It’s Not About the Money: 6 Ways to Improve Employee Performance


As a leader, some of your most important responsibilities include motivating others and improving employee performance. Hiring good employees is a great place to start when it comes to success for your business, but it isn’t the end. You still need to find ways to keep those employees motivated and engaged.

Compensation Doesn’t Equal Motivation

When it comes to motivating employees, one of the first things that may come to mind is motivation through compensation. While this can have positive outcomes – and no employee will ever be disappointed with an increased paycheck – it may not always achieve the end result you desire. Rewards only work in the short-term; employees will work hard to achieve a reward, but may not maintain that level of performance once the goal is achieved. Many studies have also shown that quite often the employees expecting to receive a reward still do not perform as well as those who do not.

How to Improve Employee Performance

If compensation isn’t the ideal method of motivating your employees, what can you do? Here are six alternative suggestions for improving employee performance.

1. Establish Clear Goals and Expectations

Your employees want to know what is expected of them. Be sure to establish and maintain clear communication and set reasonable goals. Consider using the S.M.A.R.T. method when establishing these goals. Make sure goals are specific, measurable, attainable and realistic, and timely. Together you can also determine benchmarks along the way, in order to help keep employees aligned with their goals.

2. Build Accountability Through Regular Check-Ins

A single annual review may be enough for some employees, but not all of them. Checking in with your employees more frequently will create a level of accountability and encourage them to be more productive. Regular check-ins will allow you to provide feedback on their performance, so they can work to improve any necessary areas before that annual review comes up. Many employees will appreciate the opportunity to correct any mistakes before it negatively impacts their performance review. Additionally, you can use this time to provide positive feedback and encouragement, which will help boost an employee’s confidence in their role.

3. Provide Ongoing Training and Development

Employee training shouldn’t end with their onboarding period. Providing ongoing training and development to build increased knowledge and skills demonstrates an interest in the employee’s continued success within your organization. Employees who feel like you’re investing in them will not only be more motivated to perform better in their role, but will also have more loyalty towards the company.

4. Demonstrate Loyalty by Promoting from Within

Promoting from within is one of the easiest ways to motivate your employees, while also helping to cut down on your own staffing costs by not having to interview and hire externally. You’ll save yourself training and onboarding time, while also encouraging employees to perform well in order to be eligible for promotions.

5. Allow for Flexibility

Your employees have lives outside of work and like it or not there may be times when work may not be their number one priority. Allowing for flexibility in their schedule, or even in allowing them to work remotely instead of in the office, will increase their performance by lessening their stress in other areas of their lives.

6. Create a Culture of Caring

Burnout is a real issue among employees, especially these last few years. In order to combat burnout and increase employee performance, it’s important to put an emphasis on self-care among your employees. Provide training on stress management techniques and support your employees where needed, be it extra time off or just the emotional support of a kind word or gesture. You’ll find employees are more motivated to perform well when they’re not feeling stressed.

Sometimes, it isn’t just about the money. Employees who feel like their company is taking care of them, and investing in them and their careers, are more likely to feel motivated to improve performance.

More Leadership Insight

For more tips on how to be an effective leader, check out the leadership episodes in the Culture of Convenience podcast.

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