For business owners, employee motivation is an extremely important consideration, because highly engaged employees are, on average, more productive and more likely to do their job well. Conversely, unmotivated employees are more than twice as likely to take sick days and are also more likely to leave.

Unfortunately, most businesses have a lot of work to do when it comes to motivating their staff, so if you find yourself in this boat, you are far from alone. In fact, research carried out by Gallup suggests that only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, while 24 percent are actively disengaged.

This shows the scale of the task, which is why organisations will try anything, from altering job roles to improving the standard of customer service coaching, in order to build up employee engagement. In this article, however, we examine one of the single most effective ways to motivate staff, which many businesses fail to take advantage of.

Relationships With Customers

In the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Study, 96 percent of respondents stated that they had a sales training programme in place, with almost 70 percent of companies saying that they used manager-led reinforcement activities to try to keep knowledge retention rates high.

What was striking, however, was that only 10.2 percent integrated their reinforcement activities with CRM. Essentially, what this means is that, for a huge number of organisations, reinforcement activities are reasonably dispassionate and disassociated from the relationships customers have with their business.

“Managers do not have the time, or often the training, to be the primary source of sales training reinforcement,” says Jim Dickie, writing for Destination CRM. “What are two things the majority of salespeople use every day? Their CRM system and their mobile devices – which also happen to be the absolute least-used resources.”

As we will come to see, although this dispassionate method of training and reinforcing information is unlikely to motivate staff, taking the opposite approach can do exactly that.

Employees Making a Difference

Ultimately, in order for staff to feel motivated, they need to feel as though the work they are doing is actually making a difference. As Francesca Gino explains in the Harvard Business Review, the best way to accomplish this is to demonstrate how they are helping customers, therefore making future connections more meaningful.

Gino provides the examples of two field studies carried out by Adam Grant of the Wharton School, where both lifeguards and fundraisers felt more motivated after reading stories about people who had been saved by a lifeguard and by having contact with the recipients of funding, respectively. This same premise can work in your business.

Developing your team’s customer service skills and sales skills in a dispassionate way will only engage staff to a certain level. By integrating training, reinforcement and coaching with your CRM systems and utilising real-life case studies of people who have been helped, you can contribute to make the work your employees do seem more meaningful.

When people feel that they are contributing to society in a meaningful way, they are more likely to feel good about themselves, feel good about the company they work for, and more likely to stay motivated.

Conclusion

Staff motivation is of the utmost importance, because a lack of employee engagement in the workplace can potentially lead to productivity issues, an increase in absenteeism and higher staff turnover rates. However, getting your employees motivated requires more than inspirational pep talks and alterations to responsibilities. Indeed, it requires staff to not only feel that they are contributing in a positive way, but to also see evidence of it.

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