How to enhance employee motivation to increase productivity

Leverage the differences between your employees

Many professional services firms, such as law firms, management consulting firms and accounting firms, spend a significant amount of time and money training and nurturing their associates. As a leader, it's imperative to position your company for growth and profitability. And you can start by reimbursing or underwriting an expansion of your employees' continuing education. Not only will this promote loyalty and employee motivation, but it'll also increase productivity, prepare employees for the next level and broaden their skill sets.

To get a desirable return on investment in this education, ensure that it's tied into employee motivation. Properly supporting and cultivating this motivation can facilitate employee engagement and inspire creativity.

Be aware of organizational issues

According to the Harvard Business Review, "Exploring, experimenting, learning — this is the way we're supposed to live and work. The problem is, too many workers aren't able to partake in these activities because the way our organizations are run is preventing them from doing so." Employees lose motivation due to non-participation, lower camaraderie, a lack of recognition and no clear purpose. To re-motivate employees, it's important to understand what your employees are experiencing.

The full-time employee pool primarily ranges from millennials and Generation Xers to baby boomers. Between and within generations, there are significant differences in values and, consequently, the benefits expected or even required from employers. According to Forbes,

  • Baby boomers are "technology immigrants" who believe in authority and hierarchy and who still want to contribute and learn.
  • Generation Xers are less impressed by authority and tend to view people as equals. They tend to give and appreciate feedback freely.
  • Millennials are "technology natives" for whom technology is integrated into all aspects of their lives. They are nearly always connected, using technology and social media to multi-task, problem solve and communicate.

The C-suite needs to be mindful of these generational differences in order to retain talent.

Implement employee-centric actions

To address multiple issues, create position descriptions that clearly delineate how the employee's job or role ties into the company's overall objectives or annual goals. Additionally, have the employee set annual professional development goals that align with company goals. Not only will this help to create a sense of shared purpose between your firm, the employee and their group, but will also help identify where there may be capability gaps that need to be addressed with training, additional experience or mentoring.

A culture of shared information will enhance motivation by increasing your employees' identification with your firm's purpose. Share metrics or percentages to share your company's financial performance. Provide updates on a quarterly basis so that employees can more readily see how the work they're doing — or not doing — is impacting the company.

Before making major decisions, especially decisions that will impact all or a group of employees, solicit their input and involvement. At the end of a project or other concerted, push toward an objective. What went wrong? What did we do well? Understanding this will help employees and managers problem solve on their own and make them better contributors. According to HBR Ascend, people do not want to be automatons. "We have a deep desire to use our unique skills and perspectives to make our own decisions about how to help our teams succeed." Furthermore, "Research shows that when people identify and use their unique strengths, they feel more alive."

Routinely encourage employees

Everyone wants to feel that they are valued. Make it a management policy to acknowledge people's contributions in groups or in company communication. To ensure that employees are treated as unique individuals, managers should have periodic one-on-one conversations with them. Communicate with them and share information across multiple platforms including intranets and social media.

The more you reinforce that you value their unique skills and perspectives and remind them of the impact of their role at your firm, regardless of their generation, the more you enhance employee motivation and increase productivity.

The views expressed in the article are those of the author and/or person interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of SVB Private or other members of Silicon Valley Bank and SVB Financial Group. The materials on this website are for informational purposes only, are subject to change and do not take into account your particular investment objective, financial situation or need. Since each client’s situation is unique, you should consult your financial advisor and/or tax planning professional before acting on any information provided herein