Inspiring people is a gift that doesn't come innate to everyone. It's a skill that has to be developed through deliberate practice over time. For a business owner or startup CEO, knowing how to inspire people is an essential skill that can make the difference between future success and failure. Even with an innovative product or a life-changing service, your business can't grow without the unwavering support of your employees. And while cash incentives sounds like an easy solution to an uninspired workforce, they tend to be unsustainable and only have short-term impact to an employee's mood and drive to work and contribute. Here's four reasonable and sustainable ways to rally the troops into one common goal:
Give Their Work Purpose
Regardless of what role they play in the whole business process, whether they assemble and pack the products or help customers with their inquiries and technical issues, your employees want to know that the effort, sweat, and time they put into their day-to-day work matters. Contrary to what most corporations and businesses believe, employees aren't just numbers on your payroll or mindless drones walking around the workplace. They are people who value recognition and purpose. Emphasize their importance during meetings and reward them when quarterly earnings are good.
Involve Them in the Big Decisions
Decisions are what forms the company, and anyone involved in the decision-making process is considered valuable. That is why employees cherish to be included in big decisions. They feel that, at the very least, they have some sway over what happens to the company and which direction it takes. Limiting the decision-making input to high-level management staff can alienate lower level staff and discourage them from contributing openly and willingly. Promote equality amongst all levels of staff in the workplace.
Give Them Non-Cash Rewards
Incentivizing is one of the oldest management techniques in business, and for good reason - it works. But don't be lazy and just throw around money in exchange for every good deed. Instead, create a fun employee recognition program that rewards workers for a job well done. Prizes as simple as a free lunch or extra 10 minutes of coffee break can motivate your employees to push themselves just a little bit more to hit those marks. Humans have this reward center of their brain that you can and should take advantage of. With positive reinforcement and a bit of creativity in choosing non-cash incentives, you'll be able to increase productivity in the workplace while also making it more fun with a healthy dose of competition.
Help Them Advance Their Careers
Nobody wants to just work for someone the rest of their lives. Humans are born to be achievers and dreamers. They have ambition that cannot be contained. If you fail to recognize their ambition and need for advancement, they will likely jump ship to an employer who does recognize it. Inspire your workforce by providing career advancement support to those who wish for it. Enroll them in certification programs that add to their credentials and marketability, set up mentorship programs that train worthy employees into leadership roles, and promote from within instead of hiring outside candidates, something that is a huge turnoff to many employees.
Last but not least, don't forget to thank your employees for their hard work. In many brick-and-mortar companies, managers will greet their employees every day on the way in and on the way out to work. Rallying your troops with money might work short-term, but once cash stops coming out, the motivation and drive brought by this incentive will also cease to exist. By using the four tips aforementioned in this article, you are cultivating a culture of employees who actually believe in what the company stands for. And if employees believe in the importance of their work, they tend to produce higher quality output and work faster and in a more streamlined manner.