How do you motivate your employees in the middle of a global pandemic? Some of your team are working from home, and as a Manager or Leader, you might be as well. Some are working on split rosters where they work at home for several days and only come into the office occasionally. With lock-downs in place, it is not uncommon to hear “I haven’t attended a physical meeting since March! It’s all Zoom and phone calls and it’s not the same! I miss the social connection at work”.
As a Manager or Leader, you need to ensure that your employees are productive, but at the same time not overworking. Some employees are not only trying to work from home, but also manage home schooling and small children. How do you ensure their mental health is ok?
What is Their Higher Purpose?
As a Leader or Manager, how do you get the most out of your team? The end goal is to maximise all the sources available to you to motivate your employees. There are three areas that you can work on to motivate your team and individual’s you work with. The highest level of motivation is your purpose; what you find meaningful in the work that you do.
This goes beyond your regular paycheck and looks at how you feel about your contribution and what your company does that adds value to the communities that we live in.
How does the work that your team, and individual team members, help the company to achieve its goals? What are the things you’ll do for no apparent reward? What will your team do? Part of your job as a Leader or Manager is to help your team to connect to their higher purpose while at work.
Recognise, Appreciate and Reward
The second area where you can motivate your employees is to look at their relationships with each other – their social motivation. Who works well together? Do your team’s skills complement each other?
Team members feel more valued when they are learning and enhancing their skills. One way to motivate your employees and inspire them to achieve great results is to provide them with opportunities for growth and development.
Most people are motivated to do their work well. But if a person’s efforts to succeed go unrecognised, unappreciated, and unrewarded, they will eventually decide that the outcome isn’t worth the effort. After a while, they will not want to do some of the things they should do and performance will suffer.
Positive Reinforcement and Social Recognition
Your team also needs positive reinforcement and social recognition. Social rewards or motivators are the approval of other people for getting the job done or for receiving recognition or an award.
When your team or individual team members achieve great results, put in extra effort, or do outstanding work, make sure to tell them that you’re grateful and be specific in your praise. Explain why their contribution is valued and how it helps to benefit the business. This will not only motivate your employees but help them succeed with future work.
Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
The final area to look at to motivate your employees is situational motivation which is the environment in which they work. What are the rules, the non-negotiables, the goals, and their KPI’s? How can they improve? How can you reward any improvements? Can you visually display their progress? Where is it appropriate to use positive or neutral reinforcement? When should you sanction or assign a consequence to your employee’s behaviour?
This is where extrinsic and intrinsic motivation comes in.
Extrinsic motivation is when you use external factors to motivate your employees to do what you want. Pay raises, time off, bonus payments, job rotation, or more responsibility and independence, and the threat of job loss are all extrinsic motivators – some positive, some less so.
Intrinsic motivation is internal. It’s about having a personal desire to overcome a challenge, to produce high-quality work, or to interact with team members you like and trust. Intrinsically motivated people have a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment from what they do.
As a Manager or Leader, you need to set achievable goals for your team and reward and positively reinforce their achievements. Allow your team to be as self-directed as possible with increased degrees of autonomy so that they set their own goals, strive to continually improve and take responsibility for how the work gets done. This increases intrinsic, or personal motivation because the company goal becomes their goal and they become personally satisfied when the work is done.
Results, Feedback and Accomplishment
Three factors act as personal motivators and can help you to motivate your employees.
- Seeing Results – People are most likely to set and maintain high-performance standards when they see the results of what they do. Motivating expectancies are formed when an individual sees a connection between their efforts and an end product.
- Feedback – People who set high-performance standards need to get concrete readings along the way as to how well they are doing. In other words, people need feedback. To be effective, feedback must be specific, constructive, and timely.
- Accomplishment – People sometimes need a push. They need to be placed in situations where they have to do more than they believe they can do. Once they stretch themselves successfully, they’re motivated to do a little more, then a little more, and so on. Accomplishment itself is a powerful motivator.
Tailor your Approach for Each Team Member
As a Manager or Leader, your goal is to keep your team members motivated and enthusiastic about their work. It’s important to strike a balance between extrinsic motivators, such as pay raises and changes to working conditions, and intrinsic motivators, like assigning people tasks that they enjoy.
Analyse your assumptions about your people. Remember that they will likely respond more positively when you use a participatory style of management, where they have responsibilities and can make their own decisions.
Everyone is different, so tailor your motivational approach to each team member. There are many strategies and tools that you can use to motivate your employees but, the more you know and understand each individual, the more effective your efforts will be.
Finally, remember the importance of leadership to motivate your employees and encourage them to exceed their expectations.
When you tap into what motivates your team through what they value, the social dynamics and the environment that they work in, you are likely to get the most out of your them.
Four Strategies to Overcome COVID-19 Restrictions
Some preliminary findings on a study underway at Griffith University identifies four strategies that safety managers are using to overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 restrictions. These strategies are useful to help you to motivate your employees as we continue to navigate through the pandemic.
First, they are actively working on the transparency and frequency of their communication and updating their workers with information as soon as it comes to hand.
Second, they are adapting the normal system of work to suit the changing COVID-19 conditions and embedding conversations about safety and wellbeing into their organisation’s culture.
Third, they are developing a relationship-focused leadership style that emphasises the human struggles and concerns raised by workers to build team bonds and a sense of togetherness.
Finally, they are providing reassurances and negotiated arrangements with workers to increase job security and reduce distraction, thereby ensuring continued productivity.
Monitor their Mental Health
In a survey conducted by the Australian Industry Group in April 2020, they found that 31% of employers report that their employees are highly anxious as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When people become afraid, their mental health is affected, and their worries become a critical focus.
You may be regularly changing their working arrangements, reducing their working hours and laying off staff. Your employees may be taking on an increased workload to get through their pressured-packed days, but they need to understand the impact on their mental health when they take on additional hours over an extended period.
When employees experience mental health problems, they will likely show changes in their energy levels and behaviour and have difficulties with interpersonal relationships at work and home. They may be irritable, moody and you may also notice a decline in their appearance. Anxious employees may make excessive lists and work longer than others. Anxiety does not help to motivate your employees because they often procrastinate.
As a Manager or Leader, your job has become more complex and challenging since the arrival of COVID-19. Not only do you need to manage a crisis and keep your employees safe, but you also need to ensure that they remain engaged and productive. There are three areas that you need to be aware of to motivate your employees and they are purpose, social recognition and the work environment. You need to extrinsically and intrinsically reward your employees when they achieve great results and encourage them to exceed their expectations.
Finding ways to motivate your employees through the pandemic is made all the more difficult when their mental health is under threat. You need to continually monitor their mental health because you may be regularly changing their working arrangements, reducing their working hours and laying off staff.
Also, your employees may be taking on an increased workload to get through their pressured-packed days, but they need to understand the impact on their mental health when they take on additional hours over an extended period. Overwork can lead to symptoms of stress and anxiety. Your employees need to learn coping strategies to address anxious feelings, and they must know where they can seek help if issues become overwhelming. To obtain specific support contact your EAP Assist counsellor.