Every employee loses interest in their work from time to time, but a persistent lack of enthusiasm can seriously affect both individual productivity levels and the larger staff culture. As a small business manager or boss, it’s in your best interest to get your employees’ motivation levels back up and running after a lull – or better yet, to implement proactive measures which guard against laziness in the first place. We’ve put together a list of best-practice tips to help you deal with your unmotivated employees.

  1. Individualised attention

Many employees lack motivation because they feel undervalued in the workplace, or because they’re questioning their career trajectory and job position. One of the great things about being a small business owner is that you can really get to know your employees and to address those issues before they become unmanageable – so why not take advantage of the lack of bureaucracy between you and your workers to identify yourself as a supportive and motivating boss?

Make it a point to establish communication lines, to familiarise yourself with each of your employees’ skill-sets, and to extend an open coaching invitation to employees who are struggling either with their work or outside of it. It’s not your job to be a counsellor, but sometimes all that’s needed to motivate difficult employees is a little bit of personalised attention and understanding.

Work-wise, position each new task or project as an opportunity for your employee to shine. Assigning tasks according to each worker’s interests and skills will do wonders for workplace enthusiasm. Moreover, rather than delegating these jobs over email, set up a one-to-one meeting over coffee so that you can emphasise your employee’s value at the same time as you keep the business on track.

  1. Team-building

One of the top de-motivators in the workplace is isolation. If an employee doesn’t feel comfortable and supported in a team environment, then they won’t reap the interpersonal rewards that are essential to maintaining a healthy working life.

In order to motivate employees and to increase productivity, put together a regular schedule of team-building activities to get everyone bonding both inside and outside of working hours. For some activities which are both cost-effective and actually fun, try a book club, set up a BYO baking or cooking lunch every month, or set up an office gym where different staff members can lead their fitness session of choice every few days. Events which are family-friendly are also a winner, especially around the holiday season, so send invitations out for a casual weekend picnic in the park, or set up an office movie night if you’ve got a projector on hand.

For team-building activities which facilitate work and improve working relationships, organise lunch discussions which bring people from different sectors together, and ensure that the collaboration spaces are comfortable and well-stocked with food and drink.

  1. Be clear about goals

Nothing feeds employee laziness like a lack of forward-thinking, so get your team working towards short- and long-term goals in order to keep productivity consistent and deadlines met. Meet on a semi-regular basis with each of your employees to establish new targets, to go over existing ones, and to perhaps offer incentives or rewards for goals that have been attained. Online tools like Trello, Hubstaff and Google Calendar make keeping a digital record of milestones and achievements easy.

Lastly, conferences –  and especially ones which require travel – can function both as a reward and as a fantastic way to refine your employees’ individual goals in a stimulating and collaborative environment. Getting your unmotivated employees out of the workplace for a spell can often be the best way to re-energise them back into it.

About the Author: 

Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand. She is very keen on productivity and believes that team building is paramount to a team’s success. She is working with venues for corporate events and functions.