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5 things business leaders must do to keep employees motivated

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Dr. Vivek Bindra - Founder and CEO, Bada Business

27-Mar-2021

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A job where an employee feels stagnated and experiences no growth in her/his profile or skills is bound to leave them dissatisfied. A number of employees decide to switch jobs because they have failed to upgrade their existing skills or learn new skills in their current jobs. This is particularly relevant for our time when skills become redundant faster than ever before and upskilling is a key necessity to be relevant in the job market.

Motivated and self-driven employees form the bedrock of a successful organization. No matter how revolutionary your business idea is, its success can be guaranteed only by employees who execute it on an everyday basis and bring business gains in the process. In their pursuit of keeping their clients happy, organizations often overlook the need to ensure a happy, satisfied and motivated workforce. However, it is important to understand that a work culture that ensures motivated and self-driven employees will not only usher in better retention of talent but will also lead to better business results.

As a business leader if you believe that monetary compensation is the only factor that drives motivation and satisfaction among employees, you are mistaken. The organizational work culture, the value a company accords to its employees, the learning opportunities it provides and effective work-life balance are also key drivers of employee motivation and satisfaction. At a time, when an economic crisis has led to a difficult job market and impacted an organization's abilities to offer bulkier financial incentives to their employees, the need to pursue employee engagement and motivational strategies becomes all the more important.

Here are 5 such ways through which you motivate and retain your employees for a longer time period:

1.     Recognition, appreciation and meaningful work

One of the most important elements of an organizational culture that keeps employees happy and motivated is the focus on recognition and appreciation. Effective recognition of an employee’s contribution and effort goes a long way in earning loyalty and ensuring satisfaction with the job. On the contrary, a work culture where managers pull up employees regularly for their shoddy performance while failing to appreciate them for a job well done leads to disenchantment in the workplace. Leadership is all about people handling and when it comes to dealing with people incorporating human emotions and empathy becomes critical to leadership success. Often, employees work in challenging situations where they are continuing to perform their duties while dealing with personal difficulties or health issues. This is why managers and leaders should ensure that their teams are adequately appreciated for their contributions and hard work. This not only pushes the employee to perform better but also boosts his or her morale.

At the same time, recognition also includes making your employees feel valued and ensuring they are involved in meaningful work that recognizes their key skills and puts their abilities to the right use. A Deloitte report in 2020 surveyed over 500 employees across multiple industries identified meaningful work as a major challenge to employee motivation. The survey found that 42% of employees who were seeking a new job were disenchanted by the fact that their current organization did not make good use of their skills and abilities. A healthy reward and recognition policy accompanied by perks and incentives such as childcare reimbursement, cafeteria subsidies, access to loans on below-market rates, employee stock options etc. can keep employees motivated. 

2.     Up-skilling and learning

A job where an employee feels stagnated and experiences no growth in her/his profile or skills is bound to leave them dissatisfied. A number of employees decide to switch jobs because they have failed to upgrade their existing skills or learn new skills in their current jobs. This is particularly relevant for our time when skills become redundant faster than ever before and upskilling is a key necessity to be relevant in the job market.

It is important therefore for organizations to invest in well thought out upskilling programmes for employees that keep them abreast with the latest know-how about their industry. At a time when availability of online courses has made upskilling easier, organizations must craft strategies to constantly upskill and reskill their employees and keep their learning graph running. To cite an example, if you have a designing team, exposing them to the latest designing softwares and skills becomes important not just for the employees but also for the organization. Similarly, imparting new skills such as digital marketing, Instagram and Facebook marketing and new-age brand management skills becomes vital.

3.     Work life balance

With the emergence of 24/7 connectivity, our professional lives have in recent years has overflown into our personal lives. So much so that there is no clear distinction left between the personal and professional. Resultantly, work life balance (or the lack of it) has emerged as a major challenge for employees. Absence of work life balance, a lack of leisure time and high stress levels tend to burn out employees rather quickly, impacting productivity and efficiency of the organization at large. Unfortunately, many organizations do not give due importance to the question of work-life balance in their pursuit of short term gains. In a post COVID world, as more people work from home, the differentiation between the official and personal and become all the more fluid.

A “Global Talent Trends” survey conducted by LinkedIn last year concluded that work-life balance was a crucial determinant of job satisfaction. As many as 69% of talent professionals and hiring managers surveyed across 35 countries in the report said that work-life balance is the leading factor impacting employee experience at a workplace. The right balance between the personal and professional lives was ranked as the number one workplace motivator in the Survey.

Nurturing a work culture that does not treat employees like machines and makes adequate space for their personal and family time is a crucial driver of employee satisfaction, retention and motivation in our times.

4.     Address dissatisfaction

Lack of a democratic approach in policy making and orders that flow top down lead to dissatisfaction and disenchantment among employees. Often, organizations also lack effective channels for employees to convey their dissatisfaction or raise a red flag about an issue of concern. Sometimes, channels do exist but the process seldom leads to redressal of the issue. Over time, such a build-up makes employees feel devoid of any value or participation in the organization.

Every organization must have a clear and transparent two-way communication policy as well as strategies to ensure that any dissatisfaction is addressed effectively. Top managers as well as mid-level managers must not just keep communication channels open all the time but also ensure they are taking regular feedback from employees and hearing their concerns from them. For example, if an employee expresses reservations about her professional growth, managers must open the opportunity of new roles for her.

5.     Build a workplace with a social purpose

The millennial workforce is not just more innovative but is also more edgy and passion driven. It is always looking for greater meaning and purpose in what they do. This is why engaging your employees in a socially-driven initiative, additional to work, will motivate many of them. A social purpose adds more value and meaning to their lives. For example, if an organization gives its employees an opportunity to work for a child rights group or volunteer for a social cause along with their regular work, this social purpose is likely to add more meaning to their lives, motivating them to stay engaged with the organization. For instance, at Bada Business we ourselves are driven more by our purpose and mission to create entrepreneurs in every household, profit follows later. Hence, the employees not only work in the company because of the fact that ours is a stable organization but also because they believe in the purpose behind setting up the organization.