Thursday 23 April 2020

Ten ways to motivate staff

One of the most important aspects of managing a business is keeping your staff motivated, particularly at the moment. Without motivation, the work environment (whether real or virtual) will soon become toxic and employees’ wellbeing will be affected. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that if your staff are feeling unappreciated, stressed and unhappy, they are less likely to perform to their full potential and you risk losing much-needed employees.

Gallup conducted research into performance management and found that “only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work”. With this in mind, there are many opportunities for employers to introduce ways to motivate their staff.

Many of us don’t just want to earn a living, we want personal development, appreciation, respect, rewards and, most of all, we want to be happy. By putting the following ideas into practice, you can inspire and motivate employees to work harder, which will then create a happier and more productive workplace.

Ideas for motivating staff

  1. Use incentives to encourage staff to hit their targets, such as bonuses, gift cards, or an early finish.
  2. Provide positive feedback on a regular basis either in the form of a monthly appraisal, personal email or recognition in a staff meeting.
  3. Ensure your employees have the proper equipment they need in order to do their job to the best of their ability and with ease. There’s nothing more frustrating than a slow PC or faulty machinery. 
  4. Run an 'Employee of the Month' scheme and perhaps create a wall of fame where the best performing staff will gain recognition among their colleagues.
  5. When normality resumes, organise social activities such as bowling, a day at the races or a work’s party. But in the meantime, you can organise online social activities such as an online quiz or a virtual group run. It’s important for people to feel included and part of a team to create a positive environment.
  6. Offer flexible working hours or allow staff to continue working from home from time to time if they have other responsibilities such as caring for children or an elderly parent.
  7. While dressing up may be appealing as an alternative at the moment, Dress Down Friday is a fun way to end the week and a slightly earlier finish to the working day always seems to go down well with employees. However make sure people know if there are any rules about how they should dress, otherwise suddenly telling staff that they're not allowed to wear jeans, for example, may make people unhappy to participate. 
  8. Brighten up the workplace with a fresh coat of paint, leafy plants or vibrant artwork. A study by the University of Massachusetts revealed that art in the workplace can reduce stress, increase creativity and productivity, and enhance morale.
  9. Offer staff training and room for growth in the company. If an employee is able to work towards a promotion with an increased salary through personal development, they are much more likely to feel motivated and work harder to achieve a goal that is in sight.
  10. Provide free healthy snacks and drinks such as fresh fruit, herbal teas and purified water. Healthy food and hydration can increase energy levels, improve mood and keep the brain alert.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

How practising empathy can create a better work environment

No matter what kind of industry you work in, the chances are there will be times when work colleagues clash, emotions run high and stress levels go through the roof. Spending so much of our time (whether in person or online) with work colleagues is sure to put a strain on our relationships from time to time.

So, how can we improve our working relationships and what can we do to create a more positive work environment? In Denmark, empathy classes are a part of the curriculum, teaching children from the ages of 6 to 16 how to empathise with others and help to solve each other’s problems collaboratively. Although this method might not necessarily work in an adult workplace, by practising empathy in other ways, we can create a better environment.

The three types of empathy

Psychologist Daniel Goleman believes there are three types of empathy: compassionate, cognitive and emotional. 

  1. Cognitive Empathy – Being aware of how someone is feeling or what they're thinking by understanding what other people are experiencing emotionally or mentally on an intellectual level. For example, you recognise when someone is feeling sad even though you might not actually feel their sadness.
  2. Emotional Empathy – Physically feeling someone else’s emotions. Perhaps a loved one is going through a lot of pain which creates an emotional response from you such as crying. 
  3. Compassionate Empathy – As well as understanding someone’s feelings on an intellectual level and becoming emotionally involved, compassionate empathy means that you want to help the person.

By showing all three types of empathy with the people we work with, we are able to create a sense of trust between one another and connect on a deeper level. In a work environment, you might find that different situations require a different type of empathy, so it’s important to recognise when to understand, when to feel, and when to help.

The American website Businessolver delivered a Workplace Monitor Report in 2017 which detailed how empathy in the workplace impacts on the productivity of employers.

Incorporating empathy into the workplace

There are many ways you can incorporate empathy into the workplace:

  • Undertake surveys and questionnaires so you can understand employees better.
  • Listen more to colleagues and ask more questions.
  • Shadow a colleague in another role so you can observe their working day.
  • Try to establish facts before making assumptions about a situation.
  • Organise social activities once a month to allow workers to get to know each other on a more personal level.
  • Encourage group lunches to promote inclusion.

In 2018, HMRC undertook an empathy experiment to discover how they could improve relationships at work, the results were very interesting.

Working in an environment where there’s little or no compassion between employees and employers can heavily impact on a person’s mental health. Making a few relatively small changes that encourage staff to practise empathy can make a huge difference to the work environment and people’s wellbeing.