Covid-19 has forced companies to change the way they motivate their employees. Lockdowns all around Australia have pushed us into our largest recession in 30 years. As a result, many small businesses have had to cut many operational costs, including salaries. Predictably, this has not been met by employees with much enthusiasm. Fortunately, this provides a great opportunity to effectively motivate your employees in other ways to show them that they are still valued members of your business.

Office perks
You can use office perks to motivate staff, including revamping the design of your office space. Removing dividers and cubicles, opening up workspaces, moving departments next to each other, and adding personal meeting and recreation areas with comfortable and relaxed furniture are all great ways of maximising that community feeling.

Other improvements to the office include installing a coffee machine in the break room and putting out a fruit basket or small bowls of sweets and chocolates. Many businesses go the extra mile and host workplace functions such as monthly breakfasts which have the added benefit of encouraging staff to start work earlier in the mornings, Friday drinks, morning and afternoon teas and even holiday events. Activities such as these can create more of a tight knit community within the workplace.

Recognise achievements
Most managers don’t feel the need to recognise a ‘job well done’ because they believe that is part of an employee’s job description. However a small recognition such as thank you email, note, or mention in a team meeting, can be very uplifting and motivating for employees, because it acknowledges and validates their work. These small mentions can boost self-esteem and create stronger bonds between a manager and employees.

Be sure to acknowledge every employee’s work over the course of a year so that no one feels excluded. Additionally, be careful not to single out individual employees for excessive praise, which can engender resentment in other employees. Acknowledgements should only be given when it is truly warranted.

Experiences
Offering team building exercises and experiences can help create more of a community feeling throughout the employee group and can also boost company morale. These experiences and activities should be tailored to the specific needs and constraints of each company . You could consider hosting a company game night, a group outing or something as simple as a picnic or sports day.

Just ensure that your employees feel comfortable participating in your chosen activity.. Pushing employees out of their comfort zone or safe place can be a rewarding experience for them but if pushed too far, can create a negative and uncomfortable reaction and bring the mood down.

Flexibility
Flexibility in the workplace can be a powerful motivational tool. Understanding that team members have a life outside of the workplace and accommodating for that is a strong way to improve morale. This doesn’t just mean allowing work from home days but also flexible work hours, remote working opportunities and bringing pets and children to work options. This can assist in easing employee stress. A flexible working environment will encourage happier and more productive employees.

Better communication
Strong communication between managers and employees will create a better working environment. This practice gives everyone an equal opportunity to share their ideas and input. Furthermore, good communication will ensure that everyone feels more included and motivated within the organisation. Strong communication effectively boosts employee confidence and morale because employees feel listened to and acknowledged.

Conclusion
This pandemic has changed the lives of most Australians in one way or another. It has pushed companies to think outside the box when it comes to motivating and creating a positive mood within their organisation.

As important as profit is to every small business, creating a positive working environment is equally as important. Managers want their teams to be excited and happy to come to work. There is a very well-known saying; “if you enjoy what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”