Knowing how to motivate employees is a key element in effective employee retention. Given the steep costs involved in turnover, recruitment, and hiring, it's in business owners’ best interest to hire wisely and then work to maintain a high level of motivation among their workforce.
Paychex HR professionals offer the following considerations when figuring out how to motivate and retain employees:
1. Compensation counts.
Paychex area manager Matt Keup reminds employers that compensation is a key motivational factor among employees.
"Design compensation strategies that have a variable component based on incentives and performance bonuses," he suggests. "Incentive compensation costs should be structured in a manner in which achievement of targets results in both a win for the business and a win for the employee. A good area to start is in terms of increased revenue or business (sales) or retention and expansion of existing revenue sources (operations/production)."
At the same time, he adds, "incentives shouldn't include multipliers or increases that outstrip the benefit of the result of success – meaning, don't pay so much that you find yourself paying incentive compensation that costs the company more than it gains by the success of its actions or results."
2. Demonstrate your commitment.
Employees are generally more motivated when they feel a strong sense of support from their employer and know where the business is heading. In these circumstances, it’s important to place value in your employees and believe that they will help your business move forward and achieve its goals.
Paychex HR generalist Mary Anne T. Sendra echoes these sentiments. "When I worked for a small high-tech company, there was zero motivation from employees before I joined the team as HR director," she notes. "I made it the managers' responsibility to work with me and brainstorm ways to motivate them." Whether it was an occasional team lunch or after-work event, Sendra notes that such gestures helped boost productivity and made the office environment more positive.
3. Solicit employee feedback and act on their ideas.
"Some small businesses are startups or family businesses that expand to include non-family employees," notes Keup. "Perceptions of favoritism and/or lack of consideration for ideas can occur in these environments. By taking time to listen, either in person or via surveys or feedback sessions, you can demonstrate that employee opinions and ideas do matter and can be worth implementing. Employees feel motivated when they believe they're more a part of what the company is doing, rather than feeling like they get paid to do just what's in their job description."
4. Offer praise for specific achievements.
Employees may not always respond favorably when you say in passing, "Great job!" In such cases, they may be confused about what work you were referring to in that compliment. Instead, you may want to specify what they've done well so they can continue to improve on that aspect.
5. Celebrate individual and team achievements.
Let employees know how their individual and team efforts contribute to the growth of the company. The more they understand how meaningful their jobs are, the more motivated they'll likely feel to keep up the good work. Take time to formally celebrate the completion of a major project or initiative. Commend employees on their job milestones. Highlight promotions of individuals who have come up through the ranks. All of these activities reinforce the sense that "we're all in this together."
Your employees are one of the most important assets in your business. Devoting time and energy to motivate them can enrich that asset and enhance opportunities for future growth.