Expecting productivity from an unmotivated team won’t work

Following a double dip recession and now a sense that we might be turning a corner are employers asking too much of their employees?

If you were made redundant but got another lower paid job, have had your salary on hold despite the costs of inflation or were asked to work extra hours for less pay, you might be thinking it is high time you saw the benefits of extra hard work not just the business. Fair enough really. But how as an employer can you keep up the motivation and productivity of your team?

Precisely that, the key word is team. If your work mental outlook is truly that of a team then you are one step closer to seeing through difficult times in business and having a motivated, productive workforce. Employees really value it when a beauty salon owner gets down on her hands and knees and helps with the cleaning after a particularly fraught day. Hard working PR’s really appreciate it when they have had a run in with an angsty client demanding to see themselves in the Financial Times and their boss turns up with a large box of chocolates for the team to share. Web-designers are delighted when time is taken by their bosses to understand what their ambitions are and help is given towards achieving it.

These acts of consideration lead to stimulation of feel good neurotransmitters such as the dopamine system, which is associated with reward and motivation. A surge of dopamine facilitates the energy to achieve goals, needs and desires. Motivation in organisations is key to a successful workforce and engaging employees well can mean the difference between business success and failure.

The message is clear. If you want greater productivity and you need high investment in time and commitment from your staff, it’s vital to properly engage with them.


1. Having an open door policy is a great way to engage with your employees. This will allow them to see that you are approachable and understanding if and when they have issues at work.

2. On top of providing your employees with feedback, you should encourage staff to give feedback about you, both positive and negative. We are always learning to better ourselves and listening will improve our leadership skills.

3. Keep up a routine of weekly or biweekly meetings with your staff. At these meetings you should ensure that staff are fully informed of company plans, new hiring’s, client wins and losses and more. Ask them to be involved in the meetings and to come to them with ideas.

4. Organising a night out at least once a year can help you engage with your employees on a personal level. Let your hair down (carefully) and show your employees that you’re not so serious and can have fun too.

5. Everyone appreciates being appreciated, so make sure you praise your employees when they have worked hard and when they have succeeded. Giving rewards and incentives is a great way to show your appreciation. Never take credit for work that your employees have done, give credit where credit is due.

6. Junior employees can often feel as if they’re not included and the pressures of the hierarchy above them. Where possible cc junior staff in to emails and invite them to join you in meetings. Keeping junior members informed and involved can help enable you to master the art of engaging with your employees and assists in their training.

7. Take time to understand what your employees want to achieve and what their interests are. With this understanding you can help train them in the most suitable areas so that they are able to progress to where they want to be. Try to continually motivate your staff to fulfil their ambitions and help where you can to get them there.

8. Try to eliminate strict hierarchy in the office where it is not necessary. When it comes to lunch or coffee breaks try to engage with your staff in a social and communal area, don’t sit alone in your office.

9. Have a day in the shoes of your employees. This is the best way to have a true reflection of what your employees feel in their working environment. You will better see, from their perspective what does and does not work. You can then make informed decisions to provide an optimum work environment.

10. Give your employees a chance to have an opinion on major decisions for the company. It is likely that they have first-hand knowledge of the day to day running of the business and may have some great ideas about how you and the company could progress.

Dr Lynda Shaw is a registered chartered psychologist with the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine as well as an entrepreneur and author.