Employees are arguably the most valuable asset in any company or organization. When they are performing at their highest levels of productivity, all parties reap the benefits (them and the company). And the opposite goes as well. When employees are divided, resentful or unmotivated, everyone loses. If you’re a business leader, therefore, it should go without saying that keeping your employees upbeat and closely-knit is a top priority. However, this is easier said than done. After all, how does one keep employees motivated and working as a team? Is it possible? Can a business leader actually influence these factors? The good news is that you can. And here are 5 different ways how you can do it.
1. Provide professional incentives
Many employers opt to use the stick as their preferred method of seeking results from their employees. Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach. Being tough and bossy with employees, especially today’s millennials, only creates a harsh working environment and scares resourceful staff away. The carrot serves as a much better incentive. That is, encourage your employees and offer them something positive to look forward to, e.g. higher positions, salary bonuses, commissions, extra employment benefits, salary raises, and even equity in your firm.
Unlike the stick that will only have your employees feigning to work when you’re around, the carrot will genuinely have them working harder around the clock. An important thing to add here is that the carrot approach is not just about giving your employees money. Yes, money is good but it is only effective to a point. Perks such as promotions and shareholding make employees feel valued and wanted within the company. And that is a great morale booster for them.
2. Even the playing field
As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. If you have ever watched any documentary on wildlife, you will realize that animals of any given species tend to hurdle together. A similar phenomenon occurs at the workplace; employees of the same rank or status tend to stick together. Management and junior staff just do not mix that well. If anything, they loathe and look down upon each other. Call it office politics or something else – it really doesn’t matter here.
The point is that if your employees do not see each other as equals, then they won’t work together. To turn this around, find a way to even the playing field among your workers. Standardizing pay is one approach. Another effective and more practical alternative is to simply treat all your employees equally. Don’t give anyone special treatment. If your employees understand and feel that they are all valued equally, they’ll also understand that only merit counts as far as productivity and upward mobility is concerned. And as a result, they will all put their best foot forward and seek that merit the right way. They will also bond better because there will no longer be any divisions among them.
3. Foster an us-against-the-world mentality
Nothing unites people better than a common enemy. And although this might seem applicable only in fight or flight situations such as combat, it is very much applicable at work too. The idea here is to make everyone feel that they are on the same team and working towards the same goals. For example, if the company wins an award or gets recognized in a positive way, celebrate with your staff too. After all, they contributed to the success. Such actions really do make them feel like they belong.
Also, if something is going wrong in the organization, keep the employees informed and let them know how you all will be affected. This makes them feel that everyone within the organization is sailing in the same boat. In fact, should the company suffer in some way thereafter, the employees will be more receptive to setbacks such as lay-offs or salary cuts simply because they will understand that the entire company is being affected and not just them. On the same note, the employees will be more willing to work harder to get the company out of the bad times for the benefit of everyone.
4. Employee gifting
Another technique you can use to bring your employees together and tighten their bonds is employee gifting. Gifts, no matter how small or simple, mean a lot to employees; especially when they come from the management. Gifts will motivate employees because they will make them feel that they are part of a team or a family of sorts. And no one in a team or a family unit likes to be the weak link or to disappoint his/her colleagues.
You can inculcate this into your company by introducing a practice or tradition of gifting employees when they do well or on special days such as birthdays. Cake, cards, gift vouchers, even brand items to build connections to the company and the like will do for this purpose. Don’t buy anything extravagant. To switch things up a little, you can have the employees also gift each other as well!
5. Team building activities
Last but not least, there’s team building. Team building has been a traditional recipe for fostering teamwork among corporate staff for decades. And there’s only one reason why it still exists today – it works! Team building allows your employees to step out of their work shoes – literary – and engage each other as people, equals, friends, and as teammates.
Preferably held away from the workplace, team building episodes allow your employees to let their guards down and get to know each other on a much deeper level. This formula enables them to create true bonds. The team building exercises, in turn, teach them how to depend on each other and why working as a team is vital.
Team building doesn’t have to be a grand outdoor experience. You can arrange events that encourage interaction, such as interactive dinning or even group cooking classes. A great example is Grilling Academy at Weber Grill Restaurant. Check around, and you sure to find fun activities that encourage the team to work together and have fun.
Granted, these five techniques will inspire a spirit of camaraderie among your employees and motivate them to apply more effort at work. It will make them better professionals and it will make your company more successful as well. Remember, however, these techniques may take time before the effects can begin to show.