Do you struggle with motivating your employees? Many business owners do. They find themselves thinking on a particularly frustrating day, “The business would grow and prosper if only my employees would do what I want them to do.” Instead, you find them chatting in the halls, taking long lunches, and acting busy while not really accomplishing anything. That’s if you find them at all. Some unmotivated employees don’t even bother coming into the office anymore.

How do you keep employees motivated and moving forward?

Here’s How Some Do It

Some entrepreneurs try solving this problem by offering incentive plans that pay people for meeting specific goals. This happens a lot in sales environments. The incentive drives additional sales for a while, but this growth isn’t sustainable. Eventually, the fun wears off, or the incentive ends. That’s when people return to their previous lackadaisical performance levels. A pay-for-performance incentive plan usually elicits temporary results because people burn out or lose interest.

Other business owners try to motivate through fear. They rant, rave, and threaten those who aren’t performing up to snuff. They revamp the compensation plan and have meetings with employees who aren’t performing up to standards. The thought process in this situation is that no one wants to get fired. Therefore, punishment meted out will change the current behavior. All this does is drive a wedge between management and employees. And employees will soon start looking elsewhere for work.

You Can Fix This

Most business owners don’t realize it, but they may be part of the problem. They may have unintentionally created a demotivating environment for their workers. This can easily happen when a company scales up too quickly. The owner’s attention is usually on sales, revenue, and expense management, and there may not be anyone else to monitor office morale.

If any of this sounds familiar, take heart. You may have more control over this situation than you think. Motivation can’t be forced on someone, nor can you train it into them. But you can remove the things that demotivate employees. 

Removing Workplace Demotivators

Three of the biggest workplace demotivators are poor or absentee supervision, improper or unequal application of business policies, and below-market pay.

Poor or absentee supervision: When employees are left to work in a company where the owner is absent, and managers don’t have the skills they need to be good at what they do, employee motivation suffers. Employees want to feel like part of a team, and a team isn’t a team if upper-level management is MIA or holds themselves separate from the rest.

Unequal application of policies: Nothing breaks down motivation faster than unfair treatment. If you expect employees to perform their jobs willingly and gladly, they must be treated fairly across the board. That means company policies apply to everyone. If expense reports are due every Tuesday, that means everyone turns them in on Tuesday. 

An employee handbook is an excellent tool for capturing and recording all business and HR policies. This way, everyone knows what’s expected, what to do, and what the ramifications are for not complying. If you don’t already have an employee handbook, put one together and get it in employees’ hands immediately.

Below-market pay: Entrepreneurs often focus on expenses because they’re operating with a limited budget at the outset. When they get to the point where they need to hire another person, they look for someone with the skills they need at a price they can afford. If they can bring someone in at $40,000 a year when other people in the company doing similar work make $60,000, they think they’re getting a bargain. 

The reality, though, is that they’ll soon be looking to hire again. That “bargain” employee will find out they’re making less than their peers. And then they’ll either check out mentally, producing substandard results, or they’ll leave.

Here’s What Motivates People

If you struggle with employee motivation, try getting out of your own way. Remove the demotivators in your workplace. Then treat people the way you’d want to be treated.

When you start recognizing people for doing a good job, you’ll start seeing employees who are passionate about what they do.

Set clear, achievable goals, and then celebrate when they’re met.

Promote employees to higher levels of responsibility. This makes them feel like they’re an appreciated part of the team.

It’s Up To You

You can fix poor employee motivation. It just takes a little effort. People want to like what they do for a living. They want to feel motivated, excited, and recognized for doing a good job. 

Business owners can create motivated employees if they really care to. All it takes is a little adherence to old-fashioned values like fairness, honesty, and caring. Take care of your people, and they’ll take care of you!

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