By Keith Coppersmith
Sometimes companies take the “we are a customer-centric business” approach so seriously that either they neglect their employees or they fail to grasp the role those employees play in their brands’ successes. Although it’s commendable when an organization does its absolute best to amaze and dazzle its audiences, the company should also remember that its teams, too, are part of that audience—as well as its most valuable brand ambassadors. Fortunately there are several time-tested methods that organizations can use to find and cultivate motivated, happy employees.
A kind word is a great start, but companies that expect results on a daily basis need to offer tangible rewards too. Rewards do more than show an organization’s appreciation for exceptional accomplishments; they also help a company express to its employees that it values their time and their work (and for that reason it’s critical to reward effort as well as results). Rewards can take many forms (such as an extra day off, tickets to a game or a play, or a dinner for two in a local restaurant)—and none has to cost a fortune. Even small tokens of gratitude can convey a great deal of positive meaning, and employees will working eagerly to earn them.
Refine the hiring process
Sometimes companies miss out on finding motivated employees because of a narrow approach to recruitment. By actively exploring new hiring practices and new talent pools, an organization increases its potential to connect with motivated candidates. For example, by enlisting the help of an employment agency that works with a particular population (e.g., veterans, people with disabilities, former convicts), a company might find great employees who would have been overlooked in a more “general” search. It’s amazing how many people can flourish—and feel more motivated—when given a chance to do so. And when an employer gives everyone equal chances and has an open-minded approach to hiring, its current teams also feel more motivated too.
Can a company’s employees easily take their questions or concerns to managers? How often does management hold meetings to share information with people at all levels of the company? (And how much information does it share with its employees at all?) People can’t feel like part of a culture or team if they are treated as expendable parts of a machine. A company that nurtures transparent communication from its very first contact with its employees improves its ability to motivate them. In addition to promoting regular face-to-face communication, video conferences, team-building activities, and other meetups, managers should ask employees for feedback (and give them feedback too), share and offer advice, and make sure that everyone is involved in the organization. These efforts are necessary to build strong relationships and should form the foundation of any modern-day business.
Integrate learning into the culture
Few people nowadays will settle for dead-end positions: if a company doesn’t offer learning opportunities, it will find its workers looking for other employment options soon enough. Whether its team members want to perfect their e-mail correspondence skills, become better negotiators, learn new languages, or develop some other abilities, a company build a reputation as a place that encourages curiosity. (And in addition to professional development, an organization should also promote learning for the sake of learning!) By encouraging and facilitating personal growth, a company can only increase its employees’ motivation and loyalty—and its own branding.
Finally, no matter how confident they are, all people want to be recognized for their accomplishments. A company that doesn’t recognize its employees for their contributions to the company’s growth is giving them a reason to look for jobs elsewhere. As mentioned above, rewards are a key part of this acknowledgement. But it’s also important to show gratitude by publicly praising exceptional work, cheering on those who need a confidence boost, and empowering employees to encourage one another as well. When employees support and praise each other regularly, they’ll build a close-knit team of people who believe strongly in the business and are motivated to work for its benefit.
Sometimes motivated employees can be found in the least likely of places or after an extensive search; sometimes they are already in plain sight at a company. By giving its employees opportunities to thrive and showing appreciation for their contributions, an organization can build a healthy company culture that motivates workers and promotes mutual growth.
This article originally appeared on the Omega HR Solutions Blog and was reprinted with permission.
Keith Coppersmith is business journalist based in an Adelaide, South Australia. He specializes in startup growth and business marketing.