Motivating the workforce is essential for businesses to maintain high levels of productivity, engagement and job satisfaction. After the last couple of years, we have all had, our people, have taken a mental bashing – sometimes that mental bashing also translates into a fundamental health slip at the same time. To be engaged fully, we need to be fully healthy and well. Only as healthy and well individuals can we meet our full potential.
Ways Businesses Can Encourage and Motivate Their Workforce
Although every business has the duty to make their business as profitable as possible, for now, businesses are populated by people (not robots, well, for now at any rate!) so, we need to provide human solutions on a human scale. Feeding in programmes and initiatives that nurture our people, and although measurement of outcome is important, as important is to encourage the non-measurable, or less easy-to-measure metrics – like happiness, purpose, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Sometimes, companies are tempted to buy into huge well-being initiatives, from a top-down perspective, rather than providing a solution that has been specifically crafted with their staff in mind – having really listened to what is needed.
We spend a good proportion of our time at work, and to some degree, work has replaced our physical community (our village, our town) – so creating community, but being somewhere they can trust and that does nurture and gives an opportunity for health – access to good food, space, and the opportunity for movement – a healthy and well workforce is a motivated workforce.
In order to motivate workforces, companies should look at grassroots initiatives rather than top-down enforcement of what management things should work, or should be good for their people – yes, guidance and structure but then giving your people agency is vital. Graham, the Northern Irish Construction Company has been very successful at this – and at the same time creating community, and a sense of purpose for their people, without it being “enforced” This has been good not only for their employees but also for the bottom line, something that was welcome obviously, but not sought!
Meaningful Work and Purpose
Again, part of achieving meaningful work and purpose is by being well and healthy – but it can be chicken and egg. If you feel demotivated, with meaningless work, and a drifting sense of purpose, then the motivation to look after yourself evaporates, leading to a lack of meaning and purpose! The anthropologist David Graeber postulates in his 2018 book, Bullshit Jobs that over half of all jobs are meaningless, and instead of technology freeing us up, it can trap us in meaningless work, especially if our sense of meaning is pegged to our job.
The solution is to provide meaningful work obviously, but also, a means to empower health, well-being, and other perhaps social aspects of work. Many parts of work can feel meaningless, if your people aren’t aware of the bigger picture, what it’s for and how they fit in – finding a whole approach to how they fit in, can also make sure they stay motivated and engaged. And until the machines take over, that seems like a good plan!
Professional Development Possibilities
Of course, one way to make sure your people are engaged is to make sure that there are good training possibilities, a clear pathway and that people feel like they are in charge of their own work destinies to some extent. It is generally human nature, not to work well, or thrive if there is a feeling of being trapped. Creative, inspiring training might just be the answer.
Clear Goals and Expectations
As mentioned, humans work best if they know where they are headed (goals) if they don’t feel like they are getting somewhere in any sense of the word, people soon feel disempowered. Expectations should be clear and well-defined and not subject to short-term change.
Empowering Health and Happiness
Whilst that seems to be a bit of a nebulous goal, can be achieved by engaging the workforce to define what happiness means to them (grassroots), creating a sense of community, keeping workers in the picture as to what the bigger picture is, and where their contribution lies, giving and training for opportunities (purpose) and then setting clear goals (on how to get there). Lastly, making sure the path is clear, expectations are well defined and any changes in the vision for the company are well communicated to those trying to fulfil it.