It is no secret that engaged and motivated employees are more productive, yet many businesses fail to keep their staff happy and positive.
Not only do engaged employees learn, grow, and display strong leadership skills, but they also provide a heightened return on investment and significantly decrease a firm’s turnover rate. Despite this, formulating a team that approaches work with both vigour and passion is difficult to execute.
A first-of-its-kind study by Robert Half and Happiness Works found the six key drivers of employee happiness in the report, The secrets of the happiest companies and employees. Research of UK employees found that the most important driver of employee happiness is pride in their organisation, followed closely by fairness and respect and feeling appreciated.
Improving staff motivation and overall employee happiness starts at the recruitment stage and finding candidates with the right fit. By recruiting the right people, a company can have a much easier time motivating, retaining and engaging employees, and so some specific traits should be identified.
- Only bring in the best
When hiring, look for candidates who are genuinely excited and passionate about their work and remain driven. Staff with a strong work ethic thrive in competitive environments and see hurdles as challenges to overcome, rather than roadblocks. Integrity is also important, as a solid reputation needs to complement motivation, while resiliency should never be discounted, as the ability to recover from mistakes is a rare commodity. Finally, positive energy is a must, and so only employees who thrive on action and relish change should be targeted.
With new staff onboard and a sound workforce in operation, leadership ability should constantly be assessed. The true measure of leadership is influence, as managers who display strong leadership skills are more likely to see employees respond and produce in a heightened manner. On the other hand, a lack of direction from senior team members can have a significant detrimental impact on employee motivation and work engagement.
- Lead by example
Recent figures from SurveyLab show that when people trust senior management, 95 per cent are committed to delivering quality work. The problem is that just 47 per cent of employees believe senior managers are doing a competent job and trust their judgement.
In order to motivate and engage employees, leaders need to exhibit inspirational traits, with the first being trustworthiness. Leaders who are consistent in their word and go out of their way to maintain trust with staff will be respected, while those who relentlessly upgrade their team and make each and every employee see their vision for the organisation will see their enthusiasm passed on. Finally, managers who exude positive energy and instil a "can-do" attitude will find that it naturally motivates and engages the employees.
While motivation can be difficult to create, it is even harder to maintain, and so bosses need to constantly top it up. Organisations are defined by their continuous productivity improvements, widespread innovation and ability to adapt to the changing business environment, and this should be reflected in managers' behaviour and actions.
- Assess and evaluate
You should always aim to keep your word, including promises about pay, working conditions and job security. Additionally, using fear as a factor is rarely effective, as making employees scared about losing their jobs will likely result in them having less energy and lower morale - and even looking elsewhere for work.
Tapping into workers' creativity can be a strong and pervasive driver of productivity, so regularly giving them projects that allow them to use their creativity is advisable. Challenging them to extend and exercise their capabilities could tap into as-yet unknown creativity streams.
Ultimately, leading by example is the best way to instil motivation in employees and keep them engaged. Imposing too many rules and formal processes can impede the ability to motivate staff, and so a fine balance has to be struck between informality and stressing the importance of getting the job done.
If this approach is successful, businesses will benefit from an engaged, positive workforce, and productivity - as well as profits - will subsequently rise.