When staff do just the bare minimum at work, binge on social media and trade blame, think again

When staff do just the bare minimum at work, binge on social media and trade blame, think again


It is one thing to hire an outstanding workforce, but quite another for the work to make them stick around for the long haul. A motivated workforce is a holy grail that every company strives to achieve but only a few get to experience the benefits today.

In Kenya today, most business owners or managers try to motivate their employees with the power of their vision, the passion of their delivery, and the compelling logic of their reasoning. Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial fire that burns inside a business owner may not be shared by the employees.

Motivation can be Intrinsic – meaning that the employee is motivated from within. They have the desire to perform well at the organisation because the results are in accordance with their belief system. Such employees show qualities like acceptance, curiosity, honour and the desire to achieve success, among others.

Motivation can also be extrinsic – meaning that the employee is stimulated by external factors such as rewards and recognition. Extrinsic rewards can sometimes promote the willingness in a person to perform and complete their tasks or even learn new skills set.

While we look at the current workforce, a majority of the global labour pool comprises the millennials – persons born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s.

The incoming ones are the Generation Z; persons born from the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2010s. These two sets of employees are not easily persuaded by what the company is selling.

They are known to question assumptions and long-held beliefs that baby boomers (persons born from 1946 to 1964) accepted at face value.

For these new generations, benefits such as a company car, travel allowance or an expense account are less likely to sway them. They get excited at a sense of purpose.

So, what is employee motivation? It is the level of commitment, drive, energy and innovation that an organisation’s workers demonstrate at work.

When employees lack motivation, the company will experience lower levels of output, decreased productivity and the company may not achieve its set goals. Ultimately, employee motivation is all about how engaged an employee feels in relation to the organization’s goals and how empowered they feel.

A business owner or a manager overseeing a department may wonder why employee motivation is important. After all, they are getting a decent salary, plus possibly additional incentives.

Why is employee motivation important?

Imagine an employee who comes to work every day demotivated. They are most likely going to spend most of their time on their cell phone, either working at a slow pace or avoiding doing their work assignments.

This has a ripple effect on other employees, possibly holding back the entire workforce from producing work to the highest standard or meeting important targets, excellent customer service, not forgetting, wasting company resources.

Motivated employees take initiative, are eager to take up additional responsibilities, are innovative and go-getters. They ensure:

 There is a positive atmosphere within the organisation

Co-workers are happy and feel safe at work

They make sure clients are happy

They always achieve better results than their counterparts

 The moment employee motivation drops, revenue and output could soon follow.

Wondering How to Motivate Your Employees?

 Here are 10 motivational techniques that you could adopt:

  1. Lead with vision

A visionary leader helps employees to know that their efforts are driving towards something important.

Employees need to know their destination and more importantly the path that will take them there. So ensure that the company’s vision is clear.

  • Set smaller and clear weekly targets

As a business owner you may have your big ambitions for your company, which are okay to have but setting up smaller goals along the way will keep people in it.

All goals should add to the overall target, however, breaking these goals into more attainable portions can feel less overwhelming.

If employees are frequently hitting targets, the feeling of satisfaction grows and will act as a great motivator to continue on to the next set of goals.

  • Give your employees purpose

By giving employees purpose, they understand the vision better and are able to accomplish more strongly.

As a manager, you need to communicate the ‘why’ of each task. Your employees will know what needs to be done, but you need to explain further.

Making sure everyone understands the ‘why’, which is the company’s overall mission, will enable employees to perform to expectations.

If every staff knows how their individual actions can personally add value to the overall goal of the company, it brings much-needed intrinsic motivation to even the simplest task.

In addition, by understanding their purpose and the purpose of the business, an employee is better able to understand how they fit into the big picture.

  • Recognise and reward great work

Employees need to know that their managers appreciate their hard work. Giving well-deserved recognition not only increases self-esteem but also enthusiasm and team morale. Creating a recognition ritual in the office is important and it doesn’t always have to be monetary.

For instance, during the start of weekly or monthly office meetings, departmental heads or executives could start by recognising a member of their team who has done exemplary well, by going above and beyond for the company or a client.

As a manager or business owner, you can support and motivate your employees by offering wellbeing schemes, team-building exercises, job rotation opportunities, training opportunities, or even a simple gesture, such as giving them a day off.

Positive feedback loop motivates team members, and it holds management accountable for staff recognition. To encourage your employees to go the extra mile, the management needs to make their effort worth it with a gift or thoughtful act.

  • Give your team autonomy

When employees feel they don’t have control of their time and energy, motivation levels deteriorate.

It is important for the management to allow some form of freedom in workplaces like flexible working hours or unlimited time off, it shows trust from leaders to employees.

As a manager, micromanagement is the worst thing you can do. If you have hired people with certain skills set, it is important to allow them to do their job. Be a facilitator, not a dictator.

Letting your employees know and feel that you trust and depend on them, will allow them to fill those shoes quickly. A vote of confidence goes a long way.

Let them know you trust them to do the best job possible and they will rarely disappoint you.

All employees are different from each other so it is important to offer some form of flexibility within reason and your employees will be happy and motivated.

  • Create a welcoming workplace environment

Workplaces that have created a friendly and welcoming culture, with places of rest and play, encourage employees to look forward to coming to work. A gloomy space creates an environment where employees just desperately look forward to going home.  Creating a good atmosphere in the office will motivate your employees.

  • Extend Notable Benefits

As a business owner, striving to offer your employees benefits and perks that aim to make your people’s lives better both in and outside of work, helps to boost the mood and sense of loyalty to the company.

It is important to ensure that the benefits suit your employees’ unique needs. For instance, in Kenya, some companies offer childcare benefits for their employees such as on-site nurseries for younger children, reduced working hours’ options for mothers, medical insurance that includes children as well as an onsite doctor.

While rewards as an incentive is a great motivator, it is crucial for business owners to take a well-rounded approach to wellbeing.

Addressing your teams’ mental, emotional, and physical health is a great way of keeping them healthy, happy, and at the top of their game.

  • Advocate for teamwork

Encouraging collaboration between teams in the organisation allows ideas to be developed further.

There is power in numbers and an employee experiencing a lack of motivation but is in a team would feel boosted by those around them. Different employees exhibit different skill sets and will, in turn, create more innovative results.

  • Let the employees lead

Motivating employees is about making them know that they are seen and showing them that they make a difference and are valued.

For instance, in an office meeting, allow different team members to lead the conversation and the topics to be discussed.  Employees are then not only able to share their opinions and be heard this way, but they are motivated to make their words and ideas happen afterwards.

  1. Career-pathing

As human beings, we all want to know that we are going somewhere and focus on that next step. No one wants to be stagnant for long. As a business owner, it is important to ask employees what they want from their career, and come up with steps needed to be taken in order for them to get there.

In order for employees to create the drive to reach the next stage and feel that they have a long and productive journey ahead within the company, it is important for managers to have growth conversations with team members and design a career path.

Having a career growth plan with clearly mentioned roles and responsibilities is crucial to employees.  Therefore, make sure that you sit down with every employee and come up with a career plan that is transparent and communicated clearly.

In conclusion, as a manager or business owner, showing that you care, listening and acting upon the things that really matter to employees, will ultimately maintain motivation.

Remember that happy employees result in happy customers, in tur, business growth.

  • A Tell report / By Jackie Wahome, a customer care expert
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