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How to Motivate Employees: 11 Must-try Tips

Austin Chegini
11 Jun 2021

Maintaining a productive workforce is a significant concern for any business. If employees lose their motivation, they can make costly mistakes, damage your business’s reputation, or stop showing up to work altogether.

By keeping your staff in good spirits, you can make working more enjoyable and improve operational efficiency. On top of this, businesses with happy employees have lower expenses than those with unhappy employees.  

Read on to see how to motivate employees and keep your business operating smoothly.

11 Ways to Motivate Employees

We’ve reviewed scientific studies, expert interviews, and dozens of other sources to find the best ways to increase employee motivation. Whether you manage a restaurant, retail store, or bar, the following tips are surefire ways to boost employee morale and productivity.

1. Set achievable goals

To start, employees need to understand what you expect from them. Even if they have a simple job like stocking shelves, your workers should have an objective to work toward. Not only does this give you a way to evaluate their performance, but it helps employees see what they’ve accomplished.

According to research by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, setting goals can improve employee engagement and boost your business’s performance. Here are their three tips for setting goals:

  • Involve employees from start to finish: Goals should be decided between you and the employee. By getting their input, you give the employee more ownership of the task.
  • Link individual goals to business objectives: Employees like to see how their contribution improves the business. Make sure to demonstrate how the goal will fit into the big picture.
  • Adapt goals in real-time: It’s no surprise that things change. To ensure your employees can meet the mark, adjust goals to make them more attainable or appropriate.

2. Recognise a job well done

Think about a time when you worked incredibly hard, yet all your efforts went unnoticed. That didn’t feel too good, right? 

The chances are your employees have felt this way from time to time. While you certainly can’t praise every little thing your workers do, you should make an effort to recognise each employee during their shift. 

Even if your employees are underperforming, you should still find something worthy of recognition. This small token of positive feedback can motivate a struggling worker to put in extra effort and eventually perform at the expected level.

3. Break large tasks into smaller assignments

Returning to the topic of goals, you never want to make your employees feel like they’re drowning in work. Instead of assigning one large task, think of ways to set incremental tasks that achieve the overall goal. 

For example, asking an employee to sell $100,000 worth of product during a fiscal quarter may sound like an immense task. Instead, setting the goal of selling $7,700 of product per week makes the goal much more attainable. 

During this process, be sure you are setting SMART goals. Using this acronym, you can ensure all tasks are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

4. Let employees own their role

Do you like someone telling you how to do something you already know? Have you ever thought you knew better than your boss? 

While you certainly know the ins and outs of your business, your employees may know the finer nuances of their specific duties. If you have never worked in their position or if it has been many years since you have, there may be some aspects of the job that you’ve forgotten. 

Once your employees demonstrate competency and satisfactorily perform their duties, give them some flexibility and power in their position. Not only does this increase their involvement in the business, but relegating power can improve operational efficiency. 

For example, a bartender who routinely speaks with customers may know more effective ways to sell drinks or promote special items. By giving your bartender the freedom to use their preferred sales methods, you can increase their performance and your bar’s total revenue.

5. Maintain consistent positivity 

Your employees likely have enough stress from personal life, your customers, and the job demands. In most cases, becoming another source of stress will not benefit your business. 

When times are tough and staff are struggling, a positive leader can help motivate the workforce to overcome the challenge. Even if you are just as stressed as your employees, you must demonstrate unwavering confidence to keep spirits high. 

As the saying goes, “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” 

You may be scrambling to keep your business moving, but your employees only ever see you as calm and collected. 

6. Offer one-on-one coaching

When you think of great motivational speeches, perhaps the image of the president or military general speaking to thousands comes to mind. While this type of interaction can invigorate a crowd, you are often better suited to individually engage your employees. 

We all have different motivators. A fiery speech may suit some employees, but others might require a gentle conversation or step-by-step guide to overcome a challenge. 

Also, personalised conversations allow you to demonstrate just how much the individual worker means to your business. At the same time, it gives you the chance to see what problems the employee may have and recommend solutions to make them feel more motivated.

7. Create a fun, competitive environment

If you work in a sales-oriented or performance-driven environment, healthy competition can increase everyone’s output. When combined with your SMART goals, this type of motivational approach can result in higher revenue and a more effective team. 

Keep in mind that competition is not for everyone, so review your company culture to see if this is a suitable way to encourage employees. Some people dislike seeing their name on the wall comparing their output to others. In the worst cases, competitions can cause employees to feel self-conscious and actually hinder their output. 

Before you begin a competition, consider these guidelines:

  • Make it positive: Your goal is to motivate employees to perform better. No aspect of the competition should result in negative feelings or be used to assess job performance.
  • Recognise all departments: Many of us are familiar with prizes for salespeople, but what about the other areas of your business? Come up with competitions that reward everyone from custodians to office administrators. 
  • Align it with business goals: While having an event like a Step Challenge can increase employee morale and health, you also want to boost output. Find ways to plan competitions that help you reach your long-term objectives.

8. Lead from the front

When times are tough, your employees will be looking for reassurance to get them through a gruelling shift. If you are hidden away in your office or don’t appear to be working, your staff will lose morale. Even if you are busy with work, how are they supposed to know this? 

If you are suddenly hit with increased demand or other stressful circumstances, demonstrate to your team members that you are working alongside them. Simply being present can motivate employees and make them feel like the entire team is working toward one goal. 

For example, if you run a restaurant and see waiters are slammed with orders, start delivering food to alleviate their workload. Likewise, if you manage a store and see long checkout lines, open another register to reduce wait times. 

9. Offer advancement opportunities

Few people plan to keep a single job their entire lives. They usually will have another job in mind that they are working toward obtaining. 

If you do not show employees the future role they can have, you can reduce their commitment to your business. Instead of a worker thinking that they will be promoted, they will instead be looking for a new job once they have enough experience. This will ultimately result in higher turnover and labour costs. 

To keep staff engaged, make sure you list how they can advance in your company and what they need to do to earn a promotion. Even if your company is too small to offer promotions, explain how an employee can earn a raise and what it takes. 

10. Be a mentor

You may have heard the saying, “People don’t leave organisations. They leave managers.” While this is not completely true, it does have some merit. 

While even the best bosses can’t make workers stay forever, employees who do not feel valued will have no hesitation in leaving a bad manager. By being a good leader, you may be able to retain employees longer and increase their overall respect for the job. 

But being a leader is not always about giving instruction. Sometimes it is about providing professional advice; even it has no benefit on your business. 

When you help coach an employee on things that fall outside of their work duties, you are personally investing in them. You are showing them that you value them as an individual. This increases their commitment to you and creates a more positive environment. 

Eventually, this employee will leave your company. If you did your best to mentor this worker, they would be more likely to respectfully hand in their two weeks notice instead of quitting on the spot. Likewise, the employee may remain a professional acquaintance and refer people to your business or even become a customer/client. 

11. Invest in the right equipment

If you were instructed to complete a task but received old, broken tools, would you feel confident in your abilities? Perhaps you would, but completing the task would still be immensely more difficult than if you had the latest equipment. 

Now think about your business. Do you have the right tools to get the job done? Are you using outdated technology that makes work harder than it should be? 

If so, you are not motivating your employees and could be harming your business. Not only does outdated equipment make working for you less appealing, but it can lead to safety concerns and other issues. 

For many businesses, the most outdated piece of equipment is the point of sale system. This device is responsible for a variety of business functions. Without it, you will struggle to collect and process the data you need to function.

Setting up a EPOS is not always easy, so it makes sense for many business owners to rely on an old system they invested so much time and money in. However, this mindset can lead to problems. Not only are outdated EPOS systems slow and ineffective, but they can put your business data at risk. 

If you are using an old EPOS system or need one for a new business, speak with the experts at Epos Now. As a global supplier of EPOS solutions, we understand what businesses need to operate. Our devices feature the latest technology to quickly handle functions like:

  • Inventory management
  • Staff oversight
  • Online ordering
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Payment processing

Contact Epos Now today to see a demo of our EPOS software.