Motivating employees on a shoestring budget

You probably remember how excited and eager your employees were the first day they became regulars. They would always ask questions, study their tasks, and carry them out until the clock hits closing time. However, after a month or two, you would feel their eagerness drop and their performance becomes mediocre. Indeed, sustaining motivation is one of the most difficult tasks of management.
The first thing that comes to mind as remedy would probably be “salary increase, bonuses, and freebies.” However, this may not be feasible and motivating is not only about money. Here are some expense-free ideas that you can try in motivating your employees:
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep things in perspective. For example, simple typos and grammatical errors (unless you are in the newspaper or publishing industry) need not merit a dressing down if it does not really affect the company. Don’t make a big deal out of small errors. A simple reminder would do, but a full blown memo is out of reason, unless the mistake is done habitually.
Encourage two-way communication. No one enjoys being “bossed and tossed” around, even if they hold the lowest position in the company. Slapping them with multiple instructions and workload enough for a computer will surely demoralize and instigate resentment from your employees. Give them a chance to voice out their opinion once in a while and allow them to ask questions about your instructions so that you will know that they understand them.
Limit the rules and regulations. Take a look at your policies and procedures and ask yourself whether or not they feel like something taken out of law books. Although it feels good to have full control and power over the company with your judiciary-like policies, they can actually affect your employees’ performance negatively. This policy-overload makes your employees feel like there is not much room to move around, no room for mistakes and that there are severe repercussions for every mistake they make. Ironically, they make more mistakes this way. Giving them chances to express their creativity, make decisions, and analyse situations (even in simple matters like what to eat during a company lunch) makes them feel valued and gives them new things to explore and discover.
Understand what excites them. Listen to them carefully during the interview, during your company team building, or even during a simple conversation. You will most likely find out what makes them excited, or what kind of tasks they are interested in. This can be your key in knowing how to motivate your employees according to their own unique preferences. One would probably be motivated with free coffee during work hours, another would love being assigned to doing business presentations, and so on. Aside from being able to motivate them, you get to know their strengths and how you can use them in the future.
Delegate. Although it may seem confusing at first that giving them additional workload would motivate your employees, it does. By delegating things you usually do to your employees, you are telling them that you trust them enough that you are letting them do the tasks. In addition, it’s a good way of letting them discover new things in the company, learn new skills, and have the energy to pursue greater heights in the corporate ladder.
Recognize a job done well. Sometimes, it is not about making big changes, increasing salaries, a trip to Boracay, or a Christmas gift pack. Sometimes, it is simply giving a pat on the back, a simple “good job,” a “thank you”, or any other compliments recognizing that your employee has done well. These simple gestures will actually go a long way. People, by nature, constantly seek approval—in the house, in their school, or in the society—and your employees knowing that you recognize and value their effort works the same way. Let them know that all the piles of paper they have processed, clients they have served, and overtime they spent contributed to the continuing success of the business.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-6, Sunday, May 11, 2014. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.