sure-fire methods to motivate employees and keep them aspiring to contribute to your business. Robert Half created an excellent resource of 25 ways but here are 7 key areas:

Keeping the employee ‘in the loop’ through honesty

All stakeholders must be made clear of vision statements as well as the long- and short-term goals of the company. Those who feel left out are less likely to take their role seriously. The same holds true in terms of how they are expected to perform. Clearly displaying a ‘road map’ and providing concise instructions will enable them to better perform their duties. Should a project be difficult or challenging, be honest with them up front and let them know what they will be facing. Otherwise, they may feel as if they were left in the dark on purpose. All three of these approaches enable them to feel part of the team while appreciating the candour that you have provided.

The importance of engagement

An employee should never feel as if he or she is a small cog in a large and unfeeling machine. Therefore, engaging with them is critical. Maintain an open mind and ask for their input on important projects. Listen to what they have to say and respond in kind. If they are hesitant to do so, take a more proactive stance and encourage them to step forward; even if only within a one-on-one basis. Likewise, get to know your staff on an interpersonal level. Enquire about their interests, hobbies and passions. This will accomplish two different goals. First, an employee will be more likely to speak to you if a concern arises. Secondly, there are many times when a small contribution could lead to a massive breakthrough in terms of product development, sales or marketing.

Reward well-done jobs

Employees need to be rewarded for their creativity and motivation. Otherwise, whatever impetus they may have exhibited could soon fade. They must be aware that management appreciates their hard work. In turn, they will be more willing to go the “extra mile” and continue contributing to the organisation.

Push the envelope (with help)

An employee should always be encouraged to stray from their comfort zones and take on more responsibility. This will display that there is room for growth within the company. This also demonstrates that you have faith in their abilities and are willing to trust them with important tasks. Of course, robust levels of training should accompany this momentum. An employee is much more likely to remain with a company should he or she believe that they will be consistently improving their skill sets. It is also a great idea to take some time and discuss their career aspirations within a one-on-one scenario. Everyone needs to feel that they are working towards a specific goal.

Constructive criticism

An employee will respond much better to a bit of positive redirection as opposed to being ‘chewed out’ by the boss. Should this need to occur, make certain that it is not performed in front of other staff members. Point out any mistakes and discuss how they can be avoided in the future. In the same context, offer them help if they feel that it is required. This could be delegating tasks to other team members or even hiring temporary staff to deal with an increased workload.

Incentives are key

Reward employees when they reach certain milestones (once again, these should be made clear). This could be in the form of a bonus, extra holidays or even a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Be liberal with such praise when it is well deserved. Even stating ‘good work!’ in front of other employees is a great way to foster pride and develop and even stronger work ethic amongst your staff.

The work/life balance

Time away from the office is one of the best ways to avoid medium-term burnout. When possible, provide more flexible schedules and take a poll to see which holidays are the most important to your employees. During more challenging times of the year, leaving a few hours early on a Friday or offering a group luncheon are both great ways to reduce stress.

Above all, you will need to create an environment where your employees enjoy working. Basic courtesy, positive encouragement and providing timely incentives are some of the ways in which this can be accomplished. Of course, these are but a handful of the most effective methods for achieving sustained levels of motivation. The bottom line here is simple. An employee who feels that he or she is an integral part of a business will perform at better levels, take greater pride in their work and come to you if a problem or concern happens to arise along the way.