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5 Unorthodox Ways to Boost Motivation (And Inspire a High-Performance Culture)

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Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Taking an unconventional approach to staff motivation can lead to valuable business results, such as higher productivity and lower employee turnover.

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Staff motivation and engagement should be top priorities for managers since people who feel committed to their jobs and their employer will make a bigger contribution to the company's output and overall success.

Gallup research has shown that higher levels of engagement can be linked to business outcomes such as:

  • 41% lower absenteeism
  • 24% lower staff turnover
  • 21% higher profitability
  • 17% higher productivity

5 ways to boost motivation in the workplace

If you've spent a long time trying to motivate your workforce without much to show for your efforts, it could be time to try some more unorthodox methods.

1. Gamification

Gamification is an approach that has shown promise in various areas of work and business. Adding an element of fun and some healthy competition to certain elements of the employee experience - whether it's training programs or working towards regular targets - can ease pressure in the workplace and provide incentives for people to dedicate maximum effort to their work.

One of the key things to remember where gamification is concerned is to keep it relaxed and voluntary. People shouldn't have to take part if they don't want to, and the games or contests you introduce shouldn't be connected to financial rewards or bonuses.

2. Encourage people out of their comfort zone

Encouraging workers to go out of their comfort zone and try things they've never tried before might seem counterintuitive when your ultimate goal is to drive performance and productivity.

However, this can be a worthwhile approach if you're concerned about employees becoming complacent, or if there’s a risk of people's professional development stalling because they've been in the same role for a long time.

According to past research by Korn Ferry, one of the most common reasons for people to look for a new job is because they're bored with their current one.

There are various approaches you can use to rekindle employees' interest in their roles, such as starting up a cross-departmental training program to help people diversify their skill sets and get a new perspective on the company.

3. Offer remote working

One of the common concerns managers have where remote working is concerned is that being physically separated from their staff will make it harder to keep people engaged, motivated and productive.

Recent research suggests the opposite is true, and motivation actually increases when staff are given the opportunity to work remotely.

Gallup found that the "optimal engagement boost" occurs when employees spend 60% to 80% of their time working off-site - the equivalent of three to four days in every five-day working week.

In addition, figures show that remote working is becoming more common with each passing year, so employers that ignore this trend could be at risk of seeming out of touch and losing staff to other companies that are willing to be more flexible.

There are many other examples of workplace flexibility that could contribute to staff motivation, such as giving people more freedom to set their own schedules and working times.

4. Look beyond work

Getting people truly motivated and eager to do their job to the best of their ability could require you to take a holistic, open-minded approach that looks beyond day-to-day workplace concerns.

If people are struggling with personal issues or health challenges like stress or anxiety, it's unlikely they’ll be able to dedicate much energy or enthusiasm to their work, regardless of how much they love their job.

Some employers choose to go down the route of employing in-house life coaches, who can provide practical and emotional support for workers in areas ranging from finances to physical health. Having access to these sorts of services can help people feel more looked after at work and consequently more motivated.

It can also prove beneficial for the company to broaden its horizons - and encourage employees to do the same - by working with charities and getting involved in causes that allow staff to make a positive contribution to society.

5. Get outdoors

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that being outdoors and having frequent exposure to nature is good for you.

It's important for employers to encourage their staff to go outside regularly and breathe some fresh air, regardless of how busy they are and if they have a major deadline looming. Being outdoors helps people destress and can provide a sense of invigoration that contributes to motivation in the workplace.

If simply urging staff to take a break from the workplace and go outside isn't working, you could arrange 'walking meetings' in a nearby green space, or hold team-building exercises based around outdoor activities.

As well as providing an immediate benefit in terms of engagement and energy levels, these efforts can contribute to motivation by showing that the business is keen to look after its workforce.

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