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6 Creative Ways to Motivate Employees toward Better Productivity

staffEmployee happiness matters. Research from the University of Warwick shows happiness at work makes people more productive – about 12% more productive, at that. Google has invested more into employee support, and employee satisfaction has risen by 37%. The bottom line is, people perform better when they are happier.

Keeping your employees motivated is an essential part of a successful business. Paying your employees a fair wage is a start, but it’s not enough. Other factors include: good relationships between employees, good work/life balance, satisfaction with the job, and recognition for a job well done.

Here are six ways to keep your employees happy and motivate them toward better productivity.

Make Sure Employees Know Their Place

Your employees should know where they fit into the larger picture, and how they play role in the grand scheme. Metric and analytics can give your employees concrete proof of how well they’re fitting in and getting their job done. For example, creating a gamified environment can help your employees quantify their achievements, in relation to the company and in relation to their colleagues.

Gamification in a team environment can be more effective than pitting employees against each other in the game. If you’re using an individual challenge, it’s important to be completely transparent about all the scoring and who is where, so as to keep all employees on the same page. It can breed anger and resentment if employees believe there is one person or a small group of people who are at an advantage over the rest according to gameffective.com.

Redesign Your Office

If you have the budget, consider making some changes around the office in terms of decor and furniture. Studies have shown everything from the color on the office walls to the amount of natural light available, to furniture used can impact productivity.

According to a 2011 study, the color red on office walls could cause issues with focus. It not only increases the speed of reactions, but also the strength, at a level most people are not aware of. At first, this could seem like a good thing, but typically this causes distraction and worry, which can drain mental resources faster. Another study revealed using the all-white approachcould make the office feel more like a hospital, which feels more intimidating, which is not ideal for productivity. Instead of going for bold and bright, opt for something more subtle and subdued. Softer colors are not as hard on the eyes making it easier to concentrate.

If painting your office is not an option, make use of color wherever you can, and include blues and greens where possible, because these colors are particularly calming.

If possible, let natural light in. At the least, change the lightbulbs the office uses to better mimic sunlight. Studies show those who work in an office with windows get 173% more white light exposure during work hours, and as a result sleep an average of 46 minutes long per night compared to those who work in windowless offices. Those who worked in offices without windows reported lower scores on measures of quality of life, and poor outcomes with efficiency and quality of sleep. Artificial light bothers the circadian rhythms, which promotes better sleep, and in turn, more productivity.

Invest in ergonomic furniture. This combined with effective use of space could lead to productivity increases of up to 64% according to research from New Zealand.

Exercise Breaks

The same research out of New Zealand showed that by encouraging employees to take exercise breaks throughout the day, there was a 25% increase in overall productivity. Provide a list of small and easy exercises to do at the desk or around the office – as simple as getting up to walk a few laps around the desk.

Add Plants

Add some plants around the office, and encourage employees to bring their own plants to their offices and/or cubicles. Studies show adding a little greenery to the office helps decrease stress while improving productivity by up to 12%.Plants work to purify the air in the office, and several species are easy to keep alive if employees are worried they have a black thumb, rather than a green one.

Follow Through

If you say something to an employee, follow through with it. Dr. Noelle C. Nelson’s research shows that good managers are those who keep their promises and put employees first. For instance, the CEO of Alcoa Ltd, an aluminum company, dedicated himself to employee safety as his only priority. He was not only able to reduce the accidents among employees, but also to improve productivity.

Unlimited Vacation

It’s not necessarily the right move for your company, but many tech giantsare making it work. Companies such as Netflix, Twitter, Prezi, InsightSquared, and The Motley Fool, all offer “unlimited” vacation policies. Of course employees cannot take half the year off and get paid for it, but it works because it gives employees the time they need to recharge – lending to more productivity at work. Research shows the more someone works, the less productive they become. Many times, employees respond by carefully planning how they’ll take their time off and still get all of their work done.

Happy employees are productive ones, but try not to make too many changes at once. It could overwhelm the employees to deal with so many different changes in process and policy. Try organizing a meeting with everyone to learn more about what changes they would like to see, and then do your best to make them work.

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