Most new employees hit the ground running and are keen to impress their new boss. However, over the next few months the monotony of the daily routine kicks in, they get comfortable in their team and settle into mediocrity and complacency. While this scenario is seemingly all too common, the good news is that there’s plenty you can do as a business owner to kick your former superstars back into gear.

Fortunately, the answer is not always offering them more money. You may have come across the often-spouted study that links a $75,000 (USD) income to ‘ideal happiness’. Using a cash lure to incite increased performance is not only unsustainable but it’s also not a major driver of employee satisfaction or engagement past this key income level. 

Particularly pertinent in the current context of global disruption and uncertainty, business owners need to find alternative intrinsic methods to keep employees productive and firing on all cylinders. Get an upper hand on your competitors by implementing the following strategies to keep your employee’s motivation levels high, without breaking the bank. 

Create a Positive and Awe-Inspiring Work Environment

Your employees spend a lot of their waking life at work. Your business work environment should be an immensely positive and awe-inspiring place, both physically and mentally. A 2011 study from the National Institute of Mental Health examined how office design can impact employee performance and engagement. The researchers found that workers in condensed, dark and old offices were significantly more stressed and less motivated than their counterparts. 

Simple changes can go a long way – invest in equipment for your staff, such as standing desks or dual computer monitors. Consider a more open floor plan with plenty of natural lighting and colour. Ask your staff what you can do to make their environment more fun, would playing light music or rolling out a team uniform help keep team spirits high?

Lead with Support and Vision

Humans are creatures of expectations. Employees treated as subordinates, who feel downtrodden and that they lack potential, are more likely to fail. The best leaders in business understand that their expectations influence their staff’s self-confidence towards their ability to perform. Excellent leaders are supportive and encouraging, expecting and fostering success, not demanding it or excessively chastising failures.

Managers who communicate and embody their company’s vision and core values through their actions are more likely to inspire the same behaviour in business employees. Having a strong, socially meaningful ‘Why’ driving your company’s purpose may motivate your team more than money, particularly in younger employees.

Empower Teamwork, Flexibility and Autonomy

Star individuals and top-performing teams have many things in common. One of them is the ability to leverage their unique strengths to achieve an outcome in a way that suits their work style. Granting autonomy to your employees allows them the flexibility to complete tasks their way, increasing trust, engagement and job satisfaction. 

Teams that are empowered to work collaboratively and create their own processes learn what works best for them, allowing them to deliver results without constant external oversight and direction. You’d certainly be more motivated when you’re given the freedom to do things your way, right?

Technology has led to an ‘always-on’ work culture where the line between work and personal life is increasingly blurred. Allowing employees the flexibility to balance their other responsibilities, such as working from home arrangements or alternative work hours to accommodate family commitments, reduces the chance of employer resentment and job dissatisfaction.

Reduce Boredom. Redistribute and Gamify Tasks

As many have discovered during recent isolation practices, the daily monotony of repetitive routines can seriously impact your motivation to achieve anything productive. You need to keep daily tasks interesting and new to challenge your brain into achieving at it’s best. Consider redistributing and rotating boring, recurring tasks around the office – everybody will be more motivated to do their part for the team.

Consider the gamification of weekly targets to promote healthy competition, engagement and enjoyment. How you do this will be unique to your teams and work processes, however, the implementation of contextual, special awards, badges or visual leaderboards can make a significant difference to employee motivation, team spirit and company motivation.

Share Feedback, Recognise and Reward

Unless an employee is in a customer-facing role, they may never see the outcome of their work on an end-user. It’s difficult to feel fulfilled by a task when the only satisfaction you receive is from your own, internal praise. 

As a business leader, it’s essential to share any positive feedback with your team. Try linking each team’s contribution to a positive outcome and communicating your appreciation. Recognise standout employees and reward them for their awesome work. It doesn’t have to be monetary, social recognition from our peers can be an immense driver of motivation!