Being an employer is undoubtedly a tough thing to do, for plenty of reasons that have more to do with employees than actually running a business.
Many businesses choose to invest in some brand new software that promises to keep things in order and boost their KPIs and are willing to spend a hefty amount of their marketing budget on improving their marketing metrics and overall performance.
However, some employers fail to see that they can improve their email open rates and CTRs, and their customers' satisfaction may be off the roof, but the most important thing is to keep employee engagement levels high. And this doesn't necessarily mean that employers need to provide more incentives.
Sometimes, it's all about staying well away from the following employee engagement strategies.
1. Wrong Incentives Are Worse Than No Incentives
Incentivizing an employee's effort is not something new. In fact, it's one of the oldest tricks in the book, one that is very beneficial at that.
The answer does not lie in giving small, meaningless incentives. Instead of that, if your budget doesn't allow a proper productivity bonus, you could always have an in-depth discussion with your best employees and see if they have any effective feedback on improving the way they do their work.
Suggestions from your employees show that you do value them and can improve your team's overall performance.
Another great idea would be to give your employees some honest feedback and let them know exactly what they're doing right.
Wrong incentives can lead to a loss of trust towards the employer and even contribute to some not-so-beautiful employee turnover statistics.
Just make sure to understand the purpose your incentive is serving and understand what you can give, both budget-wise and employee-wise. For example, an older employee won't love a brand new tablet as much as two tickets to a beautiful location.
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2. Steer Clear Of Intimidation
Employers threatening employees that they'll cut off part of their benefits, salary, or even threatening to fire are not unheard of.
More often than not, these types of intimidation tactics come from anxious supervisors, whose productivity is lacking due to them not being well-rested or feeling anxious.
However, threatening an employee's job can cause extreme anxiety and cause the employee to feel overall detached from the situation and the desire to become better and perform well at their job.
Intimidation tactics are not "tough love.” Moreover, all employees know that job hunting is challenging without the added factor that all employees are easily replaceable - in theory, at least.
Trying to get a positive result out of using negativity to motivate won't do you any favors. On the contrary, it's a surefire way to garner high employee turnover and get people less than interested in trying to be their best selves every day.
Remember, nobody loves a tyrant, and nobody will do an excellent job for someone that frequently puts them down. Keeping your employees' morale high is the best thing you can do.
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3. Don’t Create Teams Out of Alone Players
Creating teams and having people work together is useful, and nobody can deny it. It can boost morale, help employees identify and solve problems faster, and so on.
However, some people just don't love the idea of collaborating with anyone and love working by themselves. Some other people love offline communication rather than online communication tools, regardless of how beneficial they are.
Make sure to be more resilient when it comes to the way your employees handle their work. For better or worse, they're individuals, and each works and acts differently. Allow them to bend the rules to match them, not the other way around.
If someone is a lone wolf that prefers to ask questions directly, it's best if you leave them be.
At the end of the day, freedom of expression and the employer's implied trust in the way every individual decides to do their job is what makes all the difference.
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4. Having the Wrong Idea About Motivation Altogether
What does motivation mean? As people, we have the impression that a motivated person is a happy person. However, this is not always true.
The reason behind this is the fact that, while a happy and easygoing environment is what most people - employers and employees alike - aim for, motivation and happiness are not the same.
Happy coworkers will be better coworkers, but will happiness make them more productive and engaged? Sometimes the answer to that is no.
So, try to motivate your employees and keep them on their toes, proactive and engaged instead of just happy.
And of course, always check your teams' performance to determine whether or not this is true for your company, as it differs from one crowd to the next.
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5. Don't Be Unfair
Not everyone can perform the same way, and not all team members or employees love their job equally. In a workplace, disagreements and power shifts are bound to happen, expected even.
As an employer, don't show that you place more attention on those that perform better. Favoritism never helped anyone, not to mention that the best-performing employees probably don't need your attention and guidance after all.
Make sure to keep an eye on those that don't perform as well as others. Maybe they don't understand the process, or perhaps they need a little more time to grasp the nature of their position. Perhaps there is some conflict or the will to not step on anyone's toes.
As an employer, your job is to solve conflicts - if any - and give some honest feedback to your employee, provided they need it to perform better.
All in all, an employer who cares is an employer who motivates, and this is what you need to aim for.
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As an employer, manager, or team leader, it is essential to remember that your employees are your operation's heart and soul.
Don't fall into the trap of giving the wrong incentives and zero feedback. Instead, listen to your employees and try to create procedures around their needs.