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However much you may want a workforce to enjoy being at work, the bottom line is always that to be profitable, grow the business or meet other business objectives you need a productive team.

Businesses need to look at introducing a range of incentives and benefits designed to improve motivation

Cracking the whip to increase productivity may work for short periods of time, but to keep productivity levels high over longer periods you would have to keep upping the pressure. This is not a sustainable model. Staff become stressed, job satisfaction decreases, motivation levels plummet, staff absences increase and the result is the opposite of what you hoped to achieve.

In our experience the key is to improve motivation and increased productivity will follow. Unmotivated employees put little or no effort in their responsibilities, produce low quality work and avoid the workplace as much as possible. They’re also more likely to leave the firm if another job becomes available, as they have no commitment or loyalty to their employer.

On the other hand, employees who feel motivated to work put the hours in (often going above and beyond what they are contracted to do), are likely to be persistent and creative, and turn out high quality work that they take pride in. The benefit to their employer is obvious: increased productivity and also improved employee retention.

Staff motivation is the employers’ responsibility

While the unmotivated employee sounds like a lazy good-for-nothing, is this their fault? While it’s tempting to lay the blame at the door of that employee, unless you’ve made a bad hire, motivation is a problem for the employer not the employee. The mistake that many companies make is that the strategies and incentives used to motivate staff are often a one-size-fits-all approach – not all individual employees will respond positively to those tactics.

Therefore, organisations need to look at introducing a range of incentives and benefits designed to improve motivation, so that employees can choose the ones that work for them, and employers can test what schemes deliver the best results. 

Read more about staff benefits:

Here are our tips for introducing motivational incentives:

(1) Consult with your employees first

Involve your staff in your motivation strategy and get buy in before implementing it. Organisations that impose schemes on staff from on high, often struggle to make them work because employees feel patronised or the scheme doesn’t meet their needs. Instead start the process by engaging with your employees to find out what would incentivise them

(2) Consider introducing several incentives

Some schemes and incentives work better in certain situations than in others. For example, targets and rewards are great for increasing productivity over short periods of time – squeezing that extra work out of people towards the end of the month or on completion of a project. Others have a slow burn; salary sacrifice schemes are a good example of this. These are great for increasing loyalty and overall job satisfaction, resulting in more sustained motivation levels and productivity

(3) Communicate your incentives regularly

It’s a common mistake to implement a scheme, communicate it to existing employees and new recruits, but then let it run in the background with no further promotion. This is especially true for schemes that don’t cost the organisation any money, such as salary sacrifice schemes, since measuring value for money is not so much of a financial consideration. However, if you don’t regularly communicate your incentives to your staff they forget about them and then don’t derive any benefits from your scheme, and the business doesn’t get the reward of increased productivity

(4) Constantly review your incentives

Because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to increasing motivation and productivity, whatever schemes you implement must be reviewed to monitor their performance. This will also provide you with useful information that you can share with employees; highlighting the real benefits of working for your organisation and motivating employees further.

If Glassdoor’s Top 20 Employee Benefits list is anything to go by, it seems as though bosses today will stop at nothing to keep their workforce happy. Here's what we found out.

Richard Ellis is sales and marketing director, at Connected Benefits.

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