5 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your Employees in 2021

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

Company culture matters. As the “soul” or “personality” of an organization, company culture can make a difference in everything, from worker productivity to long-term employee retention. A positive culture can turn a workplace into a place where employees genuinely want to return every day.

A negative culture can send employees running for the hills, burned out, and looking for a new start.

A Deloitte survey found that 94 percent of business executives and 88 percent of employees believe that having a “distinct workplace culture” is the key to a company’s success. How can you build a positive culture in your workplace? Finding new ways to inspire and motivate your employees can go a long way toward creating a positive, friendly environment where job candidates want to work and current employees want to stay.

Here are five ways to start driving higher employee morale in 2021.

1. Give Out Awards

Seventy-nine percent of employees who quit their jobs say that lack of appreciation is one of the significant factors behind their decision. People want to feel seen and appreciated for their hard work. Finding fun ways to honor the top performers in your business not only helps keep those employees engaged and working hard, but also encourages everyone else to work a bit harder.

Adopting monthly, quarterly, or yearly awards for exemplary employee performance—and making employees feel special with banquets or award presentations that take place outside of work hours—can inspire your team.

2. Enjoy Shared Meals

Sharing meals is a tradition that families have observed for countless generations. There are many reasons for this tradition’s universal appeal, including the fact that a shared meal is a chance to bring people together, build or maintain relationships, and create new memories. The same benefits that apply to families can apply for work teams.

Catered lunches at the office, after-work dinners or cocktail hours, quarterly “morale” activities that involve a meal—these are just a few of the ways that you can bring your team together to break bread. Rather than talking about work, encourage fun and less formal conversations. Employees who are friends with their co-workers (and even their bosses) will often work harder, feel happier about their work, and be less likely to seek other opportunities.

3. Start Social or Athletic Clubs

According to this CNBC article, 70 percent of employees view having friends at work as the single most critical element to happy work life. Those friendships might start at work or at an employee gathering, but they can become significant and genuine friendships beyond the workplace, too.

Companies can promote employee connections by starting or encouraging social or athletic clubs. From book clubs to yoga clubs to running clubs, there are many different forms that this kind of engagement can take. Offering a variety of programs helps involve employees regardless of their interests, and encourages broader adoption and engagement.

4. Revisit Your Benefits Package

With the national unemployment rate hovering at record lows, employers are competing more fiercely than ever before to recruit and retain top talent. Not only has this job market pushed employers to up their salaries, but it has also driven companies to take a second look at their benefits packages.

Great benefits are a way to show your employees that you value them, whether through better healthcare benefits, longer family leaves for new parents, more vacation time, flexibility with job hours or remote work arrangements, or tuition reimbursement and repayment plans. All these benefits and many others can help employees feel that their needs are met—something that can drive productivity and inspire.

5. Recommit to Supporting a Safe Workplace

Nothing can destroy workplace culture as quickly as a safety threat. If employees don’t feel safe at work, then nothing else matters. They can’t focus on work, which impacts productivity.

They don’t develop strong, positive relationships with their co-workers, which destroys their sense of community and belonging. They have no reason to stick around and will likely start looking for a place where they do feel safe, comfortable, and valued.

As an employer, it is your job to make sure the workplace is safe so that all the other aspects of positive company culture can take root.

Use 2021 as an opportunity to recommit yourself to absolute workplace safety. Revisit your policy for vetting new hires and make sure that you are covering all the bases with your background checks, including expanding your screening strategies in areas where you may have gaps. At the same time, look out for threats that may already be inside the walls: audit the corporate sexual harassment policy and make sure that you are doing enough to educate employees on appropriate workplace conduct, and investigate reports of harassment or assault.

Conclusion

An influential company culture doesn’t appear overnight. It takes work, commitment, and focus from leaders and managers to turn your workplace into a place where people want to be. The five strategies above will help you build a foundation as you focus on employee inspiration, motivation, safety, and happiness in 2021 and beyond.

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