Front-line workers are often the unsung heroes of a company, yet they are also the most likely to feel overlooked and not valued. For businesses experiencing high levels of turnover, it is mostly due to burnout and managers who treat their employees as interchangeable and lucky to have a job.
A recent article from Fast Company states that “To compete in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, leaders must inspire their people with a strong and achievable vision, an inclusive culture, personal growth opportunities, and competitive rewards.”
Stephen M.R. Covey, author of Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others, was quoted in the article as saying, “An inspired employee comes to work lit up about what they’re doing because they feel they matter, their work matters, and the impact they’re having matters. What burns people out is when they don’t have a sense of the impact or contribution and that it matters.”
Motivating employees can be a challenge. Motivation is something that is always fluctuating. Some days we may be inspired and working incredibly efficiently, while on other days, we may be struggling to find the creativity or the energy to put forward our best work.
It is possible that for many front-line workers, their lack of motivation isn’t because they are uncommitted to the company or don’t enjoy their work. They likely are driven by intrinsic motivation such as satisfaction from completing a project, enjoying creative tasks, appreciating a challenge, and genuine passion for the task at hand.
What could be lacking is extrinsic motivation – while not necessarily solely focused on financial motivators like pay or bonuses, extrinsic motivation could be sought simply to feel recognized and appreciated. Some employees are seeking independence and autonomy that empowers them to grow in their position and feel respected.
Another way front-line workers can be inspired and motivated is by increasing competencies. When an employee feels “stuck” doing the same tasks day in and day out, they can feel demoralized.
Strong managers who foster frequent communication with their employees are able to better recognize times when an employee may need some additional attention, or the simple act of open communication provides a pathway for the employee to share when they are frustrated and lacking motivation.
Managers can engage front-line workers by:
- Checking in often
- Evaluating frequently
- Fostering two-way communication
- Recognizing accomplishments, big and small
- Offering opportunities for skill development and professional growth
Managers seeking to drive retention must show their front-line workers that they are valued and offer ways for them to feel motivated, empowered, competent and respected.
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