As a business owner, it is up to you to make sure your employees remain motivated and productive. But sometimes, even the best members of your team can begin to struggle, either because they are overworked or because they are not challenged enough to maintain interest.
Whether employees feel burned out or just bored, management needs to pay attention to their workforce to identify any issues they may be facing and take action before it's too late. These seven entrepreneurs share their best tips managers can use to help valuable employees get back on track even during times of stress or boredom.
Ask and listen.
"It's important to have a sit-down meeting with them and learn more about what's bothering them to understand how you can help them," thinks Serenity Gibbons, local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California.
By having an honest conversation with your employees, you can find out if they're stressed or bored or if there is something else going on. "Ask questions, but also be quiet and listen to the answers rather than relying on what you think you know," Gibbons advises.
Change it up and be understanding.
It's essential to keep in mind that employees may often be afraid to let you know they are stressed or bored because they don't want this to impact their job security, Calendar founder John Rampton warns. The situation is made worse when leaders take these complaints wrong, thus proving the talent's fear.
"Instead of taking it personally or judging the talent for it, work with them to change up the work or give them a break," Rampton says. "Understanding and working together in a communicative, open way goes a long way."
Offer more flexibility.
Once you find out what's going on, it's important to offer employees more flexibility, according to OptinMonster co-founder and president Thomas Griffin: "Being in the same environment for hours at a time, five days a week would make anyone go crazy after a while."
Flexible options management could offer include Fridays off or allowing employees to work from home a few days. "It shows them you care, and their appreciation will show up in the quality of their work. When employees feel in control, they're more productive and less stressed," Griffin adds.
Give them a side project.
"When it comes to removing the potential for boredom, it's important to provide a task that is high interest but low priority," says Nicole Munoz, founder and CEO of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc., while talking about the importance of helping your employees feel challenged enough to stay with your organization.
However, assigning side projects can backfire if you're not mindful of how much time employees need to spend on them, which can potentially lead to them feeling overworked, Munoz warns. "Give them something that they can work on as a side project and may involve a lot of responsibility or planning, and tell them to focus on that when they have time."
Create a friendly competition.
Another way of keeping employees interested or helping them get through a stressful time is to create a friendly competition, according to SeedProd LLC founder John Turner.
"For instance, at our company we created a monthly SEO challenge for employees to participate in. It's work-related so it helps them regain their enjoyment for their duties and learn new things, but at the same time it allows them to have a little fun, as well," Turner explains.
Encourage them to learn new skills.
"I always encourage people to have an interest in something they do not know," Yifei Yin, co-founder and CEO of Human Heritage Project, chimes in.
Yin explains that she encourages bored employees to learn something new either from books or online courses. "Coursera is a good place for bored employees to kill time while also studying a new skill. And remember that their growth is also part of the company's growth," she adds.
Set appealing long-term goals.
But perhaps one of the most motivating factors for an employee is knowing they have a clear target to work toward every day, The Big 4 Accounting Firms CEO Bryce Welker believes.
"Boredom and burnout at work can be a result of tunnel vision--if your team members aren't able to focus on the big picture because the daily grind is too distracting, this could be the culprit. In order to resolve this issue, remind your team of the long-term goals they're working toward," Welker recommends. To make these goals even more appealing, employers could even tie them to performance-based bonuses, he concludes.