Energized environments Featured

8:00pm EDT August 26, 2009

Today’s businesses face many challenges, perhaps more than ever before, including fast-changing technology, varying consumer appetites, and threats to brands from the fast exchange through social media networks, not to mention a downward spiraling economy.

These trends are not lost on employers, who are doing whatever they can to engage and motivate their work forces for continued loyalty and productivity.

“Today’s executives are taking the temperature of their employees in terms of where they are and what they are trying to accomplish,” says James Blount, vice president of service support for Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance.”

Smart Business spoke with Blount to learn more about how to build a high-energy workplace through leadership by example and consistent and transparent communications.

How does a lack of motivation from a single employee impact the organization as a whole?

Motivation essentially comes from within, and the lack of such does impact your company to the extent that employees are not willing or able to put their best foot forward. If employees are not motivated, they generally are not as productive as they could be because they’re not motivated to achieve common goals and they cannot align themselves with the goals of the organization. Unmotivated employees can have an effect on other associates and can be quite infectious to the detriment of business or team objectives.

How can a company assess their employees’ specific needs to increase motivation?

It’s incredibly important that employees feel an internal drive to be successful. Much of that depends on their personal and professional goals. Employees’ contributions will correlate to how they advance along those goals. Companies that focus on employee programs that include training, mentoring, community service and employee wellness may fair better in motivating employee productivity.

What are important aspects of a positive work environment?

No. 1 is communication. A positive work environment ensures open, honest and lateral communications with leadership. Consistency and transparency are just as important. Employees who are engaged in healthy communication and receive frequent communication have more buy-in and are stronger advocates of the brand.

A positive environment also allows employees to make mistakes, with the comfortable expectation of correcting them in an appropriate way so they’ll not fear for their jobs and not fear for being human. You should celebrate these opportunities for improvement and celebrate when employees get it right. Everybody should have the same opportunities to have their circumstances addressed in the same way.

What are ways to instill a sense of mission and purpose in employees?

There are several no-cost intrinsic ways to reward associates. I practice consistent praise a great deal because I’ve found there is nothing better than shaking the hand of a colleague and announcing that he or she has done a great job. Peer recognition programs may be appreciated even more than recognition that comes from leadership. It’s acknowledgement from your coworkers that your contributions to the team are valued.

There also are some low-cost extrinsic awards, including perks such as parking spaces or assigning a larger cubicle space. Or brown bag lunch sessions may serve as praise and recognition for associates who are doing a great job.

What are the end results of creating and growing an energized work environment?

It’s very challenging for organizations these days to make sure there is dedication to purpose and cause. But it is no secret that associates tend to support those things they helped create, and they tend to enjoy those things they understand and care about.

Associates who care about an organization feel appreciated, feel as if their opinion counts and understand their place in the organization and that their contribution to the cause will be more productive because they don’t have to worry about making an error that will be fatal to their career, or worry if their ideas are going to be viewed in a negative way. All of this leads to higher retention rates, because people like to become part of success.