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We feel that we can act in the best interests of our workers. After all, keeping them productive and motivated is our duty, right? But this is where we can get things wrong- incredibly wrong! Because we believe our vision to be for the greater good, this can overshadow leadership technique. When it comes to our employees, while we need to keep them motivated, it’s not through the traditional channels, it’s not about motivational speeches and getting them to stand on their desks, beating their chests and growling! Instead, the answer to keeping your employees motivated and productive stems from something for simpler, you’ve got to give them what they want. And while the answer is easy, getting there isn’t. With this in mind, what does the modern employee actually want?
We all want to be healthy and happy in life, but it’s amazing how many workplaces don’t cater for this at all. It’s not difficult, especially if you take inspiration from the various employee wellness programs. It’s a very simple equation, if you keep them healthy, they won’t call in sick, and therefore the business keeps ticking over. If you see an increase in sickness, it might not necessarily be down to the physical aspects of health, but the mental ones as well. Focusing on well-being is something many businesses do now, as anxiety and depression are commonplace, especially when work is the reason for it in many cases.
Every employee demands flexibility, not just for them to do whatever they want when they want, but it’s going to make them loyal to you. We’ve all heard horror stories of people that aren’t able to get time off for a medical appointment, or they’ve called in sick one too many times, and this automatically resulted in their dismissal. While it’s determined on a case by case basis, from a general perspective, you need to provide some form of flexibility, because life isn’t rigid. People are going to be late sometimes for reasons beyond their control. And while you don’t want the bottom line impacted, finding suitable alternatives can help your employees as well as yourself. Remote working is one of those things that has increased a lot over the last few years, and you find there are many employees setting up a work from home office so they can telecommute one day a week or maybe more, depending on the circumstances. From the perspective of any employee, this is the very definition of flexibility. There are some businesses that don’t mind how the work gets done, just as long as it is done in good time. This attitude to flexibility can result in improved productivity, rather than your employees feeling that they are working with a metaphorical gun to their head, and as a result, could make silly mistakes all too often.
It’s a difficult balance because you want your employees to complete the work, but you know you’ve only got a certain amount of money to spend. When you’re a business that’s employing skeleton staff, or maybe you’re a small business, providing the top perks may not be on your radar right now. This will need to be addressed. Because your business is in a precarious position in the financial sense, this doesn’t mean you can’t give your employees something to keep them motivated. While a Christmas bonus isn’t always feasible, some token of your appreciation will go a long way.
And to appreciate their efforts, you’ve got acknowledge them. If an employee has spearheaded a new process, or there’s been a candidate that stood out by far recently, it’s a small gesture to acknowledge that they are doing a great job and are benefiting the company for it. This is where you, as the boss, can employ a personal touch. If you operate with a very hands-off approach, employees can feel that they’re doing a lot for little in return. But if you acknowledge their efforts, they will know that it’s not going unnoticed, but it’s a way for you to improve the working environment. Company culture can take a long time to gestate, and if you’re after a positive environment, this has to come from you. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, you can say “thank you” in the form of an email. This will highlight to the person that you’ve taken the time and effort to acknowledge their work. Automatically, morale can improve exponentially. People want to be recognised for what they’ve done, and not necessarily in a “wow, aren’t I great?” sort of way. It’s a small gesture, but it yields a big impact.
We’re all different, some people can bound out of bed and whistle all the way to the office. Whereas others need real reasons to get up and go to work. Everybody needs a purpose in life, and if you can help your employees to come to work with purpose, this will naturally filter through into their working practices. While it’s an old saying, happy workers are productive workers. But it’s not enough to ensure that they are happy, we’ve got to challenge them, mould them into candidates that can progress throughout the business and make them realise that what they are doing has great purpose. But even if they are doing something the benefits the business, this doesn’t necessarily benefit them. While many people hate their job, they love the people. This is one way to combat any sense of malaise in an individual worker. The longer somebody stays in one job role, the more bored they get. Offsetting this at the hiring stage can help so you can find people that are looking to go the distance, but people change. And while there is a lot more focus on the holistic working environment nowadays, where it’s not just about the antiquated business structure: workers and boss. If you have already got a working environment that is like this it can be difficult to backpedal from. It’s a very faceless business setup, and it hardly a surprise if you find employees complacent and underperforming.
We can mistakenly believe that we know what our employees want. Of course, this isn’t true in the slightest, but if we can go the extra mile and reach out to our employees to get a real impression from the ground floor what they need, we can implement it in some small way. Some cynical business managers like to believe this is catering to their every whim, and will only result in them upping the ante. But if the results speak for themselves, and productivity is at an all-time high, the bottom line has been greatly improved, and you’ve got a culture that’s nurturing and positive, aren’t you onto a winner?! At the very core of this is one thing, the happiness of your employees. Generally speaking, they will work better if they are happier. And while we can throw perks at them and give them raises, if this isn’t getting to the root of why each individual worker isn’t doing their best, we have got to dig deeper. Health and wellness, flexibility, providing them with a purpose, and acknowledging that they are doing a good job are all individual strands that need addressing. While we think our employees need certain components to be functioning workers, if we really want them to do a good job, we’ve got to forget about the need and focus on what they want.