If you love your job, you are among the few throughout the world who can honestly say they do. The fact is, more and more people in America are not fully engaged with their jobs. According to a Gallup poll of 195,000 American workers, 67% of employees are either “not engaged” or “fully disengaged” from their work.
It might surprise you to know that the main reason is not about salary (although it would help bring a smile to the faces if take-home pay were increased). It’s more likely that most employees are unhappy with their day-to-day lives.
A study of businesses across different industries reveals that somewhere between $450 billion and $550 billion in lost productivity due to low morale each year. Many employees feel like they are boxed into a corner when it comes to their careers. They can’t quit because they need the money, and so they continue on. Try to chart the stats for customer service complaints, absenteeism, reduced productivity and shrinkage, and there’s going to be some correlation between those and unhappy workers.
Why Do Employees Become Dissatisfied?
Before anything else, you need to know the reasons for employee dissatisfaction. Below are just a few of the reasons:
- They feel taken for granted
- They feel used
- They think their work is unrecognized
- They feel like their worth is not valued
- They think they are not being given equal opportunity
- They think they are underutilized
- They lose respect for the boss
- Poor communication
- They feel like they’re not trusted
Fortunately, all is not lost. Employee discontent can be rectified with proper incentives and motivation. The good news is that you don’t need to spend buku bucks to do so. Try to introduce the following motivational strategies to your staff, and immediately observe a change in attitude among everyone.
Periodic raffles throughout the year can really amplify employee engagement. A $20 gift card to a local hot spot will do the job just fine. Set a sales quota, for instance, and whoever can reach it first can get the free meal. To encourage camaraderie, group your employees and see which of them can strategize best to meet or exceed your targets.
#2. Give Little Rewards
Imagine being given an extra hour during lunchtime, or be allowed to leave early from work? How about free lunch courtesy of the boss? These little rewards can go a long way. A call center company took this concept to another level by installing in the office something similar to the Wheel of Fortune game. The wheel specifies certain rewards and deserving employees get to spin it once. Accordingly, just the sound of the wheel spinning in the middle of the day was enough to boost everybody’s morale.
#3. Beer and BBQ
Who doesn’t love food and alcohol? An informal get-together either at lunchtime or a half-day on a Friday is an opportunity for the team to blow off steam, eat and drink something tasty, and bond with their supervisors in a fun setting. You can invite the staff to a night out for some beer or pizza. Or you can invite them to your home for some barbecue and picnic.
One added advantage of this is helping your team see you as a human being. Introducing them to your family or kids, for instance, will likely erase their impression of you as a slave driver or a “robot” who cares more about the company profits than the people. You can even make this one a tradition. Just be sure to tell them that it will be a potluck next time.
#4. Let Them Go Home Early
Employees who settle into a routine are generally less productive. Try to find out the time of the day or week when, on average, your workers are least productive. Letting them go home early can be an incentive for people to work harder during the time they’re most productive.
You know what the least productive time of the day for the employee is?
Science found out that it’s 2:55 p.m. That’s when they are likely to zone out and get no work done. Instead, they check their phones, log in to Facebook, make those travel plans, or prepare their household budget.
Let them go home at this hour every now and then. Just make sure they believe that it’s an incentive for doing a good job.
#5. Institute Employee of the Month
This technique has been around for so long, and there’s a reason for that. It work.s There’s nothing like being recognized for your work by the company and your co-workers. A variation of this would be to publish the names of deserving employees in the company newsletter or website. The reward doesn’t have to be cash outright. The winning employee may have one extra day off from work, gets to choose their schedule for a day, or receive a corporate gift.
#6. Ensure a Clear ‘Ladderized’ Program
You know the fastest way to demotivate an employee? When they think they have no chance at being promoted. Workers understand that not everybody is given an opportunity to hold a managerial position. Everybody has a role to play in the organization, after all. Nevertheless, they need to find their future role in the company. If they feel that they are given the chance to climb that ladder toward a higher position (along with its pecuniary rewards), they will be motivated to work even harder.
#7. Make Them Supervisors for a Day
Rotate supervisory opportunities to your employees. Most people want to get the opportunity to take on a leadership role. Being supervisor for the day will allow them to expand their responsibilities and make decisions that can have an immediate or long-term impact on the organization. One additional advantage is that you can assess who among your employees have the potential to become future supervisors when you step down or dial back your responsibilities. As an aside, make sure this is completely voluntary. Not everyone is comfortable with being thrust into the spotlight. Some people are also quite content with where they are.
Shiny Happy People
In a TED Talk in 2011, Shawn Achor, the CEO of Good Think Inc., who is advocating for positive psychology, said that the brain is 31% more productive if the person is happy. He also claimed that only a quarter of work performance can be traced to intelligence. In fact, 7 in 10 people credit their success to a positive environment, the support they get from co-workers and families, and to look at stress as a challenge to overcome.
As you can see, employees who see personal growth in the workplace, feel like their work matters, feel like they have a stake in the company, and think that they are trusted to take the initiative and not just follow orders are more likely to be happier employees. And you already know that a happy employee is a motivated employee.