MOTIVATING EMPLOYEES can sometimes be an uphill battle, especially if you employ people from the younger generations (not always), or if the work you’re having your employees do is boring, monotonous, or otherwise unpleasant. It’s human nature to avoid the unpleasant so as their boss, it’s up to you to motivate them into performing well.

Punctuality can be a really frustrating thing for employers. If you live in an area that has troublesome traffic conditions or bad weather for several months of the year, it can be hard or may seem a little harsh to harp on your employees about showing up to work exactly on time. Look at it this way, though: did you get to work on time? If you can, why can’t they? If five employees show up ten minutes late, five days a week, if they each make $15 per hour, you’ve just paid out $63 for literally nothing. $63 doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s $250 per month, or $3,000 per year; and that’s just for five people, ten minutes late!

The moral: either they can learn to get there early, or other arrangements should be made. Why should you pay out-of-pocket for your employees’ punctuality failures, especially when you managed to get there on time, yourself? The reality is that it’s not so much about the money as it is about the attitude. While money is important, if you allow your employees to cut corners one way, they’re going to think it’s okay to do it all the time. I can assure you that if you want to stay in business in this economy, that’s not the type of environment you want to foster, especially on your dime. Below are a few ideas to get the most out of your employees while they’re at the office.    

Encourage 10-minute breaks: The key here isn’t in the number of minutes. Five or fifteen minutes does the job, too. This idea might seem contradictory to what I just said about punctuality, but another performance motivator to take into consideration is boredom and fatigue. A quick stretch or allocated time to refill a coffee cup or chat with coworkers will work wonders on your employees’ focus and productivity for the remaining time they’re at work. Remember, you control their hours and pay scale, so adjust both of those facets so that the company doesn’t lose money from this. Six ten minute breaks per day easily equates to an hour, which easily equates to paid time.  

Another option is a simple punch clock. Pay them for the exact time that they are actually working. This might seem old fashioned, but the concept still holds true, today. Tell your employees that it benefits them because they will be fairly compensated for the ‘hard work” that they put in. Can’t really argue with that from either direction.

Block non work-related sites during work hours: This will benefit you in multiple ways. For one, it will keep your employees off of Facebook and while they are supposed to be working, but it will also free up all the bandwidth they are eating up, thus causing everyone else who is using the Internet for work to be more productive. This action can be accomplished through a simple adjustment to your network’s firewall settings.

Think outside the job description: Sometimes, all anyone needs to jump-start their performance is a tasking adjustment. As a boss, no one expects you to play the cup game with your employees’ tasks, but getting creative and playing off of your employees’ talents could pay off dividends for you. Here’s where knowing your employees personally really pays off.

Don’t be afraid to reward positive performance (especially if you’re already paying for the opposite): Occasionally, employers are hesitant to reward positive performance because they don’t want to be accused of favoritism or prejudicial activity. Here’s what I have to say about that: if you have an employee who is setting an example and going above and beyond and having a positive impact on the organization, I think that by not rewarding them, you are setting a bad example. Don’t be afraid of giving credit where credit is due; if an inquiry results, use your rewarded employees’ positive performance as tangible evidence. Just ensure that if you reward one employee for their performance, that you equally reward everyone who executes a commensurate performance.

Set a good example, yourself: Remember that as the employer, you are essentially responsible for everything your organization does or fails to do. While your employees work for you, it’s hard to argue negative performance when you don’t perform yourself. Your employees look up to you and if you choose to play an inactive role, well, that’s on you. I can tell you from experience that if you have an office at your company and seldom use it, your employees won’t respond well to it. If you feel like you’ve done your time at the helm and want to take a more inactive role, that’s fine, just ensure that someone is there running the show and monitoring performance.