Since not all businesses can afford to hand out regular bonuses, here are 7 other ways to help employees stay motivated and productive:
1. Provide supportive leadership:
Leadership is one of the key factors in employee motivation. Supportive leaders work closely with employees - trust and a sympathetic ear are powerful incentives for keeping veterans focused and developing new talent. Good leaders act as role models, holding themselves to high standards of accountability that set an example for all. Supportive leadership means recognizing that a leader's expectations influence how employees see themselves: those you consider unlikely to succeed will probably fail. You can help to create the conditions for increased productivity just by starting from the assumption that your employees are skilled and dedicated.
2. Empower the individual:
Every employee needs to know that he or she is valued as an individual. No one wants to feel like a faceless, interchangeable pawn in some larger game, so make sure all the members of your workforce are given opportunities to express themselves. Encourage employees to display aspirational personal items. Whether it's collecting travel brochures for a dream getaway or trying paper cutouts of Mercedes wheels on a dream car, anticipating future rewards make work routines seem easier and improve worker morale.
3. Create a positive environment:
Since many working professionals spend the majority of their waking hours at the office, the work environment should be a place that puts employees at ease while encouraging productivity. An important step toward creating a happy and productive workspace is to encourage employees to share the information and knowledge, which for a supportive leader usually means more listening than talking. People should be allowed to admit their mistakes without fearing humiliation. Employees can also benefit from being given new and more challenging assignments that take them out of their comfort zones.
4. Encourage teamwork:
From the soccer field to the battlefield to the boardroom, nothing is better at keeping an individual focused and responsive than belonging a team. Through teamwork, employees learn to trust each other and to look beyond themselves. And healthy competition in a team setting, both in the office and after hours, can increase creativity as well as productivity.
5. Recognize & reward:
Remember that the carrot, not the stick, is most likely to get the best out of your workforce. My own startup Outro has a built-in rewards program for our clients to send gift cards to people when they give a referral or make a warm introduction. It doesn't take much--an employee of the month plaque, a coupon for a Starbucks latte--to create real motivation, especially when recognition takes place in front of the group. Recognition and reward on a regular basis remind employees that they are appreciated, and help them to balance short- and long-term goals.
6. Knock out boredom:
Boredom saps motivation and reduces productivity. In order to maintain motivation at the office, keep things lively and new. Avoid routine by allowing employees to explore and be inventive. Try to think of ways to put a new spin on old tasks, and to make sure that the most repetitive tasks don't always fall on the same people. Schedule short breaks so that employees can interact and check in with loved ones.
7. Eliminate dissatisfaction:
For many if not most employees, motivation is directly tied to job satisfaction. It almost goes without saying, then, that supportive leadership needs to do everything possible to eliminate such sources of dissatisfaction as uncertainty about the future, intrusive supervision and excessive paperwork. Just knowing that management is aware of problematic areas and is working to address them can help keep employees from losing sight of what they enjoy about their jobs.