9 ways to Appreciate and Motivate Your Staff

We’ve all heard the story, a company puts in hours creating the perfect advert, ensuring the vacancy they are offering is as attractive to potential employees as possible.

Candidates come flocking, enchanted by the generous offer on the table. A year has passed, maybe two, and the vacancy is there again. What went wrong?

A company with a high staff turnover will struggle for many reasons. The main two of these will be consistency and cost. Consistency is key when running a successful business, however, a constant change of staff puts this in jeopardy.

That small start up is fed up with having a new account manager every 5 minutes and that large enterprise is done with having to explain their needs over and over and over again to different people.

The cost of high staff turnover in hours spent recruiting and training will be draining pots of money left, right and centre

The key to ending high turnover is to ensure that staff feel appreciated and valued in the roles they are in. If you only do this when one foot is out of the door… it’s one foot too late! So how do you make staff want to stay put?

Appreciating your staff well doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive but it does require some thought into how to help your team feel like they belong. 

motivate staff

We’ve come up with 9 ideas that you can use to motivate your staff.

  1. Saying Thank You
  2. Criticise well
  3. Encouraging staff
  4. Create a culture
  5. Presenteeism
  6. Be generous
  7. Money is not a dirty word
  8. Celebrate together
  9. Performance Management

1) Saying Thank You

It feels a bit like a no brainer, but when was the last time you said thank you to an employee? 

Even if it was just for doing their job?

One of my favourite things about working for Postworks is at the end of every day, my line manager (and sometimes multiple managers) thank me for my day at work.

It might sound silly or unnecessary, but those simple words “thanks for today” makes me feel like my time and efforts that day have been valued. 

If a member of staff has done something particularly helpful say thank you. This could be done in private or in public and could be for a whole host of reasons.

To ensure that your appreciation is understood, try to follow these steps when saying thank you:

  • Be specific – say what in particular you want to thank them for. “Hey Sally, thanks for covering for me earlier…”
  • Say why – tell them why it was helpful to you or the company. “If my mother-in-law had managed to get hold of me, I’d have been on the phone for hours…”
  • Tell them you appreciate them – Seriously, it’s good to hear that! “I really appreciate you looking out for me.”

2) Criticise well

Constructive criticism - motivate staff

Praise can be public but any criticism (constructive or not) should be done in private. Giving someone a public telling off does nothing for the moral of anyone.

It creates a culture of fear and automatically puts people into fight or flight mode – not a helpful place to be working from. 

Self-preservation does not work well with team work. 

When you need to give criticism, remember – we all make mistakes! Yes, even you Shirley!

If you make a mistake, apologise and be genuine about it. Your staff will respect you and appreciate you more for it. 

If someone does something wrong, you should definitely speak to them about it. Allow them to accept responsibility for it and apologise. And then… move on. Don’t hold it over them any longer!

It may be necessary to investigate why an error occurred in the first place. 

Was it just a genuine mistake?

Was it laziness? 

Was it poor training?

No one tries to make a mistake so investing your time into finding out why it occurred will help avoid the same mistake again and the employee will feel that you are working with them, not against them. 

3) Encouraging staff

Encouraging staff isn’t always nicey nicey. It is to “give courage”.

Sometimes this will be through bigging someone up, sometimes through support and training and sometimes by challenging someone (and sometimes giving someone a metaphorical kick up the backside!) 

Be aware of doing any one of these exclusively. Too much bigging up will involve having to fit new door frames (costly and unnecessary) and too little support will result in a group of headless chickens clucking with no direction. 

Great leadership equips people to be capable of more and to constantly improve and grow. 

Reflect on how you encourage your team and perhaps try something new.

Motivating your staff doesn’t always mean making their workload less, you can motivate and encourage their teams by putting trust in your employees to work on side projects that interest them and will benefit the company.

Famously, Google allow their employees to spend 20% of their time on a separate (but related) project. A little trust always goes a long way!

4) Create a culture

Encourage staff

What is the culture of your workplace?

Did you know, as a leader you influence this either through action or inaction?

Culture is an odd thing to think about in relation to appreciation. But the right culture has appreciation at its heart and so it is always worth thinking about your company’s culture before implementing any changes. 

People don’t like to sit at tables where they are going to be the topic of conversation when they get up and believe it or not, many people don’t like to hear swearing on a regular basis.

If this is already ingrained into the company culture it can be difficult to change it but it can be done. The starting point is to model this from the top down.

There’s no point hauling Mandy into the office for swearing or for laughing at Karl’s new haircut – no matter how bad it looks – it would be better to just gently and kindly, close off those conversations. 

Think about what sort of behaviours you want your employees to be showing towards each other. If you want an encouraging, supportive network, you need to model this and praise others for when you see it. 

Share your vision with the team and explain why you’d like to see that. 

Allow your team to support, protect and cover each other. It makes your life easier in the long run too (so many less HR issues to deal with).

Share training on conflict resolution and teach your team how to deal with disagreements in a healthy, constructive way. Investing in your staff in this way will mean they not only feel appreciated, but they appreciate one another. 

5) Presenteeism

Presenteeism - motivate staff

Presenteeism is a growing problem across the UK. 

For those who haven’t come across the term before “presenteeism” is where members of staff feel duty bound to attend work even if they’re not feeling “it”. 

They might be a little under the weather, or have had a big night the night before. They may have a small person screaming into the early hours, or an unwell loved one who they have been caring for. There are a whole host of reasons people might not be feeling ready for work.

When people attend work and “aren’t really there” the output in both quality and quantity is greatly reduced as well as being detrimental to the mental health of the employee. For many it’s either lie to you and call in sick or come in anyway. 

Consider the different ways that you could combat this. 

One way, which is gaining momentum, is to introduce a “duvet day” or a “well-being day”. This is a specific number of days (usually 1-3) put aside each year for an employee to claim when they need it.

These are in addition to holiday and work as an informal, additional sick day, although, they should not be classed as sick days. 

Employees are able to call up in the morning and claim a duvet day. They don’t need to provide a reason and most importantly, they won’t lie to you! 

Some employees won’t need to or want to use these. But knowing they are there shows that you care about them as a person as opposed to them as a working machine. 

6) Be generous

Love Keyboard - Appreciate and motivate staff

Be generous to your employees. 

I don’t necessarily mean a box of chocolates everytime Nigel manages to switch on the computer without it blowing up  – although the occasional gift doesn’t go a miss.

Instead, be generous with your thanks and encouragement.

If you do want to give a material gift – and if you are able – don’t be generic!

If you know someone is a fan of gardening, perhaps get a new plant for the garden.

If they have young children, perhaps give them the day off to prepare for a birthday party.

If they are avid readers, book tokens never go a miss.

If they’ve just had a baby – they won’t necessarily appreciate a large bottle of gin (but would probably appreciate all the coffee you can find!)

By knowing the important things in the lives of your employees (big and small), you are showing them that you value and appreciate them

Staff motivation is often in the little things. Here at Postworks, a healthy (and yummy) lunch is provided to all members of staff free of charge; some companies provide a heavily subsidised canteen instead. The way to many a heart is definitely through their stomachs! 

Research has shown that a healthy lifestyle improves the well-being of a person (Exercise and Nutrition). This may be something worth exploring within your team.

You could look into subsidised gym memberships, organised yoga classes or even put together a rounders team (fun and cost effective!)  

7) Money is not a dirty word.

Money - motivate staff

Whilst I would normally advocate saving money wherever you can, I would also say your staff’s wages is not one of those places.

Ensure that you regularly check the “going rate” for employees and be available for frank and open discussions relating to wage. Now’s not the time to be British about it!

Think about bonuses and how you can make it work for your company.

Many businesses, particularly those in the public sector, are just not able to award bonuses and that’s ok, your staff will know and understand this. 

If you are able to award bonuses, think about how this will work for you.

It’s not all about the money, but I remember the first bonus I ever got. It was out of the blue and filled me with pride that somebody was rewarding me and putting monetary value on the work that I had done. 

Money is not the be all and end all and it worth remembering that if you are only ever showing your appreciation for a member of staff through wages or bonuses, you may need to read on. 

8) Celebrate together

I once had a boss who didn’t attend the staff Christmas party.

Instead, she organised a private, invite only party for some selected leaders and members of staff that were in her “inner circle.”

Let me tell you, that was not good for morale! 

Celebrate together as a team. Ensure your senior leaders are present and are there to thank the people who are working on the ground. Celebrate your achievements together

Use every opportunity to celebrate success.

There is a reason that the Formula 1 drivers stand on top of the podium and spray one another with champagne (and no – they’re not just that thirsty!) It is to instill the feeling of joy in their team (and fans) and make the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile. 

9) Performance Management

Performance management - motivate staff

This is another opportunity to share achievements and celebrate together

Yes of course, targets are to be set and assessed but it should be so much more than this. 

Also, if this is the only time you sit down with your employees 1:1 – where have you been for the rest of the year?!? 

A regular catch up with each employee for just 5 or 10 minutes to touch base and be available to support them will work wonders. 

When setting targets – make them challenging but achievable. 

Nothing destroys morale faster than an unachievable target (I genuinely once had one that relied on someone outside of the business – that I had no control over –  completing the target! Safe to say, that wasn’t achieved).

Investing in your staff is an important way to improve both the business and their skills as well as being a fantastic motivator for your team.

Investing in their knowledge and skills base will make them feel valued and will ensure team members move up your company and not out.

Put aside a pot of money for each employee or run in-house training to ensure that staff members receive training that is appropriate for them and their targets. 

Postworks is in the people business, they just so happen to send post! 

Here at Postworks, the management thank their team at the end of every shift for their day at work. Postworks provides lunch for each member of staff at the office and shows their appreciation regularly as part of their company culture.

Each staff member has a monthly 1:1 catch up with their line manager. 

And the banter is top notch!

Postworks loves their people, and they show it!

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