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Good Things Happen When You Put Employee Motivation First Are your employees telling you things you're not listening to?

By Andre Lavoie

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Employee motivation seems to be slipping through the cracks for most companies. In fact, the 2016 State of Employee Feedback study from Quantum Workplace found that only 26 percent of 300 organizations surveyed said they prioritized increasing motivation and engagement.

Related: Money Is Nice, But It's Not Enough to Motivate Employees

This is alarming considering that motivation is vital to the success of any company. An April 2015 Gallup study of 7,272 adults found that among those employees who said that their management team helped them set performance goals, 69 percent said they were engaged. The logical conclusion here would be that when employers motivate their teams, team members are more involved in their work.

Communicating with your staff team and motivating them with personal goals, then, can help you create a productive, happy working environment. Here is a look at how some organizations are doing just the opposite: killing employee motivation. Here too are ways to improve it:

1. Problem: ignoring feedback

Many companies will ask for feedback via surveys but never follow up or act on the input. While conducting such surveys seems a well-intended gesture, with no action to implement improvements, the thin veil falls aside and exposes the company as disingenuous.

Employees want to be listened to, not just heard. Providing them an outlet to voice their opinions is only half the battle.

Solution: listen and respond to input

Implement a feedback program. There are several types of processes that are effective at making employees feel included.

A September 2014 survey from Technology Advance found that 55 percent of the 398 employees surveyed said they wanted to work in a collaborative environment. They want to see their input influencing the company.

Feedback programs can include simple open-door policies, where employers invite anybody into their office to offer suggestions, or a team of "feedback coaches" helps employees formulate actionable advice and guide management in finding solutions.

A flow chart is also good for helping employees visualize the life cycle of idea creation, implementation strategy and execution. It empowers those who identify a problem to create a solution and, with approval from higher-ups, puts that solution into action. So, make a flow chart visible for the whole office to see, to encourage collaboration on common issues.

No matter which program is selected, follow-ups are essential, especially when a suggestion is denied. Make it a point to explain why certain advice will not be effective. This proactive management technique demonstrates respect for every employee and everyone's ideas.

Related: 8 Ways to Motivate Employees Into an Unstoppable Team

2. Problem: Failing to recognize employees

Recognition has more of an impact than most realize. If employees don't feel noticed or valued for their contributions to the company, they may lose steam and feel disengaged, a scenario that is epidemic in the American workspace.

A September 2015 study from Achievers found that 57 percent of the 397 employees surveyed didn't feel recognized for their progress at work. How can companies combat the threat of widespread employee disengagement?

Solution: recognize employees

In the 2015 Globoforce survey, 90 percent of the 823 HR professionals participating said that an employee recognition program could positively impact engagement. Indeed, the success of these programs is no secret. A June 2013 study from World At Work found that 88 percent of the 471 companies responding said they had a recognition plan.

Recognition programs can be more than coffee shop gift cards and a handshake. Make your program fun and exciting. Branch out and be as creative as fits your company culture.

Utilize social media and publicly celebrate wins and employee work anniversaries. Host games like office Olympics or ping pong tournaments as a reward for hitting sales goals. Some companies invest in surprising team members with customized action figures and collectibles. Make your employees excited for their next pat on the back.

3. Problem: shrouding the business in secrecy

Employees like to know their managers' expectations and the nature of their role on specific projects. When they don't and accordingly feel left out of the loop, stress takes over the office.

The 2015 Wrike study on work management found that missing information and unclear leadership are some of the top stressors at work. When employees are stressed, productivity and engagement suffer, and some may start to jump ship.

Additionally, most organizations are failing to make their values clear to the staff. The Achievers study found that 57 percent of the employees surveyed described themselves as not particularly motivated by their company's mission.

Solution: adopt a transparent mindset

Transparent cultures are the best solution to problems that involve ambiguity and miscommunication. Review your core values and mission statement, revise them if necessary to make them actionable and share them with every employee. Integrate the message into office correspondence, like newsletters and work emails, and print signage to decorate the office.

Related: 4 Early Warning Signs an Employee Is Losing Interest

Also, create a collaborative decision-making process that includes employees. Host full team meetings and gather as many opinions as possible to get the team motivated to contribute to achieving organizational goals and pursuing the company mission.

How are you improving employee motivation?

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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