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5 ways to keep your staff motivated and productive instead of bored and lazy


The saying goes: it can be hard to find a good job, but even harder to keep a good employee. This may ring true for many business owners, with employee retention being a real problem for many companies, big and small.

I try to ensure my business is a happy, healthy and fun place to spend our days. A lot of research says when it comes to job satisfaction financial rewards are actually lower down the scale than most people think. Being happy, valued and appreciated consistently outranks money.

I am the first to admit I haven’t always kept my focus on culture and motivating my team, however, I know the financial impact if I don’t, so it is well worth the time and attention.

One of the keys to keeping employees motivated, I believe, is to give them a leader worth following and projects worth completing and never taking those things for granted. Thirteen years in business and I’m still looking for ways to drive productivity overall and encourage each individual’s best performance.

One thing I do always make clear to my team is that culture is everyone’s responsibilities, not just the leaders’. On a monthly basis each person rates culture in the business, and gives examples of what they have done to personally contribute to it.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind to ensure your staff are on your side:

1. Set an example.

It comes back to my point about being a worthy leader and setting a good example of what’s expected. Would you do what’s expected of your staff – it’s a great question to ask yourself. I can’t expect my employees to do anything I wouldn’t do. The key to good leadership is influence not authority.

2. Allow ownership.

It can be hard to let go of the reins when you’ve built your business from the ground up, however, to get the best from your employees you have to allow them to do their jobs and trust in them. Let them know every single person contributes to the bottom line. This will create a sense of ownership that will lead to expectations being exceeded.

3. Welcome new ideas.

If an employee comes to you with an idea concerning the running of the business, it’s not an insult. It means they care. So supporting new ideas and giving the individual a chance “to run with it” can be very motivating regardless if it works out or not. Amazon.com have taken this to a greater extreme: if a Manager says no to an idea from a staff member, they have to write a one-page explanation of exactly why.

4. Internal communications.

As a marketing agency Pulse is all about communicating with a brand’s customers. It’s also important to have proper internal communications, an internal ‘Vivid Vision’ that all employees buy into. At Pulse the team are all an intrinsic part of shaping the vision and principles of the business, and their performance is then measured against these agreed beliefs.

5. Create a career path.

Having an idea or a road map of what lies ahead can be motivating. So giving your employees a career path which may lead to promotion and work towards a goal, will definitely lead to increased commitment to you, their employer, and their job. There are challenges of setting a career path for your team within a small business, as there’s not a very large ladder to climb. A rewards program based around performance and profitability may be an approach to consider.

Lauren Fried is the Founder/Managing Director of Pulse Marketing, an award-winning Australian advertising agency and a regular panellist on ABC’s Gruen TV show. Recently named as one of Australia’s 50 influential women entrepreneurs, Lauren started her first business more than 13 years ago, and has grown into a successful and competitive presence in the marketing and advertising industry. Lauren has received the prestigious NSW Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year award, as well as numerous national and international business, creative and effectiveness awards. She also co-founded the Advisory Board Institute and is an Advisory Board Member of Rare Birds, a global organisation and network inspiring women entrepreneurs. She’s also a Board Member and regular speaker for the global business network Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. www.laurenfried.com

Lauren Fried