· Features

Seven ways to motivate staff in 2014

Getting staff motivated for the year ahead is a vital task for management in any organisation. With workforces demotivated following several years with minimal or no pay rises, reduced headcounts, organisations need to ramp up their motivational efforts in 2014.

Last year was the fifth calendar year in a row when average earnings fell in real terms, which is unprecedented in at least the last 70 years. Combine these factors with a job market that is on the rise and companies will struggle to cling on to staff when the lure of a higher salary pulls them toward a new role.

It is easy to spend a lot of money motivating staff, with little tangible return. Before rushing headlong into introducing the latest motivational scheme, it is essential to take a step back and understand what the organisation wants to achieve through better-motivated staff and how it will measure the success of any initiatives.

This may be as simple as getting temporary sales staff to hit sales targets, improving customer satisfaction scores or perhaps looking to retain and engage well qualified employees to repay investment in training and deliver a quality service.

Here are seven steps to get your workforce motivated and performing to their best:

1. Engagement strategy. If you don’t have one, get one! Engaged employees are twenty times more likely to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, productivity, turnover and profit.

2. Implement a reward programme. If pay increase are not viable, then consider non-cash incentives.  Recognition of good work has been proven to be more effective at motivating staff against measurable criteria. Cash incentives get sucked up amongst everyday bills, whereas non-cash rewards retain their presentation value.

3. Determine the behaviours you would like to see in your ideal employee and recognise those who display such behaviours. Recognition schemes can enhance organisational performance and improve profitability. By creating a culture of recognition from both managers and peers you’ll motivate employees throughout the year - as opposed to a pay rise, which will only have a short term motivational effect.

4. Review your employee benefits. Benefits that add value to an employment package can make a genuine impact on the way employees view their employer. When salary freezes are commonplace it is essential to offer staff other ways to make genuine savings on their everyday spending and demonstrate that your organisations is helping them to cope with the ever increasing cost of living.

5. Make reward and recognition obtainable by all, not just your top performers. Companies can achieve greater gains by ensuring that their reward programmes set targets based on performance improvement and can be achieved by any member of staff, not just the top 10% who are probably already giving everything they have.

6. Empower managers. Give managers the tools they need to create development programmes that evolve throughout the year. Don’t wait for the annual appraisal, use recognition scheme data to give an indication of how well colleagues regard an individual and act on this information accordingly. Only 58% of employees say they know what they are supposed to do and how their performance is assessed, so be sure to establish continual two-way dialogue.

7. Focus on measurement. How will you determine if all these initiatives have made a genuine impact on staff motivation, retention and ultimately the success of the business? Forward thinking enterprises increasingly look for qualitative measurements of the success of their motivation programmes, such as customer satisfaction surveys, feedback from mystery shoppers or colleagues (for non-customer facing staff) and of course improved sales figures.

John Sylvester (pictured) is director at P&MM