Do you feel that your workplace is lacking spark and ingenuity? Finding strategies to help inspire your employees to be high-performing and innovative will pay off in the long run.
Emphatic Positive Reinforcement
From childhood to adulthood, positive reinforcement is the key to learning consistent work habits. It encourages good behaviour and is reaffirming for a strong work ethic. It also creates a workplace that is focused on growth and confidence.
As a leader, positive reinforcement is as important, if not more, than negative feedback. Providing employees benefits and praise when they do something well shows that you’re paying attention to their successes. It also encourages them to continue on the same, positive track.
Rewards and feedback should be meaningful and appropriate to the milestone or behaviour. They can also be both individual or team-based. Finding what works best for your employees is the first step in creating your positive reinforcement strategy.
Employees love to be recognised for a job well done. A simple shout out in an email or newsletter goes a long way in showing that you appreciate their hard work. It also encourages other employees to work towards earning similar recognition.
Rewards are a great way to show appreciation of high-quality performance. Grab lunch for the team for a great month. Show employees that you are grateful for their extra effort with a small gift card. The value of the reward is not as important as the thought behind it.
One of the most important aspects of your workplace culture is how your employees work as a team. A toxic team environment can quickly de-energise an office. Make an effort to encourage and foster strong morale with team building events and exercises.
Take an hour or so of each workweek and dedicate it to team building activities. These simple games can include cooperative puzzles or ways to get to know each other better. The break in the day will bring new energy to your employees and give them the chance to deepen their connections and cooperation skills.
Think about scheduling a team outing outside of the workplace. This allows for team building in a more relaxed atmosphere. It also gives you the chance to get to know your employees in a more unique way.
Cooking classes, escape rooms, and canoeing all require cooperation but in a different way than within office walls. Employees will learn more about each other and appreciate one another more. Having a shared experience will help boost morale even after you return to the office.
Finding a volunteer opportunity for your workplace to get involved in can be valuable. Giving back releases endorphins and can give everyone a feel-good vibe. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for team members to bond over a common goal.
Create a Workplace Vibe
The traditional fluorescent lighting and grey cubicles don’t do much to stimulate the mind. When employees are happy with their surroundings, they are likely to work harder. Having a thoughtfully designed workspace can change the mindset of the whole office.
Think about the vibe you want to create. It may even be worth it to bring in a designer to help you hone in on your aesthetic. You want your office’s decor and features to make sense for your type of work.
Look for ways to add colour to your office space. A bright accent wall can bring a fun personality to a conference room. Bright furniture and rugs can add comfort and style. The priority should be transforming the space from sterile to inspiring.
Encourage your employees to make their space their own. Provide wall space or bulletin boards to hang family photos or sources of inspiration. A standing desk or more ergonomic chair can make an employee much happier with their workspace.
Make sure to add other features that make the workplace more welcoming. Keep a fruit bowl stocked or refill sparkling water in the break room fridge. These small changes can make employees feel valued and like a true part of the workplace.
Foster Healthy Competition
One of the best ways to boost performance is by fostering a little healthy competition between your team members. Many employees tend to work harder towards their goals when they are given a benchmark to reach before others. Remember to be creative and fair in your efforts to reward standout performers.
Providing a competitive environment encourages employees to be innovative and think outside the box. They know they need to find a way to set themselves apart from their co-workers. It will lead to new ideas as employees improve individually and make the competition tougher.
Rewarding individuals for their contributions is always welcome, but rewarding teams for a job well done can increase teamwork and boost morale. Positive feedback for working together efficiently towards a common goal encourages cooperation. It can also show other teams what strategies work well for more successful groups.
Your reward system should be consistent and objective. Make sure you’re impartial and honest when providing feedback. Whether you opt for giving a monetary reward or a creative show of recognition, make it clear to employees that future rewards are fair game to everyone.
A little self-competition can be equally beneficial. Many employees are motivated by besting their previous goals and accomplishments. Encourage this practice by providing measurable objectives and regular opportunities for feedback.
One of the biggest complaints amongst employees is that they feel undervalued. An appreciated employee tends to be a harder worker. Making employees feel like they are a valuable part of the team inspires them to produce quality work.
Put yourself in the shoes of your employees. You’ve likely had a situation where you felt unappreciated. What would you have liked to go differently? How can you use your reflections to be mindful of how you treat your employees?
Communicating with employees on a personal level can show that you value them as more than just a worker. Show interest in their hobbies and family life and that you realise that they have a life outside of work. Encourage a strong work-life balance and make sure they are making their mental wellness a priority.
Providing feedback is one of the more important roles of a leader. Make sure your one on one conversations with employees are a meaningful and good use of both of your time. Clearly communicate what they are doing well and why you are grateful to have them as a part of your team. Being as specific as possible about their work and accomplishments shows that you truly are paying attention to their efforts.
When your employees succeed, you succeed. Show your employees that your future is important to you. Create opportunities for mentorship and career development. Help them develop a career path and a plan to work towards their long term goals.
Building trust is one of the cornerstones of a strong team. You need your employees to trust you as a leader. It’s also essential that they trust each other for a strong culture. Fostering this trust can be tricky but is well worth it in the long term.
Micro-managing is one of the most obvious and irritating signs that a leader doesn’t trust his or her employees. Allow your employees to work as independently as possible. This shows them that you know they are capable and competent. Let them know that you are available to guide them should they need help along the way.
Show your employees that you trust their ideas and concepts, even if they are different than your own. Expecting your employees to think just like you stifles innovation. Have confidence in their plans and allow them the opportunity to prove themselves.
In order to be an effective leader, your employees should see you as trustworthy and fair. Be as open and honest as possible with your communication. Make sure the decisions you make are fair and clearly explained. Show your employees that you are not just their boss, you are on their team.
When team members don’t trust each other, cooperation fails. It’s vital to encourage trust between employees. Make it a priority to encourage honesty and open communication between workers. Be an example of how trust is valued to you and how much you are willing to work to earn it.
Focus on Flexibility
Your employees likely have busy and complex lives. A lot of the stress that surrounds the workplace is a lack of flexibility. Help your employees balance it all by making work easier to fit into their lives, rather than their lives revolving around work.
More and more companies are providing the flexibility to work from home. Access to technology makes this a convenient option for many workers. It will also cut down on sick days and can even boost productivity. Provide your employees with this option to show you both understand their situation and that you trust them to still complete their work.
Be cognisant of the other schedules your employees have to accommodate. Consider allowing work hours to be planned around school or daycare hours. Think about how you can make summers off easier for working parents. Being aware of the local school calendar allows you to be proactive in planning for breaks in the school year.
If possible, allow employees to get their work done on their own time. Maybe they would like to hit the gym or fit in doctor’s appointments during the day. Make it clear that you’re perfectly fine with them making up the time and completing their work in the evening or weekend. This flexibility will make them feel valued and they will likely be even more productive in the off-hours.
Showing your employees trust and value is essential to morale. Making the workplace a positive and stress-free area of their lives is vital to productivity. Your goal as a leader is to develop a strong employee centred culture that encourages growth and teamwork.
These efforts will result in a boost in creativity and innovation. Your employees will be motivated to band together for the mutual benefit of the company. Your example and positive modelling of leadership may even inspire them to become the leaders of tomorrow!
About the Author
Ashley is a freelance writer with a passion for wellness and work-life balance. Her background in marketing and diverse employment history at various levels has given her insight into a wide variety of subjects.