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Strategies for Motivating Employees at All Levels

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/24/2011

Most employers and HR directors have to deal with many levels of employees, but what’s the best way to motivate employees at all levels without leaving anyone out? Can your motivational tools be used unilaterally, or do you need a diverse set of motivational tools? Jean Scheid takes a look.

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    If They’re Breathing….

    Not All Employees Are the Same In this ever-changing world of finding the right candidate for the job, employee retention and, yeah, if they’re breathing, they’re hired, a business owner can find himself with many levels of employees—not just job titles and responsibilities, but personality and generational levels. So how does one motivate employees at all levels to ensure everyone actually feels motivated?

    As an employer myself, I think it’s impossible to use a vanilla motivation program across the board—it won’t work; at least it hasn’t for me. To aid those seeking great ways to motivate their workforce, let’s look at how to motivate one and all along with some personality motivation tools.

    Image Credit: Freedigitalphotos/renjith krishnan

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    Motivating Ideas That Work for All

    If you think your supervisors want to go to an amusement park for a day event—you could be wrong. On the other hand an entry-level employee may not enjoy this type of outing either. Motivation via job title, responsibilities or level of employee can be tricky if not researched. You can’t please everyone with one type of motivational reward or incentive so stop trying. Instead, choose one or a combination of the following:

    • Company Outings – You really need to consider them in order to motivate employees at all levels. Keep in mind not everyone may be happy with the type of adventure you plan, but those who are negative about the outing can be swayed with responsibility. Ask those who seem uninterested to help plan the event or be responsible for some aspect of the event like games or other activities.
    • Let Them Suggest – That suggestion box doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Make this easier by avoiding the ridiculous. Create a form that offers types of rewards or incentives such as paid day off, company outing suggestion, or a specific benefit improvement. The key here is if you offer free reign to suggest anything, you’ll get overwhelmed fast, so make a list of choices for them to choose from. Compile suggestions to determine what’s best.
    • The Very Best Of – These types of tools are a great way to motivate employees at all levels. For example, the very best entry-level employee of the month or the highest-achieving salesperson or supervisor of the month, etc. Everyone (even if they grimace about it) loves a plaque that states they are indeed the very best of the best. If you choose this type of motivational tool, don’t drop the ball, and keep in mind it’s best to assign an HR staff member to keep the program running.
    • Teams & Departments – If you have a few departments, create a challenge or a goal each department must meet. Be fair about the challenges—in other words—don’t make them impossible to achieve. The winning team or department can have a day off with pay or some other type of incentive to help keep its members happy, productive and motivated.
    • Training – Employees don’t want to hear they aren’t doing something correctly. Think about this—is it because you dropped the training ball? Consider seminars and other types of training, and training outside of the office environment is always welcomed—it gets them away from the office and offers a benefit.
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    You Want to Give Me What?

    Consider Character Traits When considering how to motivate employees at all levels, you must remember things like generational gaps and personalities as well—you can’t always motivate by using the same program—some of your employees simply won’t appreciate generic forms of rewards. So, one of the following ideas may help:

    • Individual Goal Setting – Take a look at your employees and their personalities. Those who enjoy a good challenge will be up to meeting set goals for a reward whether it is monetary or a paid day off. Don’t force others who may be unable to run with this type of motivational tool. Accept them as they are and let the go-getters fight this one out.
    • Most Improved – Much like the very best of idea mentioned above, a most improved motivational tool that is offered at any level is a welcome reward. Set this up by making a list on ways each job title (person) could improve and let them have at it. Don’t forget to reward!
    • Character Rewards – Who is cheery in your office? Who displays the most all-for-one attitude? Identify and reward these types of workers via character traits.
    • Personality Choices – Although this sounds like stereotyping, a blue collar worker may appreciate something a white collar worker won’t. If you have a team you consider the “blue collar" type, believe me, they’ll want a paid day off over a reward plaque. On the other side of this coin, a “white collar" worker will enjoy a training benefit. If the reward fits the personality and is well received—then it’s a motivating tool.
    • Age Appropriate – Some of your long-term employees nearing retirement age may love a years-of-service reward, where those of a younger generation may want new technology as an incentive. Consider what is age appropriate when rewarding.
    • Diverse Benefit Plans – You will need help from your benefits broker on this one but a company can offer more than one type of benefit plan. For example, if you offer two health care choices with two deductible options or even a single wellness plan, this allows employees to choose what works best for their lifestyles.

    Image Credit: Freedigitalphotos/ jscreationzs

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    Keep Them Motivated

    It is possible to motivate employees at all levels no matter the job title, character or generation. In my experience as a business owner, the biggest problem business owners and HR managers face is starting a motivational program and then letting It fall to the wayside. Nothing shows them you don’t care more than promising something and not following through.

    Along with the motivational ideas mentioned here, Bright Hub offers great incentive ideas as well as rewards that will keep everyone happy. So, start today—don’t put it off—your employees will appreciate where they work more if they stay happy and motivated!