Top five tips for employee motivation

Employee Motivation Day takes place on 25th February, so we speak to three times Olympic medalist and motivational speaker Roger Black who is working alongside Argos for Business, as part of the campaign to put employee motivation to the forefront of business thinking and champion creative ways of engaging staff.

Using his experiences in the sporting arena and translating this into the workplace, Roger Black offers these top employee motivation tips to small business owners:

employee motivation1. Give your employees more responsibility

In 1991, Team GB won a gold medal for the 4×400 metre relay team in the World Championships. In a brave move, and instead of listening to the coach, we made the decision to change the running order the night before the race, and that decision ultimately resulted in a gold medal. The final for this race is still considered one of the biggest upsets in athletics, and is talked about regularly.

Within an SME, by giving your team members responsibility to make decisions about what they do, you will see an increase in engagement and a greater commitment to tasks – because they have made it their own. In 2015, Argos for Business’ research showed that taking on responsibility was the main motivator for over a quarter of UK employees, and this resonates in the sporting arena, as well as the workplace.

2. Organise team building workshops

In sport, you tend to spend every day with your teammates pursuing a goal, whereas in business you don’t actually spend that much time together, especially as some team members may work remotely. In fact, 21 per cent of the UK workforce say they receive praise and recognition via email, rather than face-to-face. You’re on the same team but you’re not actually physically together, day in, day out. The challenge is getting people to have face-to-face contact more regularly – this can be achieved by organising team building sessions offsite.

3. Make training available to your employees

Athletes are driven by a desire to improve and get better at something. The British team were good at what they did, but we all had an innate desire to do even better, and find creative ways of improving and that drove success. By offering training to employees, managers can help them to realise their goals by giving them the education they need, and ensuring they learn about new aspects of business and even higher-level managerial skills they can use further down the line.

4. Work smart, not hard

Just because you or your employees clock 15 hours a day at the office doesn’t mean you have accomplished things in a smart way. Make sure you take regular breaks and step away from your desk and encourage employees to do the same.

In practice, hard work can get an athlete to the finals of a competition, but smart work will get the athlete on the medal podium. Hard work is not the only factor that will determine if the athlete is successful or not – many other factors will also contribute to the athlete’s success, such as practice, tactics, preparation and strategy.

5. Set clear goals and offer words of encouragement

Like my 4x400m team, different departments and teams within an organisation need to set goals, whether that’s yearly, monthly or even daily. It’s also important that these goals are based on a clear collective vision to inspire the team, while making sure realistic targets have been set so that goals aren’t unachievable. With the goal in sight, employees will feel more motivated to perform to the best of their ability. As a business leader or manager, it is equally important to recognise the team’s hard work – for over a third of UK employees, all it takes is a simple ‘thank you’ to motivate them during the nine to five.