35 effective ways to motivate your employees

By Maxime Lacroix

When we think about IT companies, we imagine the pleasure employees have in developing together and how motivated they are in their daily tasks. It is exactly this corporate image that attracts and retains the best talent.

Not only are engaged employees more loyal, but they are also much more productive. Committed employees put 57% more effort into their work according, to a PWC Study. Hence, it is not surprising that companies with highly-engaged employees have earnings per share 147% higher than their competitors.

When employees have a sense of belonging within your company, they create innovative products and exceed customer expectations. This is why it is so important to engage employees.

Here are 35 ideas that will help you motivate your staff and increase business productivity.

1  Express Your Gratitude
1. Express Your Gratitude

Openly appreciate your colleagues’ efforts and show them that you notice their small daily actions. You will be surprised by the power of a compliment or a sincere thank you.

However, be careful! We are not talking about sending a thank you by email. Here are some suggestions:

  • Write a handwritten card to show your appreciation.
  • Thank and congratulate the employee publicly during a meeting.
  • Send a congratulatory email to your own manager while including the employee (cc).

Give your employees visibility and frequently recognize their efforts, and keep their motivation high.

2  Be Transparent
2. Be Transparent
Share your successes frequently. Share your challenging moments as well. Your employees will be grateful to know, and they will be able to help you.

A human heart is more affected by the evil of others than its own.

Jean Baptiste Blanchard

Telling the truth in important moments brings mutual aid and helps demonstrates that you respect your employees. Furthermore, employees might think of a solution that you have not thought of, or they might even work harder to thank you for your sincerity.

3  Reward Them Personally

3. Reward Them Personally

The annual bonus is often perceived as a must-have rather than recognition for all the efforts made throughout the year. If possible, offer your employees personal rewards all year long – of a smaller amount of course, but more consistent and sincere.

Does she like good food? Give her a gift card to Bouillon Bilk. 
Does he like surfing? Offer an outing to Oasis Surf.
Does she like music? Give her tickets to the 3 Doors Down concert talk she talks so much about.

Demonstrate that you know your employees personally. The same monetary value has a completely different meaning when it comes from the heart. Your employees will talk to their friends about it, and they will be much more grateful! And it is a good way to promote your business! 😉

4  Remind Them Why You Hired Them
4. Remind Them Why You Hired Them

Think about each employee in your team and remember the qualities that made you hire him/her.

Tell your employee what you saw in him/her during the interview and how impressed you were with his/her qualities, experience, and work ethics. Reinforce why his/her particular qualities are an asset for the business and why you think the employee excels in his/her role.

5  Proudly Announce Success
5. Proudly Announce Success

Proudly pass on customers’ positive feedback when they are satisfied with one of your employees.

Create the perfect atmosphere to share successes. Be funny, be authentic. You are probably familiar with the bell that is rang in the broker’s offices when a new sale is made. It is no coincidence that this way of announcing success is engraved in our memories!

Get a gong and hit it to gather your team around you when you have good news to share. Make it an event with every success to create a sense of pride in the team. Increase of your employees’ motivation guaranteed!

6  Build on the Company’s Vision
6. Build on the Company’s Vision

Clearly define the company’s vision and strategy and include employees in the development process. Make sure everyone understands the impact of their contribution on the organization’s success.

This is serious business: billionaire Zappos offers a bonus of  $2,000 to his employees to resign! Why? The company considers its corporate culture so important to its success that it prefers to pay employees to resign rather than retain employees who do not fully embrace its vision and values.

7  Do Team Activities
7. Do Team Activities

Build strong connections between team members:

Have a BBQ at a team member's place

Organize a Happy Hour and pay the first drink to increase employees' participation

Offer lunch from the best local bakery

Organize "escape the room" activities

Leave the office at 3 p.m. to have a picnic by the lake, play volleyball and paddle a little with your group

What is the difference that you
make in your community?
8  Define How Your Business Creates Value
8. Define How Your Business Creates Value

Your employees want to know that they made the right choice by engaging in your business. Explain to them why their work makes a difference for others:

  • Do you offer an extraordinary product or excellent customer service?
  • Do you have an important social mission?
  • Do you create personal bonds with your customers?
  • Maybe you help them have a better quality of life…

Make sure that each of your solidarity initiatives is valued. Demonstrate your actions in favor of the environment and the results of your donations or volunteer days concretely. Do not stop saying you donated $50,000 while explaining how this money is used and its impacts.

Psst. Subscribe to the breast cancer research newsletter if you donate and share scientific breakthroughs with your employees. The result is the fuel of the efforts. This is partly because of your efforts if medicine progresses in such important causes…

In short, find out what your business brings to the community and communicate it frequently.

9  Do the 52/17
9. Do the 52/17

Statistics show that employees are more productive when they take frequent breaks to focus on their tasks. DeskTime, a productivity application, has analyzed top performers’ data and found out that they work intensively for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break to change their minds completely.

Encourage them to talk to each other during breaks, play table tennis or walk outside. Not only will they be more productive with frequent breaks, but they will also create more connections between colleagues.

10  Develop Personal Projects
10. Develop Personal Projects

Many innovative companies give between 10% and 20% of employees’ work time to personal projects to solicit new ideas. Cultivating intrapreneurship helps motivate employees and retains the best talent within the company.

The 20% granted to personal projects allowed to create the most popular products at Google including Gmail, Adsense and Google News.

Take Friday afternoons or Monday mornings to encourage your employees’ creativity by freeing them to pursue a personal project related to your industry. Let the ideas come to life in the office; it could become an important innovation in your field and even become your next success!

Although Google has changed its approach in recent years, this approach benefits many innovative companies, including Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Apple who have relied on intrapreneurial culture to motivate staff. CGI is a great example of this corporate model culture by setting up mini-companies within the company.

11  Help Them Get to Better Know Themselves
11. Help Them Get to Better Know Themselves

77% of people say they made a bad career, choice according to a Globe & Mail poll. No wonder the high turnover rate…

To retain and motivate your employees, help them identify what interests them in their work. Vary the tasks and let them discover new interests they did not know about. Offer projects that are different from their usual area of excellence, so they will want to thrive in your business.

Try to distribute the tasks so that everyone’s interests are covered. You may even outsource certain tasks so that your employees are more motivated. Calculate the difference in cost between replacing an unmotivated employee unsatisfied with his job and giving that same work as a contract to a consultant or a private company…

12  Do Not Micromanage
12. Do Not Micromanage

Give your employees latitude. Let them be autonomous and see the whole picture and results of their projects rather than supervising each step. Emphasize the trust you have in them, and they will reward you by doing high-quality work and being more creative.

13  Jump Into the Action at the Right Time
13. Jump Into the Action at the Right Time

Join the office and show your employees that you are part of the team. Call an unsatisfied customer, compare two contracts or analyze a brochure when others do not have time. Seeing bosses and managers take part in the daily tasks demonstrates a lot of respect. Of course, it should not be frequent. This should be a very occasional type of help; otherwise, it is not advantageous for the company.

14  Be Humble – Ask for Feedback
14. Be Humble – Ask for Feedback

You frequently evaluate your employees’ performance. Be honest and ask them what you can do better. Demonstrate that you listen and understand the feedback they give you. Allow them to give you anonymous feedback.

15  Ask for Advice
15. Ask for Advice

If you are at a dead-end, ask your employees for advice even if you are their manager. This will demonstrate to them how much you value their judgment and their contribution to the company. There is no point in being an alpha male. Your employees could find the solution you have been looking for for a long time, and you will work better together.

16  Share your Responsibilities
16. Share your Responsibilities

Break the vertical hierarchical structure and delegate. Offer your employees important new tasks that will offload you and motivate them with their work. Above all, tell them that you are confident that they will succeed:

  • Get them involved in the hiring process. Can they re-read the job offer? After all, they are the ones who will work the most with the candidate.
  • Offer them a project to manage and the coordination of responsibilities between departments. They will gain experience and create relationships with other teams.
  • Do lunch training or updates on the current market. Every week, an employee learns about new trends in your market and shares his research with the team. You could even pay for the pizza!

17  Give Importance to Your Employees’ Career Development

17. Give Importance to Your Employees’ Career Development

Create a personal development plan for each employee.

Define the precise results and behaviors needed to reach the employee’s next level of career path. Create measurable goals. It is best to tell what percentage (%) of the goal is achieved for the development plan to be effective.

Avoid generic measures, such as “Support the team for the delivery of reports” or “Deliver such a project in the 3rd quarter and ensure there are no mistakes”. These objectives bring little results; they are, in fact, only the employee’s job description, and they do not bring anything very definite.

Instead, use Objectives and Key Results (OKR) to measure the outcome. For example, Google has been using it since its inception:

Set 4 to 6 OKR per quarter and be sure to measure the result. If the employee still achieves his goals, it is because they are not ambitious enough.

Mentor your employees to help them analyze problematic situations. Support them in their learning research. Get involved when they ask you for advice.

A concrete career plan is a great employee motivator.

18  Share your Success
18. Share your Success

By delegating tasks that provide visibility, you give your employees the ability to make important decisions and accelerate the growth of the business. Not to be alarmed, they will invest in the tasks entrusted to them and it will earn them your gratitude, their colleagues’ and even of the big boss!

19  Focus on Continuous Learning
19. Focus on Continuous Learning

Creative people like to learn new things. Let them learn new software, new theories or attend conferences. If your budget is limited, find out about free available webinars.

20  Employee Weekly Success
20. Employee Weekly Success
In your team meetings, take a minute to spot a person who stood out this week. Explain how this colleague exceeded expectations; whether it was a delivery of a project, training, apprenticeship, customer acquisition, etc.

Ask senior employees every week to suggest people who have done an impeccable job this week and publicly acknowledge this employee.

21  Invest in Technology
21. Invest in Technology

Do not force your employees to work with your old technology simply because they are still functional…

Investing in new computers may seem pointless in the short run if your current equipment is suitable for day-to-day tasks. Think further and think fast, a slow computer slows down your team, it demotivates them and encourages them to take a break whenever it takes too much time to download content or the calculation period exceeds a few seconds.

Get powerful computers, 22 “widescreen displays and the latest Microsoft Office suite. It is faster, more powerful and more enjoyable. Best of all, Microsoft has finally managed to offer the full collaborative team work version with the 2016 license (2013 and earlier versions do not completely allow it).

Do not enter in the zone

22  Do Not Enter in the Zone
22. Do Not Enter in the Zone
Interrupting people while they are in the zone is not productive. Momentum is important when you are very focused on a task; it is at this moment that we produce the best and we are captivated by our work. It takes time to fully recover when one has been disturbed. If you see colleagues focused on their tasks, try as much as possible to postpone our question.

After loosing concentration in full focus mode, it is not uncommon for people to take a short break before getting back to work…

23  Be Flexible in the Work Schedule
23. Be Flexible in the Work Schedule
Let employees decide on the work schedule when they do not have meetings.

If your company policy is more formal, set the time of the day as mandatory office hours (i.e., 10 am to 3 pm) and let them decide on the distribution of the remaining work hours. If they can save traffic or organize their schedule to pick up children at the daycare, they will be much more productive and motivated during office hours.

A study by Cochrane demonstrates that choosing your work hours is good for your health. Absenteeism rate is lower amongst healthy employees ?

24  Stir Emotions at Work
24. Stir Emotions at Work
Creative employees perform best when they have a sense of attachment to the project they are working on. Put them completely in charge of a project. Jointly develop a timeline and let them lead the project with all departments. Make them feel that this is THEIR project and take the time to explain all the objectives so the employee gets ownership of the project’s mission.
25  Ask Them What their Goals Are
25. Ask Them What their Goals Are
Knowing your employees is crucial to keep them motivated in their work.

  • Ask them where they see themselves in a few years?
  • What are their interests in and outside the office?
  • With whom do they like to work? With whom do they get along the least?
  • What are their daily and long-term challenges?

If you listen well, you will gain the opportunity to get to know them better and find out how you can help them achieve their goals within your organization.

26  Set Timelines
26. Set Timelines

Have clear expectations by communicating deadlines. When employee motivation declines for a variety of reasons, timelines will stimulate them to deliver projects on time.

Careful! Be grateful when an employee finishes work before the deadline. Show him your gratitude. At the same time, if there are never any consequences for late work, the deadlines will have no effect on the motivation of the employee other than to demotivate more.

27  Laugh at Failures – Do Not Discipline
27. Laugh at Failures – Do Not Discipline
You could lose great ideas if your corporate culture does not encourage innovation. Employees need to be aware that failure of an important project will not hurt them within the company: they should not feel that an (unintended) mistake could drive them away from a promotion or even the possibility of a dismissal.

Instead, create an environment where innovation is encouraged and failure is not a dead-end. Laugh it out together and your employees will eventually want to try new ways of doing things in order to be more efficient and productive in the future. In the long run, it’s a guaranteed win-win: think back to Google’s personal projects; many of them were great failures but successful projects propelled the firm.

28  Have Lunch With Your Team
28. Have Lunch With Your Team
Spend time with your employees to develop a team chemistry with great impact. Take time at least once a week to have lunch with your colleagues and discuss other subjects besides work. Even if its just 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry but take the time to get to know them and appreciate them for whom they are rather than just as an employee.
29  Talk About Their Family
29. Talk About Their Family
You might think that your team is like your family, but most of them actually have a real family! Take the time to find out which family members are important to your employees. A sincere relationship will help create a better work environment.
30  Get Them Involved in Physical Activities
30. Get Them Involved in Physical Activities
Health affects the energy of employees. The more fit they are, the more productive they will be. Several offices organize friendly internal competitions or even with other companies. Inform your people about activities outside the office that could re-energize them or even organize them!

  • Learn about Ultimate Frisbee or Ball Hockey teams and sign up your company
  • Organize Olympics or in-house treasure hunts
  • Get step counters (Fitbit, why not?) and make a friendly competition
  • Use mobile tracking apps to make a chart of the best runners
31  Assign Collaborative Projects
31. Assign Collaborative Projects
Creative people like to exchange ideas and find better ways to do things. Working in a team is very motivating and can accelerate the creation of innovations.
32  Ask Them How They’re Doing, Sincerely…
32. Ask Them How They’re Doing, Sincerely…
Establish a real relationship. Take an interest in their lifestyle and how you can help them balance work and family life. Do not only say “how are you and how was your weekend?” just before discussing the job; it’s fake and it’s apparent! One morning from time to time, simply and sincerely ask how they are doing without getting on with the job.
33  Be Accessible
33. Be Accessible
Everyone has their own personality. Some must draw from all their resources to come and talk to you about things that bothers them. Pay attention to what they will tell you and try not to respond to impulsively. Tell them that you have to think about it but that you will explore the solutions. Do not say yes, do not say no right away. Think about it but above all, come back quickly to your decision.

Apply the open-door policy. Be easily approachable.

34  Create a Tradition
34. Create a Tradition
Traditions are a very effective way to increase team spirit amongst colleagues and increase their loyalty to the company.

Be noteworthy…within budget. Involve your colleagues to establish a tradition. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • Give a plant to each new hire
  • Celebrate every promotion on a terrace and offer appetizers
  • Introduce new ones by suggesting them to bake a dessert for the team
  • Make an annual party with fun activities. Call it your Pow-wow. 1. Rent Sumo Suit the first year 2. Play bubble soccer the next year 3. Following years, attend a Laser Quest game session and/or enjoy Sake Bombs at a Japanese restaurant!
35  Make a Monthly Meeting (i.e. Town Halls)
35. Make a Monthly Meeting (i.e. Town Halls)
These meetings are unique opportunities to develop a sense of belonging to the company. Employees are encouraged to ask questions about the company’s strategies and results. Managers and directors can talk freely about the challenges, successes and action plans of the company so that employees connect with the mission of the organization and build a relationship of trust with you as a leader.

Here are some ideas for your meetings:

  • Review past and future goals
  • Invite managers from different departments for a Q & A session
  • Share presentations that your team would not otherwise see
  • Encourage employees to give presentations to colleagues
  • Generate ideas on high-level initiatives
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