How to motivate employees in the digital age

Written by Andy Philpott the Sales and Marketing Director at Edenred.

There was a time, not so long ago, when people used to talk about email overload as the killer of productivity and thief of time. Sitting in my office, surrounded by people whose smartphones buzz and ping with alerts from social networks and messaging platforms along with notifications pushed through the other apps they use every day. I am reminded on a constant basis of not just of how all these new messages steal team but also make it virtually impossible to hold anyone’s attention in today’s tech-rich digital world.

So while there are many more opportunities to reach people directly and instantly, the challenge of being heard is greater than ever before. For managers, leaders, and - in fact - anyone who works in a team, this is a big problem.

There isn’t just an issue of distraction from the job in hand but also how you can communicate with people to keep them motivated and engaged with  the task in hand. So what can you do to overcome this problem and keep your people on track?

Here are my five rules:

1. Be a fan of facetime

When it comes to work, people work hard for people they trust and respect. That means the first rule of motivating your employees is to be a fan of facetime, not the app (!), but the investment of time building a relationship with that person so you can understand what makes them tick and establish a personal dimension to a relationship. For any manager or leader, relationships are the foundation for motivation.

2. Set clear targets

It’s easy to set tasks but setting targets is a much more meaningful way of motivating people to perform. Setting targets means explaining what you want doing and – critically – what success will look like in terms of timing, outcome, quality of work done and behaviour. Fuzzy managers who are unclear about what they need doing frustrate their people and rarely get the best results.

3. Listen

Working effectively with your team isn’t just about telling them what to do. Listening is a critical part of the communication process. Give people the chance to explain barriers and problems they see getting in the way of doing a job effectively; discuss the problems and talk about how you can resolve any issues. Feeling supported by a manager is critical to getting individuals to perform.

4. Clarify what good communication looks like

There is nothing that demotivates more than poor communication. Part of the problem comes from the fact that managers fail to take time out to set expectations about what good communication looks like or fail to communicate effectively themselves. When you are dealing with individuals and teams, be clear about how you expect people to deal with each other, with clients and anyone else who matters to the task in hand. Understanding when the right time to email, call, text or take time out for the meeting stops any misunderstanding in its tracks.

5. Get recognition right

If you have set your expectations out around what makes for a job well done and the kind of behaviour that makes a difference, then recognising that individual effort in each of these areas is critical in motivating your teams to keep on performing. Here you need to get the basics right: be clear what you are praising someone for, why it has made a difference and - if appropriate - reward them. Do it personally and do it in the moment to have the biggest impact. Technology is your friend here too – social recognition platforms allow you to share praise within teams and across the company.

As you’ll have gathered by reading these tips, the key to motivating people in a digital world is to recognise the fact that it is the human touch which is critical to engendering the loyalty and engagement which is so motivating to individuals and teams.

Technology and digital communications can help you but they can also get in the way and even work against what you want to achieve unless you build the right foundations of trust in the first instance.

Professional Academy offer a range of Management & Leadership Training as both bespoke in-company training with the option of accredited CMI qualification pathways and management & leadership qualifications for individuals looking to progress in their management career. Why not contact us today to see if we can help you with your personal development as a manager and a leader?

Edenred is all about motivating and engaging people and making life/work better. About helping organisations all over the world perform better. And here’s a where you can find out more about how they do that.