Amelia Herring

Motivation: keeping workers without growth opportunities

Motivation: keeping workers without growth opportunities
Amelia Herring
Employee engagement means one thing: a happy team propelling your objectives forward while keeping them on their game.

Employee engagement is a tough subject to tackle for most companies. Even those that seem to have all the answers often falter because foosball tables and free food can only go so far in a person’s actual career. When employees have been with a company for a while, stagnant growth opportunities can cause motivated workers to begin looking elsewhere. If you’ve got some awesome team members you don’t want to lose, but you don’t necessarily have openings coming up on the ladder any time soon, here are a few ideas you can use to bolster motivation within your organization:

1. Enable Shadowing Sessions

Finance and accounting professionals work with numbers to solve problems with a specified outcome, while creatives often work within objective parameters that lead to more than one possible solution. The two ways of working are not mutually exclusive, and you may have an accountant who earned a graphic design minor in school that’d like to try his hand within your marketing department. Maybe one of your creative folks would love to work with numbers once in a while.

Set some time aside to enable your existing staff members to shadow people in other departments. Besides keeping them motivated and excited about the work you’re doing, you might discover a diamond in the ruff who truly would be more successful in a different department.

Shadow sessions also help deconstruct silos and create greater camaraderie within organizations. Your marketing folks may never interact with the people in finance, but if you have a person shadowing one of these departments, they can bring in a lot of insight that can help everyone do better. Department A and B might have completely different ways of working. By encouraging interaction, the two may share insights that help both run more efficiently. Employing a shadow system can engage employees who might otherwise feel stifled, while simultaneously learning about bottlenecks that are stopping your company from being the best it can be.

2. Offer work-from-home options

Loyal, hard-working, and honest employees want to be recognized for their accomplishments. You don’t have to have a huge budget to afford workers things that’ll make their lives happier; in fact, many benefits don’t cost anything at all.

Remote work options can be an invaluable benefit in today’s economy. Employees don’t have to sit in traffic and lose valuable hours of their days, plus they’ll appreciate the trust you’re giving them when you enable them to work from home.

If you’re not willing to go all-in on the work-from-home idea, consider these ideas:

  • Allow employees to work from home half a day after their first year. Increase this allowance over time.
  • Offer motivation to your team in the form of “work from home” days, but schedule meetings on that day to ensure everyone is abiding by the guidelines.
  • Enable work-from-home options when employees have scheduled things to do, such as having their kitchens redone. Their managers are aware of what’s going on, and the employees still feel empowered to get things done they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

3. Provide your employees with flex-time

Demotivated and disengaged employees may be coming to work during your company’s standard hours, but if they’re messing around on Facebook and watching YouTube videos, being restrictive about time is really a moot point. Flex-time requires quite a bit of trust in your employees, but if you’ve hired the right people, you won’t have anything to worry about.

Flex-time is a great way to show your employees you appreciate and trust them without dipping into your budget. Set core hours—say 10am to 3pm— when everyone in the company must be present and working. Beyond those hours, people can come in later or earlier to fit their needs. Kids have doctors’ appointments, people need to get their oil changed, pets get sick. All of these things can be incredibly difficult to tend to when people are tethered to their desks all day. The stress of trying to deal with these normal situations can also cause even the best employees to become unmotivated very quickly.

Trust and motivation go hand in hand.

4. Pull employees’ motivation out of them; don’t force it onto them

Employees—both motivated and unmotivated alike—usually have some idea of things they’d like to see or do that would improve their perceptions of their workplaces. If your culture is hard-set on keeping everything at status quo, you’re going to lose out on a lot of potential talent. Those who have been with you a long time will likely begin to look elsewhere sooner or later, too.

To avoid this pitfall, talk to your people. Take them to lunch for one-on-one or group outings every so often so you can have human conversations that don’t take place in your workplace walls. You’ll be surprised about the things you can learn about people if you give them ten minutes of face-time away from work. If someone’s performance has recently begun to slip, he or she may be dealing with a personal issue at home that wouldn’t ordinarily be talked about. This insight can help you navigate future conversations with empathy. Maybe someone feels they’d be a great fit for a position that just opened up. Listen to their points and guide them. It’s important to embrace your workers’ goals because as manager, it’s your job to provide employee motivation. Stifling your team is a good way to lose them.

Wonderlic was built on the idea of motivating workers and making employees happier at work while enabling employers to benefit from the positive ROI that comes from putting the right people into the right positions. If you’ve found creative ways to keep your team motivated, we’d love to hear them!

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