Theory in Practice: A Guide to Inspiring Demotivated Staff

Theory - business seminaTheory

Are you the CEO or Director of a business that suffers from demotivated staff? If you’re unsure, be honest with yourself when reading the following questions:

Are your staff easily distracted?

Do they rarely exceed expectations?

Do you ever get the feeling that they see their job as a necessary evil?

If you answered yes to any of these, or even acknowledged that some of your employees fit into all of the above, it’s time to mix things up. Although change can be frightening, especially with an already established business, it will benefit you in the long run. Several studies have proved that having driven and ambitious employees will help drive your business into the lead in your sector. Here is a guide of ideas for motivating your staff, looking at theories and examples from the best academics and businesses:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Motivation

If you can’t identify what your business culture needs to change for the better, then you should apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s theory operates by segmenting people’s needs and desires into five brackets: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. The only way to encourage workers to reach the top bracket, ‘self-actualisation’, problem solving and authenticity is to help your employees along the other rungs of the ladder first. The theory might sound woolly, but it does actually work, with businesses such as Google using the model to motivate their staff.

Google is voted as the best place in the United States to work – but how do they do it? The world renowned business keeps employees happy by ‘strip[ping] everything that gets in our employees way’ (Google, 2009). They don’t just give employees incentives like gym membership. They actively promote flexibility and health by giving staff members’ insurance, flexible spending accounts, tuition reimbursement for their family and even free holidays! Our favourite Google perk, however, is that 20 per cent of their employees’ time can be used on their own individual project, away from the work that has been set by a manager. As a result, over 20 per cent of Google product launches were created during their employees’ personal development time in 2009.

Theory - maslow's hierachy of needs

[Image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is copyrighted by E8 Album HQR Initiative via Flickr]

Praise & Reward

Richard Branson once said:

‘When you lavish praise on people, they flourish; criticise and they shrivel up’[1]

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t hold employees accountable, but a lack of praise will definitely affect staff adversely. Here are some ideas of how to reward your staff if you’re a little stuck:

–        Have an employee of the month. The winning prize? The prime parking spot.

–        An awards evening quarterly, with lavish prizes. If you have a bigger organisation, (read: if you can afford it), then give the winner of the award a cash bonus.

–        Make some noise about achievements and identify when someone has done something outstanding by sharing it publically with the rest of the team.

–        Have a Christmas party every year without fail and make sure that you employ an event organiser (like this one), to make an excellent impression on your staff. A free bar would be a welcome incentive, so make sure to budget for that when you plan out the event.

Regular Training

Have you ever stepped aside and taken a critical look at the way that you train your staff? Sometimes employees cannot meet the standards of their managers because they have not had adequate training. Without interactive learning, staff members will feel disheartened, leading to disengagement during training meetings and events, wasting the company’s time. One of the best ways of ensuring that your employees gets the most out of learning, is to hand it over to an external HR expert. If that isn’t an option for you, here are ten ideas of how to engage employees during learning sessions, written by Kristin Caplice, Human Resources guru (located on the Corporate Responsibility website).


[Image of Business Seminar is copyrighted by marketrumba via Flickr]


[1] From an article by Carmine Gallo ‘Seven Ways to Inspire Employees to Love Their Jobs’ (see the rest of the article here)

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