Summer is here and with the world opening up again, employers may find it more difficult to keep employees motivated at work. In a survey of 600 American workers, 45 percent reported being more distracted over the summer, and studies find that attendance drops by 20 percent. An Amex Trendex online poll found that 76 percent of respondents are planning to travel more than they did in 2021.
Competing with dream destinations, piña coladas on the beach, putting on the greens, and water parks with the family can be tough, so what can entrepreneurs do to keep their employees motivated? Ensure that the jobs your employees are performing have these five characteristics.
1. Task Autonomy
Provide employees with flexibility and independence to do their job. This helps provide a sense of ownership, which can lead to higher quality work. Employees who have supervisors who encourage them to take initiative tend to report higher levels of job satisfaction and psychological well-being, relative to employees who work with employers with a controlling style.
2. Task Significance
Help employees understand the importance of the work they're performing. Studies find that employees are motivated to do work that matters, and that has the potential to impact other people inside or outside of the company. A study by Adam Grant found that fundraisers who were responsible for securing scholarship donations from university alumni were more motivated (and actually secured more pledges and donations) when they met scholarship recipients and understood the direct impact of their work.
3. Task Identity
Help employees understand how the work they're doing contributes to a larger whole. Just as some people are motivated to complete a puzzle when they're able to see the artwork (end goal) they're working toward, employees may derive greater satisfaction from their work when they understand how it fits into the bigger picture.
4. Task Variety
Provide employees with tasks that allow them to use a variety of skills. Such tasks can not only help employees apply and strengthen their skills, but also keep them engaged (and avoid monotony). As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer noted, "The two enemies of human happiness [and I'd add, motivation] are pain and boredom."
5. Timely Feedback
Provide employees with frequent feedback (not necessarily daily, but certainly more often than the annual performance evaluation). This will help them know how they're doing and gain an understanding of the areas that need improvement, as well as the areas in which they're doing well. This type of balanced feedback can increase employees' motivation as well as their self-efficacy.
The above characteristics are derived from the Job Characteristics Model designed by Hackman and Oldham in 1976. Nearly half a century later, companies continue to effectively use this model to keep employees engaged and productive even during the summer months.
Small businesses, particularly those with limited budgets, have found that motivating employees does not have to cost more money. When employees receive compensation that they believe is commensurate with their effort, adding intrinsic motivators -- providing feedback, task variety, autonomy, and conveying to employees that you appreciate their effort and that their work matters -- can help increase productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.