In an ideal workplace environment, employees can’t wait to get to work every day and spend the day in high gear, ticking items off checklists and moving the company forward by leaps and bounds toward lasting success. If your employees spend the day languidly sipping from coffee cups and dozing in front of the computer screen, it’s time to do something about motivation. Communication can be an effective tool for boosting employee motivation and creating more buy-in for achieving company goals.
Employees may lack motivation because they don’t feel involved in the company’s bigger picture. Sharing broader perspectives with workers through improved communication can help employees see how their valued work helps drive the company’s mission and profits. Examples of effective communication include explaining new actions taken or decisions made (including why these actions or decisions were chosen), informing employees of ongoing decisions and forewarning employees of impending challenges so that they don’t come as a negative surprise. Meetings, emails and memos can effectively communicate these types of information.
In 2009, the Opinion Research Corporation of New Jersey found that employees were two times as likely to go the extra mile for employers during challenging times when companies employed effective communication. Experiencing positive feelings toward an employing company can strengthen an employee’s resolve to work harder, advocate for the company and cooperate for overall increased motivation. After challenging times pass, the increased motivation levels and “bonding” among employees may help attract new talent to the company.
Communication without credibility won’t serve to increase employee motivation. Employees don’t want to hear about important decisions through the grapevine; instead, use direct communication to effectively explain major decisions or policy changes. Own up to mistakes and don’t attempt to “shelter” workers from bad news about upcoming budget cuts, salary freezes or threatening competition. Increased transparency and credibility gives respect to employees, which improves the chances that they’ll want to invest energy into resolving problems. Maintain an open-door policy with employees to promote two-way communication, including constructive criticism, and avoid directly or indirectly penalizing employees for speaking up to highlight problems or challenges that must be addressed. This will only discourage further candid communication. Instead, thank employees for honest insight and look for ways to help the company improve.
Ineffective communication can have a poor effect on employee motivation, causing negative feelings toward managers and employers, lack of partnership with the company and scarce motivation to work toward professional development. Ineffective communication might include withholding information, presenting inaccurate information, or offering only vague guidance or direction for employer or company performance.