You see it almost everywhere you go: Cashiers rolling their eyes at customers, or coworkers gathered in the grocery store aisle or break room gossiping and complaining about their bosses.
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This is a worldwide phenomenon. According to a Gallup poll, only 13 percent of the world's employees are engaged at work.
The other 87 percent (!) are watching the clocks and waiting to collect their paychecks – or to find a place better to waste time.
As any manager knows, it's nearly impossible to create a strong company culture – or a successful company – with a group of unmotivated employees.
In light of this motivation crisis, we have formulated six easy ways to motivate employees and keep them engaged at work:
1. Empower Them
Let employees make decisions. Establish a framework around the values that your company stands for and let employees operate within that framework. Nothing is more demotivating than being told you weren't authorized to do something outside of your official job description.
Trust your employees to work out the how after you give them the what and why.
2. Thank Them Privately and Publicly When They Do Good Work
This is why the "employee of the month" award is so popular. Even if you thought it was B.S., you were still a little bit excited if you got this at your summer job in high school. Admit it. It makes workers feel good and can be a useful carrot for some types of employees.
Saying "thank you" in a one-on-one or small setting is great, but if you announce to the whole company that profits are up and that Jason was a big part of that, well, Jason will be beaming and excited to come to work tomorrow.
Related: Share your wins and celebrate them! There's nothing worse than when a company hits its target and the CEO mutters something like, "Great, now we have a bigger goal for next year." Jeez, get a grip!
3. Give Perspective on Where Your Employees' Work Fits Into the Larger Company Picture
This one is big. Employees find their work meaningful when they know how it serves the greater whole.
If you are speaking with a fulfillment manager, let them in on the fact that you are hoping to ship 40 percent more packages this upcoming winter due to an increased marketing push around Black Friday. Tell the manager that, if they have any suggestions about how to accomplish the goal, they should let you know.
When employees understand their role as part of the company's overall strategy, they feel more enabled to do their jobs well and they are more likely to go above and beyond on a regular basis.
4. Be Mature and Stop Parenting Your Workers
This takes a lot of trust, but it can pay off in big ways. Treat your employees like you would want to be treated. If an employee comes in 15 minutes late one day when there are no meetings or events scheduled, don't give them grief about it.
"Running a tight ship" is one thing, but being a pain in the neck is another. Of course, if lateness becomes a regular occurrence, a conversation may need to take place.
5. Provide Ongoing Training and Resources
You should be there to support the growth of your people in any way you can, including via formal training.
If a new manager is struggling, don't chide or threaten them. Research solutions and do what you can to provide extensive management training. Some people just need a few months' time to get on their feet in a new role, but others can benefit from workshops and seminars.
Even if it means sending an employee to a $5,000 offsite event, it will still save the company money when compared to the expense of hiring a replacement. Think about the big picture.
Side note: This is a great way to motivate employees and will also build loyalty from your direct reports and their peers. This sort of support doesn't go unnoticed by the rank and file.
6. Challenge Your Employees
Don't turn them into task rabbits.
If you've ever been a teacher, you know that one of the greatest thrills is seeing a pupil finally master a new concept they've been struggling to understand. It's the same with the workplace. Employees gain a huge degree of self-respect and motivation when they accomplish goals they have been working hard to achieve.
Conversely, if employees are merely punching a clock and doing the same repetitive tasks day in and day out, they will quickly grow bored and disillusioned with the job – even if the snacks are great and there's free beer on tap. It is important to give employees a chance to progress not only in the company ranks, but also in their careers and skill sets.
Conclusion: Think of Yourself as a Leader, Not Just a Boss
It's not exactly rocket science, but there are lots of different ways to motivate employees without spending much time or money. This is just a framework for the kinds of things you should be thinking about.
Overall, to change employees' mindsets, you must first change your own. Instead of thinking short term, you must think of yourself as a developer of talent in the long run. Keep your focus on that, and you will build a culture of employee excellence.
Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1.