Increasing employee motivation is much easier and less expensive than most managers believe. Unfortunately, most companies still don’t get it right though. These five real-world examples show how you can easily inspire your employees.
(25 more examples can be found in our employee motivation manual.)
Managers are busy, employees have too much respect for speaking up, and the company culture is getting out of whack. While many hear about the importance of employee motivation and its benefits to a company’s bottom line, they just don’t know where to start. The answer is quite simple:
What employees really want is respect!
Treat your employees the same way you would treat your own mother. This very simple rule of thumb will guarantee that your employees are motivated and engaged.
There are also numerous measures that increase employee motivation. Inspire your team with our five simple, actionable examples of employee motivation.
5 examples for your team
These five examples and tips can be implemented in your company and are guaranteed to be loved and appreciated by your team.
1. Help for self-development: coaching
Self-development and personal development are one of the most important factors in employee motivation. Employees should always have the feeling that you are growing in yourself and your tasks.
When employees stop developing, being creative and challenging themselves, they start to get bored. Even worse: If they see that their colleagues are developing, but they are not, they believe in personal regression: Absolutely demotivating! As a manager, you should do everything you can to ensure that your employees succeed in their personal development.
"Stay away from those who try to belittle your ambition. Small minds always do, but the really big ones give you the feeling that you too can become big." – Mark Twain
You should also take into account that employees are often afraid to ask for help because they do not want to appear as if they do not know what to do. Even if they have the courage to ask you for help, it is unlikely that you will be able to find the time to help them enough. In-house coaching is a good way to prevent this from happening. Internal coaching has many clear advantages, including the coaches’ knowledge of internal structures and corporate culture, informal rules and internal processes within the company, which enables a rapid and in-depth systemic understanding.
Example of success: In-house coaching of the Tiroler Landeskrankenanstalten GmbH – TILAK GmbH
TILAK GmbH, with approx. 8.000 employees the largest health care company in western Austria. Since its founding in 1991, TILAK GmbH has focused its human resources policy on the promotion, development and security of its employees. A special aspect within the framework of this personnel policy was the implementation of the Coaching and Consulting (‘mcb) department in 2009: This internal department offers employees free coaching and consulting services in problematic professional and private situations.
The task of the ‘mcb department is to provide individual support to employees in problematic professional and personal situations. The offer differentiates coaching, individual training and consulting:
- The Coaching Offers individual support for all employees to help them develop professionally and achieve their goals.
- The individual training serves to develop personality competencies, taking into account special future events and milestones and including personal and professional biographies. This offer provides employees with the opportunity for self-reflection with regard to upcoming professional and private issues under professional guidance.
- The counseling places its emphasis on the personal-family level of the employees. Here, approaches to solutions are developed and found together with the employees.
All employees of TILAK GmbH, regardless of their level of employment and employment relationship, can use services of the department ‘mcb free of charge for five hours per calendar year during their working hours and for an unlimited period in their free time.
After four years of existence of the ‘mcb’ department, it can be stated that the offer is well accepted by the employees. In the meantime, every tenth employee has had experience with the department’s services. The topics and problems in coaching as well as in consulting are as complex and multifaceted as the employees themselves. From the structuring of a learning model in student coaching to all conceivable private, family and professional problems to existential issues and questions of meaning, the range of challenges spans the entire spectrum.
2. Give employees a voice: Feedback
For employee motivation, it is important that your employees feel that their voice carries weight and that they can actively participate in shaping the company. They must have the opportunity to express what is on their minds. Give your employees a way to express themselves and get rid of their feedback. Employees also need to get the feeling that their feedback is being followed up with reactions. Employee surveys lend themselves to this. These should be carried out regularly to provide the most profitable data possible.
Success Story: Employee Feedback at the SELLBYTEL Group
The SELLBYTEL Group, founded by Michael Raum in Nuremberg over 28 years ago, is a global outsourcing expert and recruiting specialist, offering solutions in the areas of customer service, sales, user help desks, human resources, training and coaching, health market solutions and back office. The SELLBYTEL Group employs around 8.000 employees at over 60 locations worldwide, speaking over 45 languages. To implement sensible and efficient feedback management with so many employees, Daniel Losert, Operations Manager at SELLBYTEL, relies on Honestly. His goal of implementing employee surveys as frequently as possible, even on a daily basis, can be achieved with Honestly.
"I need a steady flow of feedback to derive key issues, address them in a prioritized way to improve morale and sustainably reduce sickness and staff turnover – in the long term in operations, not just one-offs. If we think only in terms of salary, we see ourselves benchmarked against thousands of others. But we simply want to make the lives of our employees more pleasant overall." – Daniel Losert
For implementation, SELLBYTEL employees use the Engage app as well as feedback terminals. Using these two tools, they can respond to questionnaires developed by Daniel Losert to get rid of their feedback and suggestions. The answers should absolutely honestly reflect the opinion of the employees, not gloss over anything and clearly point out problems. Therefore, anonymity is crucial in the surveys. In turn, Losert evaluates the information and data gathered from this in the manager dashboard. Using the dashboard functions of the Honestly software, he receives the reporting he needs to present his findings to management.
The investment pays off: Thanks to Honestly, SELLBYTEL has already achieved savings in terms of labor and costs. The sickness rate in Leipzig has been cut in half, which means that monthly ca.10.000 € means lower personnel costs. Taking into account the fewer sick days that occur, i.e. lost sales, this adds up to around 30.000€. Likewise, a massive amount of work is saved.
With the help of the findings from employee surveys, Losert can identify where improvements can be made quickly and with little effort. The employees in turn feel heard and valued.
"Sometimes it costs money to change things. But in retrospect, we were able to improve a lot of things conceptually or. strategically solve what did not cost. In terms of effort, you can already say that you save 10% operational effort, because the tool provides you with everything. In the time one would otherwise hold meetings."
3. Get to work with a smile: feelgood management
Any work can be monotonous and frustrating. When there is too much routine in the work environment, every job becomes boring. Your employees must also be allowed to relax and have fun once in a while. Well-being and fun at work are important factors for employee motivation. So important, in fact, that they are no longer a marginal topic, but must be dealt with intensively and with concrete measures.
Success story: Feelgood Management at codecentric
codecentric AG sees itself as a thought leader for agile software development and innovative technologies in Germany. Their business model combines the know-how of IT architects and software developers with the practical knowledge gained from numerous projects in areas such as Continuous Delivery, Big Data, Performance Solutions, Agile and Enterprise Development. 350 employees at 15 European locations. One of them is Nick Prosch. As Feelgood Manager, he is responsible for ensuring that colleagues have fun at work. In a sense, his success is measured by the smiles of his colleagues. In an interview with feelgood-at-work.He sees himself as an internal staff unit that is primarily there for his colleagues. It is not part of his job to represent the company to the outside world. His focus is therefore on people and directed inwards. To actively work on culture, work climate and the "we" feeling. Its tasks include:
- Internal communication
- Team building
- Facility management
For internal communication, intranet or a large company calendar in the coffee kitchen, on which everyone can scribble, are used. Team events are held regularly, from large celebrations to small meetings. New employees are taken by the hand if no team or project is pending yet and regularly encouraged to share their experiences. The job therefore covers a very broad spectrum – from craftsman to management consultant, there is something of everything here.
The goal of codecentric’s Feelgood Management is to remain a team as far as possible despite growth and expansion to additional locations and to maintain the good atmosphere. The bigger you get, the more you have to cultivate the culture so that you don’t eventually become an interchangeable employer. The "we" feeling is extremely important, as is identification with the company as such, not just the job.
Feelgood management is not about trying to make work as pleasant as possible so that employees will voluntarily work harder. Rest periods and family are also part of feelgood management. Work-life balance needs to be promoted. Too much work, even if you do it gladly and passionately, leads to burnout problems. This must of course be avoided, not reinforced.
There is no precise key figure for Feelgood Management. A person who radiates satisfaction is the best indicator of functioning feelgood management – better than any key figure.
4. Healthy mind, healthy body: health management
Employees work hard. Managers are interested in the highest possible productivity, but overwork is not the answer. Here the health of the employees suffers massively. To be motivated and efficient, the health of the employees is important. Health and sports activities are also important as a balance to the job.
Success story: Health management at BurdaDirect
BurdaDirect is a subsidiary of the media group Hubert Burda Media and part of the business unit Digital Brands National. It is one of the leading companies for cross-media performance around services in the areas of customer management, subscription service and e-commerce. Sales and marketing are combined into a full-service offering for online and offline business models to provide customers with cross-media dialog marketing as well as target group-specific multichannel marketing and customized CRM tools.
In 2009, BurdaDirect GmbH saw corporate health management as a productivity and competitive factor. This is how the foundation stone was laid for the start of a health project with AOL. The "Health" project group was set up to implement measures. The cooperative collaboration in the area of occupational health management is shaped under the motto "turning those affected into those involved". First, a comprehensive analysis was implemented, building on the evaluation of the industry’s annual incapacity data in Saxony-Anhalt. Subsequently, an anonymous employee survey coordinated with the employees and a workplace inspection with short interviews were carried out.
The most commonly named health complaints: Back pain (36.4%), tension, cramping (27.3%) due to monotonous sedentary work.
Under the slogan Colorful fitters in mini format colorful therabands were used for targeted strengthening and stretching exercises directly at the workplace. A total of eight workplace-related back schools were carried out by movement specialists in order to minimize one-sided strain on all employees in the long term and to create preventive, independent active breaks. A health day was also held on the premises of BurdaDirect GmbH with many health checkups such as an exclusive eye test, a measurement of individual stress levels and a trial course in spinal gymnastics.
Employee/staff ownership of health grew steadily. In a feedback meeting with employees at the end of the project year, those involved expressed the following views:
- 85% of all employees liked the implemented project measures
- 95% of participants, of the workplace-based back school conducted, found this intervention to be very important and beneficial to maintaining their own health
- 65% of participants regularly use the compensatory exercises they learned
- 88% wanted the health measures to be continued in the following year as well
5. Encourage experimentation: Improve error culture
"If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original." – Ken Robinson
Your employees need to experience that it is okay to make mistakes and break new ground. Fear of making a mistake stifles any spark of creativity and originality. Everyone should be open and honest about their failures so that lessons can be learned. As a leader or HR manager, you are there to make it clear that failures are okay and mistakes don’t leave irreparable damage behind. Keeping your employees motivated and engaged to keep trying things out.
Example of success: Fuck-Up Nights
The so-called Fuckup Nights, invented in Mexico City in 2012, now serve as a platform for failed young entrepreneurs worldwide. In front of an audience they tell about their failures. In Germany, the event, which takes place in various cities, is becoming increasingly popular. Because it can help change society’s view of failed projects. And it can teach the startup scene what mistakes to avoid.
Although speakers report a serious setback in their professional lives, the mood at Fuckup Nights – FUN for short – is very humorous. You form a community, because failure is interpreted differently here, even celebrated. The framework of Fuck-Up Nights clearly demonstrates that entrepreneurs don’t have to hide behind their mistakes, and that you grow from those very mistakes.
If you have made experiences with the implementation of our five examples, have already successfully implemented other ideas for employee motivation yourself, or if we have forgotten them, we would be happy to find your thoughts on the topic in the comments again.