Have you ever dealt with a problematic employee who just can’t seem to get motivated, no matter what you try? Or have you ever found one of your best and most successful employee struggling to get through a particularly challenging day?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy switch you can flip to suddenly make your workforce motivated. But there are a handful of convenient motivational tricks you can try to spark new interest in your employees.
Tricks to Motivate Your Employees
These are some of the most effective tricks I’ve found to motivate employees to give their best performances:
1. Appeal to a personal goal.
Figure out what motivates each person on your team, and try to appeal to those personal goals. For example, if you know that one of your employees is eager for a specific promotion, explain how their work on this upcoming project could be used to persuade a superior of their abilities. If they’re interested in learning new skills, tell them how their work on this task will help them learn something new—or polish a skill they’re currently trying to develop. This approach requires you to know how your employees think, so spend some time to get to know them.
2. Get them to move around.
Encourage your employees to get up and exercise from time to time. Depending on your circumstances, that might mean leading employees in a calisthenic routine, walking around the block, or just stretching in place. Physical exercise has the power to relieve stress, and will make your employees feel revitalized; this is especially valuable late in the day, or after lunch, when people tend to feel the most groggy.
3. Make them commit to something small.
People are sometimes reluctant to work if they feel intimidated by the size or scope of a project. You can overcome this in your own work by committing to working on a big task for just 5 minutes; once you start working on the task, it will be much easier to keep it going. Do this for your employees by making them commit to something small, like simply starting a task.
4. Dangle a carrot.
A monetary or tangible reward is always a reliable motivator. If an employee is feeling unmotivated, consider offering them lunch if they achieve something impressive. Just be careful not to do this too often, or your employees will expect a reward every time they fulfill their responsibilities, or they may hold out for more rewards instead of just doing their work.
5. Do something fun together.
You can also relieve stress and conjure motivation by doing something fun with your employees. For example, you can play a quick game of cards in the break room, or you can watch a funny video together. It’s a bonding moment, and a way to lighten the mood.
6. Actively listen to them.
Active listening is something you should practice on a regular basis, but it’s especially powerful if you know your employees are feeling unmotivated. Ask them how they’re feeling, and see if there’s anything you can do to improve the situation. A little support goes a long way here, even if you’re just listening to their frustrations. Listening is one of the best ways to motivate employees.
7. Give employees a fresh start.
It’s hard to recover from a long day of poor motivation or excessive challenges, so consider giving employees a “fresh start.” Give them a chance to start a project over, or let them leave the office for a while and come back refreshed.
8. Place a bet (with rewards and consequences).
I don’t necessarily encourage workplace gambling, but placing a casual bet with your employees could be a valuable way to motivate them. It gamifies work in a way that immediately makes it more appealing, and depending on how you structure the bet, it could easily motivate a better performance. For example, you could challenge an employee to finish a certain task within the week, and if they can, you can grant them a half day off—but if they fail, they have to handle an additional work responsibility.
The Big Picture on Employee Motivation
These tips may help you get through short-term challenges with employee motivation, but it’s important to remember that employee motivation is a long-term consideration. If you want your employees to consistently get motivated and stay motivated, you need to restructure your entire operation.
This means investing in strong leaders who can work to understand and personally motivate your team, restructuring your physical office (or enabling people to work from home) so they feel comfortable and focused, and ensuring that employees are adequately compensated and rewarded for their best work. It’s a big project, but one you’ll have to undertake if you want your employees’ motivation to last beyond the span of a temporary, gimmicky motivational trick.