When team members have a great time at work and aren’t a part of your company just because of the money, they are going to be more productive in general. As the CEO, it’s your job to create and maintain a healthy working environment for your employees and make sure they enjoy those 40 hours they spend with you every week.
Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart, always says this to his employees:
“There is nothing I like better than hearing about your jobs, your ideas, your hopes and dreams, and frustration, and listening to how we can make your lives easier.”
The best part is though, that he not only hears, but also listens and acts accordingly. He made it possible for each Walmart store in the U.S. to have their own radio with a real DJ, instead of listening to the same old songs every day for hours.
One important thing to realize is that each company is different in its own right, has a different culture and its own dynamics. CEOs can’t possibly know about every little interpersonal relationship that is going on between employees, and honestly, there is no need for that. Many of the most hostile actions that are taken by employees towards other employees, are largely done to try and win the favor of their boss.
This is why it’s important to show the same attitude towards everyone, treat everyone equally and honestly, avoid favoring somebody over the rest and being aware of the worst performing employees. If you can manage to understand why they underperform, you will have a chance to not only improve their productivity, but find ways to boost the whole workplace.
1. Allow personal dress code
Formal corporate dress codes are outdated and should rest on history book pages. Enforcing certain dress codes onto your team members adds unnecessary restrictions that will definitely leave their mark on your team motivation and their ability to express themselves freely at the office.
You want to encourage everybody to perform at their maximum, including generating the wildest ideas, which could turn out to be the next big thing for your industry. If employees aren’t even free to dress however they like at the office, what makes you think they will be inclined to share their ideas with you in the first place?
That being said, everything should be done within reason. You definitely don’t want nudists walking around your office even if they feel most motivated about their work in their nude state. Additionally, you have to think about your brand: you can’t let your employees dress in a way that will compromise your company reputation.
2. Invest in learning and development
L&D opportunities have recently become a top priority for most employees around the world and, in some cases, are even considered more important than annual salary. The competition is very tight in every industry and to keep up with it, continuous improvements of existing skills and knowledge is a must for every professional.
Invest into free training programs for your employees and show them that you care about their careers. Online training courses are some of the most cost efficient and effective ways to deliver the right training to each employee.
Moreover, online training courses offer the opportunity to personalize learning content and tailor it to each specific department’s needs and wants. This will make even bigger impact in terms of motivation and productivity, since all people love a personalized approach.
L&D will also help reduce employee turnover rates and save you tons of cash in the long run. It can take a ridiculously large amount of money to replace a single employee and, given the fact that the number one reason for employees leaving their current jobs is lack of education and development, you definitely can (and should!) prevent it.
3. Allow a certain amount of creativity and autonomy
It’s generally better to give employees some autonomy and a chance to solve problems in their own way, rather than have a standard procedure that they have to undergo each time they are faced with difficulties.
For example, when there is a missed deadline, instead of having to report to the project manager and look for his guidance on how to proceed, team members can choose to devote a bit of their personal time and fix everything.
In their case study, SalesForce, one of the market leaders in Cloud Computing industry and a robust CRM provider, reveals that providing customer facing employees with autonomy and allowing them to make their own decisions with each person is one of the key factors of business success.
This kind of autonomy will boost employee morale and productivity. Think yourself for a moment: how many times have you come up with a creative solution to a problem only to find that a rule in the company policy doesn’t allow you to implement it?
Encourage creativity, don’t restrict it.
4. Be open and approachable
Make sure to let every team member know that while you are still the CEO, you are not a tyrant. You are a human being, just like them, and they can contact you whenever they feel such a need.
Additionally, make sure that all employees feel a part of something bigger than the tasks they perform every day. Being a part of something bigger ads a sense of commitment and people are generally more inclined to put in the sweat and tears for that bigger idea. A recent study found out that being able to express ideas freely and feeling “a part of something more” is one of the most important factors in boosting team motivation.
5. Offer incentives and customize those
It’s important to thank your employees for good work and offer some kind of rewards. You can never go wrong with a nice little bonus as an addition to the monthly salary, but you can get more creative than that.
For example, you can tailor rewards to different people, depending on their work nature and the circumstances related to a particular job.
If there are a number of people you want to thank for the same job, consider their lifestyle and company culture: if they like going out, take them to have some drinks, or if they prefer a quieter atmosphere, organizing a nice picnic is always going to work well.
CEO of Zappos (Amazon subsidiary with over 1500 employees headquartered in Las Vegas), Tony Hsieh really understands how important it is to make close connections with his employees. It is not uncommon for a lot of newcomers to have vodka shots with Tony before and after joining the company. It helps build up a successful relationship with employees, keep them motivated and eager about their work and improve the company culture for the better.
At Zappos, they also have simply great incentive plans for their employees. They run several plans including a Make a Wish program, Bonus programs and Zollars (currency that was invented by the company, which can be used to buy awesome stuff from Zappos). All of this helps employees get through their day to day activities with ease, with a feeling of doing something that they really want to, and not just being in it for the moneyz.
6. Let employees have their flexibility
Let’s be real. Life isn’t straightforward and sometimes people find themselves in situations that they didn’t plan to end up with in the first place. Its ok, its life. For those reasons, allow employees some flexibility in their working hours.
There is no need to enforce anything, as long as they contribute to your company. As reported by the University of Minnesota, over 70% of U.S. workers struggle to keep their work-life balance in tact. This is exactly why flexibility comes in so handy nowadays.
At the end of the day, your goal is to make your team most comfortable and motivate them as best as you can so that they will continue delivering outstanding results in their jobs. All of the mentioned points are excellent (and some of them really important to be honest) ways to keep the morale and motivation high. Experiment with those, but don’t forget to develop your own, unique motivational practices that will fit your company best.