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Employees and their attitudes and dedication towards your business are a key factor in the success of any organisation. As the business owner, you are naturally excited about your vision for the business and making it a success. But you should not assume that your employees will automatically feel the same way. After all, employees have their individual missions that may not necessarily be about helping you achieve your vision. In 2015, a Society for Human Resource Management survey on employee job satisfaction found that only 69 per cent felt they were consistently putting all their effort into their work.

You may hire stellar employees, but you have to keep them motivated and optimise their productivity. By motivation, we do not just mean paying them well. While monetary benefits are amazing, a 2014 study found that money did not top the list of motivating factors for employees. Instead, employees listed factors such as peer motivation, and feeling encouraged and recognised, and making a difference as the top motivators. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found than 69 per cent of employees say that they would work harder and stick around longer if their bosses gave them more recognition for their work.

As a business owner, you need to be more than just a boss to keep your employees motivated. You need to become a leader. But if you don’t have the experience, this can be easier said than done. To get you started, here are some key tactics to keep your employees motivated.

1. Have a clear vision

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To lead your steam to success, the first thing you need to establish is a clear vision for your business. This vision should be clearly articulated to every member of the team. When employees can relate with the vision, they have a better understanding of how their role is making a difference in society.  You will also achieve better results with employees who feel more connected to the company.

Your vision should be about more than just making money. Morale and motivation in the workplace come from having a meaningful and worthwhile goal, a reasonable plan to achieve the goal, and measurable steps towards achieving the goal. Create clear and realistic goals and come up with ways to regularly measure progress. For example, you can set a goal for the sales department to get a specific number of new clients by the end of the month. Once they achieve the goal, reward them to keep them motivated.

2. Ensure they have healthy work-life balance

Riding your employees hard to meet tight deadlines might temporarily boost productivity. But in the long run, it can diminish employee morale. Your employees are human beings with families, social lives, and other interests outside of work.

To achieve maximum productivity at work, you also have to ensure that they have adequate time to satisfy their basic human needs. Overworking them will not only lead to reduced work quality, it might also lead to high employee turnover and a tarnished business reputation.

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For your employees to feel motivated an appreciated, develop a system which recognises their need for work-life balance. For example, you can set realistic time limits, introduce flexible working hours, allow time for leave and so on. 

3. Focus on individuals

Recognise that each department in your company is made up of individuals, each with their own skills, experience, expectations, and goals. Every individual needs to feel heard and appreciated for their contribution to the team. Make time to have one-on-one with each employee and learn what makes them tick.

Which tasks do they enjoy or dislike? What would they like to achieve through working for your business? In what way can you help them in their personal growth? Do they have any ideas they would like to share with you? Listen carefully to what they have to say and give them personalised feedback, praise, and encouragement. Most importantly, do not use what employees have told you in confidence against them or to pit them against each other.

4.Praise and reward

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Do you have “Employee of the Month” or other such recognitions in your business? If not, it is something you should consider. People want to know when they have done a good job. The positive assessment from a superior can boost their morale and spur productivity. When they know that their contribution is recognised and appropriately rewarded, they will want to continue their success forward to their next project.

But this does not mean that you should praise employees even when they have failed to meet expectation. This does not help them or the business in any way. When an employee does not meet expectations, you can respectfully correct them and encourage them to do better on their next project.

Additionally, you should not play favourites with your employees. If you have one employee receiving more than their fair share of credit or remuneration, this devalues everyone else’s efforts and kills morale. If there are disputes among your employees, adjudicate as impartially as possible.

5. Encourage autonomy

When you are hiring your employees, go for people who are competent enough to be trusted to perform their tasks with minimal supervision. Everyone likes the feeling of being in charge. Learn to be comfortable with delegating tasks and only checking progress every now and then. This gives your employees a sense of autonomy, which motivates them. Simply treating your employees as competent, sensible and trustworthy individuals can have a powerful morale-boosting effect. In addition to this, you can create room for healthy competition among your employees. Friendly competition is a great way to boost motivation and productivity.  

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