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How to Get (and Keep) Employees Motivated

Understanding a few key components can make a big difference. With the uncertainty of today’s commodity prices, everyone wants to know and better understand how to keep employees engaged at work. Well, the answer to that question is quite complex because it varies by person. We all have different reasons why we love to do what we do. Some are motivated by money, promotions, recognition, perks, flexibility/work-life balance, time off, and the list goes on. So how in the world can farmers make every employee happy? Where does the buck stop? Maybe we have been thinking about it all wrong. Did you think for a moment that maybe employees want something more from us? What do they need in order to complete the employee engagement circle?

Can you believe that, according to the most recent Gallup Management Survey, only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs?  “Actively engaged” means they are willing to help the organization move forward, they believe in what the organization is doing, and they believe that the management team can get them there.  Only 29%!  And another 54% of employees are not engaged, meaning that they are mentally “checked out,” so they show up to work because they need a paycheck.  The other 17% of employees are “actively disengaged,” meaning that they are busy acting out their unhappiness and undermining what their engaged co-workers are trying to accomplish.  How do we fix this huge problem in today’s workforce?  How can we get and keep our employees motivated in the workplace?

Tips to improve engagement in the workplace (in no particular order)

1. While it might be hard to believe, employee engagement starts at the top with your management team.  Employees must be able to trust that their management team has their back and is looking out for their best interests.  In 2014, Discovery Surveys, Inc. surveyed several Fortune 500 companies on this exact topic, asking employees: “Do you have trust and respect for your management team?”  The results were shocking: 1 out of 2 employees have distrust of their management team – they simply don’t believe the information they receive from their senior management team.  Why?  Companies were withholding information from employees, not with evil intent, but thinking that information would be relayed to employees only on a need-to-know basis. Problems centered around failure to do what you say you are going to do and communication.  These items seem simple enough to fix, right?  “Trust is a powerful motivational tool and those leaders who are more transparent with their employees will find surprising results.” (Forbes).  Without trust, employee recognition programs will only motivate employees temporarily, not for the long haul!

2. Ensure your management team is aligned and seeking to accomplish the same goals. Employees will feel lost if each manager has his own agenda, as some workers might be held to a very high standard and others might be able to get away with murder.

3. Make sure you have the right people in the right places! Employees want to know where they fit into the big picture. A good way to capture and explain this to employees is through your organizational (people) chart. Also, explain how mistakes affect other areas within the organization. Help employees understand how their contribution plays into your operation’s mission and vision.


4. Establish expectations and hold your employees accountable. Employees must all be held to the same standards. Evaluate them against these expectations on their performance reviews.

5. Consistency – Employees are more inclined to trust individuals in the workplace who are consistent in their behavior. Isn’t it easy to begin questioning someone’s motives/judgment when their actions are inconsistent? Leaders who are consistent with their approach and intentions are those who can be trusted.

6. Communication. Leaders in any organization can never communicate too much. Make sure that you clearly communicate vision, expectations, and goals. If your employees do not understand what success looks like at your organization, how are they ever going to succeed? You will never hear an employee say “I left XYZ organization because they communicated too much!”

7. Recognition – This comes after all of the above-mentioned issues have been addressed. This is used to entice employees to keep reaching for higher goals.

8. Streamline workflow and processes: The excuse “It’s always been done that way” is a thing of the past. Encourage your employees to eliminate unnecessary processes. They are closest to the action and see what happens on a daily basis; using their knowledge or at least asking for their input will show that you value your employees.

9. Career advancement opportunities or plans. Most employees want to do new things, learn new skills and advance within the organization.

a. Cross-training can help assess where interest lies among your employees.

b. Set realistic goals to accomplish each year. When they meet these goals, reward your employees and set new goals.

10. Have your employees complete an employee engagement survey. Find out what keeps them coming to work.

Unfortunately, there are always going to be under-performers in the workplace. However, it’s how we manage to work with those under-performers that sets us apart from the rest! Remember, poor employee engagement will result in absenteeism, high turnover, safety incidents, poor quality and lower productivity.  Don’t let employees take you down! Engaged employees are productive employees.

FamilyFarms Group helps farms deal with the many HR issues that you deal with – and can likely help you as well. 

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Written By

Whitney Fisher

Whitney Fisher

HR Manager

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