A couple months ago, we talked about bonuses and how they are a tricky animal to tame. Too small and the impact of the bonus can be negative but too big and you risk the same situation. One main point from that article that can be taken away is that people aren’t purely motivated by money. With that being the case, what alternative methods can you use to get the most out of your employees?
Perks can be a great way to incentivize your employees. Perks can be as varied as the personalities in your workplace. Not everybody will respond to an incentive the same way, so you can tailor your incentive to each employee. Some employees would love a casual day at the office. Others would prefer an extra day off (or even a half day off). Depending on the make-up of your office, extracurricular activities, such as an office party or after-work activities like bowling or going to the movies can be a great way to not only get the most out of your employees but to build a more connected and engaged office. Casual days don’t even cost you a dime, other options can be carried out inexpensively.
Again, this depends on the make-up of your office and your particular situation, but I know from experience that offering incentives to pay for education, such as tuition reimbursement programs or paying for schooling up-front, can be a great motivator and attract staff with a high level of internal motivation. Through college, I worked at a bank that offered tuition reimbursement, and this motivated me to do well in school to ensure I had the grades required to get reimbursed. It motivated me to do well at work, as I also needed a certain level of performance to qualify. Furthermore, you can instigate loyalty to your company, as the employee may feel indebted to your company after receiving education benefits. These benefits can be costly though, depending on what schools are in your area and what types of degrees or certifications your employees are attempting to earn. Regardless, this will allow you to get a more skilled workforce.
What do you know of Google’s offices? Did you know they contain a fireman’s pole, a slide, Ping-Pong tables, and Pac-Man–themed cafes? And this is just the tip of the Google iceberg. Now, Google is unique because of its type of industry, but you can learn a lot from them. Google’s offices have significant space for employees to come together and collaborate, a game room stocked with video games, and pool tables for when employees hit a wall, and free snacks. These benefits are designed to keep their employees happy and productive. If you can remove some of your employees’ worries while at work, you will have employees more focused on their work! Large companies have added cafeterias, gyms, or daycare centers to the property to make life easier for employees, allowing them to come to work with refreshed every day.
Care about your employee’s future
Taking a genuine interest in your employees’ future at your company will do amazing things for motivating your employee. If you are genuinely trying to help an employee through mentoring, coaching, or just giving them a bit of extra training, you can show an employee you care about them and not just the work they do. Show your employee they aren’t a means to an end.
Care about your employee’s work/life balance
I know we have mentioned this before but it is wildly important. Be flexible with your employees, understand that things come up, such as family emergencies, doctor appointments, kids’ soccer games, and so on. Be understanding about these things and encourage employees to take the time to make these happen. If your employee is working himself or herself to the bone, you may find that they get burnt out and disengaged. Promote a healthy work/life balance and do so while being genuine.
Listen and provide feedback regularly
Again, being genuine is huge. If you actively listen to your employees’ complaints, frustrations, conflicts, drama, family issues, or whatever else may be coming up, be sure and listen. People appreciate being heard, and if you actively listen to them, you can head off issues before they become larger problems and keep your employee’s head in the game while proving to them that he or she means more to you than work.
I recently came across a poster that said, “All I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten,” and it certainly rings true to this day. One thing you learned in kindergarten was to treat others as you wish to be treated. This is the same with your employees. Don’t use your position and the power that comes with it to disrespect your employees. If you constantly tell employees that showing up late will result in negative action, but you show up late because you stopped to get your coffee, you are setting a double standard that can undo a lot of hard work. I had a manager at the bank who was adamant that nobody could call in sick during a specific month because of how busy we were going to be, but then she would call in sick during that time because her pet was ill. Had someone else called in sick, the perception was that it wouldn’t have been allowed or highly frowned upon.
Recognize a job well done. This ties in pretty well with the above method of employee motivation, since recognizing strong efforts helps you treat people as you would wish to be treated. Create a program that recognizes someone putting in good work. Even verbal recognition will do wonders to keep your employees motivated. Good recognition programs can help motivate employees to do work greater than you may even think possible.
Review performance regularly
Let your employees know where they stand and do so regularly. Reviews should be conducted at least quarterly. In these reviews, write down what your employee is doing well and what they need to improve upon, and establish some good goals to be met before the next review. Good goals should be measurable, achievable, specific, time-limited, and positive. If you say “You need to do better,” this doesn’t do anything for your employee. What do they need to do better? By when? How can he or she do these things better? Poor goals will limit how effective these reviews can be. Nothing is worse than an employee not knowing where he or she stands. Keep your employees confident in what they are doing while helping them improve with good goals.
These are just a few of the ways that you can incentivize your employees to do well and are all alternatives to just providing a bonus. While you may not have the resources to implement all of these things, try to implement at least two or three over the next couple months. Let us know how it goes! What worked? What didn’t? Comment below to give us some feedback.
Next month, we will take another look at bonuses and how to more appropriately align them with what you are trying to do.
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