Celebrate your own business Oscars

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The annual Oscars awards were big news last week. While most people watch the event for the dresses, entertainment industry bosses use it as a recruitment tool, and a nomination can see an actor's career skyrocket (even if they didn't win in the end). Maybe it's a shameless opportunity for the industry to give itself a rather public pat on the back, but it also fuels the business. Isn't it time that other business sectors followed its lead and awarded their star performers?

With the economic crisis still fresh in people’s minds, staff morale remains low and employees are working harder than ever to keep their jobs; with perhaps no extra financial benefit in the short-term future. Staff motivation isn’t just a nice to have anymore – it’s vital to business success and something all managers should prioritize if they want to ensure the quality of work remains high and good staff don’t jump ship at the first available opportunity. While pay rises may be out for time being, there are other things that can be done to help rally the troops.

Praise
When someone does something well, make sure they are genuinely praised for their work. A kind word goes a long way. The key thing is not to hesitate - if you have witnessed something praiseworthy, you should say so immediately as this is more effective than choosing to wait.

If someone goes above and beyond the required line of work, thoroughly impressing you, why not send a thank you card saying how grateful you really are? The recipient is more likely to continue to excel if he or she knows the extra effort was appreciated.

It might sound cheezy, but nominating an employee of the month can really work wonders. If you believe someone has made an outstanding contribution, it’s good for morale to make a small spectacle of it. The rewards don’t have to be huge – a day off or a bottle of wine might suffice – but the recognition by the management and peers will do wonders for an employee's self esteem. If the budget will stretch to it, you might consider having an internal 'awards do,' where staff are recognized for outstanding achievements - it would be a great confidence booster for those who do win, and it gives other employees something to work towards.

Getting to know you
Try and get to know your staff a little better - and not just as the people who work for you. If it’s someone’s birthday in the office, send them an e-mail saying happy birthday. Also, find out about their interests and hobbies; this shows that you care and are interested about them individually.

If you want to know what motivates your employees, ask them. Bring it up in staff meetings, create a discussion forum on the staff intranet or bring back the trusty suggestion box. This knowledge may just help you when it comes to choosing individuals for assignments and leadership roles.

View staff motivation as a process and not just a one-off problem/solution situation. Business needs (and the needs of your staff) change all the time and require frequent assessment, adjustment, and consultation.

Try to have one-on-one meetings with your employees. If there are too many then this could prove difficult, but it if you can, it’s good to chat with your staff every now and then to see if they’re happy, how they feel they’re doing at work, and if there are any issues they wish to bring up.

Little things matter
It's not always the big things that affect staff morale - even something as small as the office decor can have an impact on how effective people are. If staff are working in a bare, colorless office then this drabness could be reflected in their work. Investing in good, comfortable office furniture and adding a splash of color, pictures, and plants to the office can work wonders.

Social gatherings are also an important factor for building relationships and connections between staff. This needn't be confined to the obligatory annual Christmas party - organizing team activities such as football, rugby, or rounders can really help to make people feel included and can also be a great way of welcoming newcomers. Charity events are another way of bringing people together for the good of a common cause - and also be great fun.

Some of the suggestions are extremely simple to carry out; others may take up a little more time. It’s worth remembering that employees are not just workers; they are people with their own concerns and individual desires and it is crucial not to neglect this.

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