How Motivation and Morale Affects Productivity in the Workplace Coming from a military background morale and motivation were 2 key words that were ingrained in my head day after day while in serving in the armed forces. The command and control leadership style used fear of punishment for not performing your job vs. awards and recognition for doing it right. Even though my leadership always talked about change and ways to improve, morale and motivation were always issues. Organizations have goals whether it be the countries defense or to grow and make profit for its owners and shareholders.
However none of these goals can be achieved by ordering people to do what we want. In the military this approach might have worked for short term goals, but over time it can destroy morale and stifle motivation in the workplace. Experience has shown that helping people realize their full potential can lead to attaining goals that would be impossible to reach under a command and control leadership style. Recent surveys have found that employee motivation is sagging throughout the world and morale has fallen at almost half of all companies (Quast, 2011).
In order to successfully motivate your workforce you must first focus on overall morale. Morale can be defined as an attitude or emotional state of a person or a group of people (Lee, 2004). When you have low morale you come to work thinking your job is boring and monotonous. Your behavior directly affects your productivity and indirectly affects your peers as well. When your morale is high you come to work on time, your productivity is high, and motivated easily to boost production for your department and your business. There are a lot of successful ways to boost morale.
One of my previous employers used to provide free sodas, candy, tea, and coffee in all the break rooms. Even though this was something minor it made the employees feel like they were liked and respected and each day we started work in a good mood (and full of sugar and caffeine). Another program was to recognize each employee on their birthday month and is given the opportunity to have lunch with the CEO and to ask questions and provide feedback. When you are in a company with over 60,000 employees having the chance to sit down and have lunch with your CEO is a rare opportunity.
Another highly successful approach to improving morale is to conduct employee satisfaction surveys. In order to find out what factors might be affecting morale you have to listen to your employees and get honest feedback without the fear of recourse. This is usually done by a third party that protects the employee’s identity and collects and reports the findings to each manager or department. Managers have to take the survey responses seriously and address any issues that may be uncovered in order to prevent losing talented workers for good.
Once solutions are implemented you must have a means to measure your progress, so follow-up surveys need to become a cyclical process. A few other affective ways to improve morale is getting to know your employees better and volunteering for community projects as a department or team. If you take the time to get to know each of your employees on a personal level you will come across as more caring and authentic manager. Don’t always jump directly into work when they come in the office, ask about their spouses, kids sports games, activities over the weekend, etc.
If you get to know them on a personal level they feel like you are interesting in them and they are not just another number. From time to time it’s also good to get your employees out of the office for some team building and community service events. Getting out of the office environment during work hours boosts your employee’s morale and lets them get to know each other better and at the same time doing good things for the community. You develop relationships and stories that you can share years down the road.
Once you have a manageable level of morale in your organization you have to continue to try new ways to motivate your workforce. Gaining a better understanding of what motivates people will make you a better manager and help you get the most out of those who work for you. Employees are more motivated when their voices are heard and are part of the decision process; making them feel needed, appreciated, and valued (Inc. 2010). For most people the biggest motivational factor is money. Listening to your employee short and long term career goals is extremely important in order to help them get to that next level.
You have to set goals for them and make them measurable. Once they have achieved those goals you need to reward them with promotions, pay raises, and/or stock options. It’s also important to notice employees that are performing duties above and beyond their peers. These individuals should be rewarded for their hard work with merit increases, bonuses, etc. When there are new job position openings or management opportunities promote from within when possible. Although specific circumstances require you to look for talent outside your company you should always first consider internal personnel.
If you do this you are sending a very positive message to everyone that there are indeed further career opportunities within your organization (Hartog, 2008). Other valuable programs that companies use are employee stock purchase programs that allow employees to purchase stock bi-annually at a discounted rate. Employee performance, productivity, and motivation can all be tied to how invested a worker feels in his or her company. Becoming stake holders in the company by owning shares motivates the employees to make the company successful. As the company grows in value so does the employees portfolio.
This is a key reason stock options and restricted stock grants are a very common form of bonuses and promotion packages. Besides monetary means of reward for motivation there are some other successful approaches. Some companies focus on happiness over motivation. Companies have perks that make things easier for their employees such as on-site daycare, 401K match programs, tuition reimbursement, and free health care. These perks make employees happy to work for a company that offers these types of benefits and are more willing to stay with their current employer and work for lower salaries than other positions in their industry.
Also the idea of giving employees more freedom on where they work, when they work, as long as the work gets done seems to be a growing trend. Companies are trying to create conditions in which the employees are finding joy and happiness in the work itself. Giving employees the choice of whom to work with and what projects they work on fosters creativity and mastery of tasks and skill sets (Inc, 2010). With the recent downturn of the economy companies have been making a lot of cutbacks, layoffs, and looking for ways to improve operational efficiency.
Companies have cut back on financial incentive programs and even put them on hold in order to stay financially viable (Quast, 2011). Managers still have to find other ways to motivate their workforce effectively. Communicate openly with your employees on the status of the company and try to be transparent with information that comes from upper management. Employees don’t like to be kept in the dark and feel more at ease if they feel like information flows freely. Visibility to leadership is also a key driver of motivation.
When an employee is noticed for doing a good job on a project by company leadership it really helps with overall attitude. Employees that feel like their work is being recognized and valued tend to be more motivated to maintain or exceed their current level of productivity. Provide opportunities for your top performers by assigning them leadership roles and let them lead cross-functional teams. Empowering your employees to run meetings, make decisions, and to gain leadership experiences enforces their belief of self-value in the organization.
This helps also you identify future promotable people by seeing how they perform in leadership roles, take on and manage projects, and interact with other teams. Another effective way to motivate people is by given high performers new job titles. How people feel about the way they are perceived in the workforce is a critical component to overall attitude and morale. You want your employees to be proud of where they work and what title/position they hold. You can be creative with these new titles and maybe even seek input from your employees so they know what future positions they can hold within the organization.
Morale and Motivation go hand in hand when it comes to the overall success of your company. If an organization would implement some of the ideas and strategies I have noted about increasing morale and motivation it would be very beneficial to the overall health and happiness to its workforce. Employees would look forward to their workdays and in return the organization would benefit from increased productivity and efficiency. Companies must treat their employees as assets and do everything they can to retain and recruit new talent.