Motivating employees in the age of burnout

Economic challenges, information overload, geopolitical issues, fear of AI takeover, and more can cause employees to feel overwhelmed and lose interest in their jobs — not to mention the challenges and dueling responsibilities most people face in their personal lives. Research from Mercer found that 82% of employees are at risk of burnout this year. The pace of work can often seem unrelenting. So, what can leaders do to keep their teams motivated?

Motivating their employees and teams is a leader’s most critical role. Depending on a team's needs and goals, there are many ways to motivate it.

Graig Paglieri, CEO of Randstad Digital Americas, finds motivation in helping his customers. “Are we evolving? Are we staying ahead of different trends, whether in technology or the ways of the workforce?" he said. "That constant problem-solving is my inspiration and what I try to impart to my teams.”

Consider these five other approaches to motivating a team:

  1. Create a rallying cry. Leaders set the tone and the charge for their teams. But when employees can’t see the impact of their work or don’t know where they are going, they naturally aren’t as motivated to put in their best effort. Motivational leaders share an inspiring vision of where the team is going and give the company a cause to rally around. This isn’t just feel-good fluff; the vision should be realistic and attainable so every employee knows their role. Employees who know how their goals connect to the larger picture are 10 times more likely to feel motivated at work.
  2. Set clear expectations. Modern leaders understand that clear is kind. When employees are unsure about the details or expectations of a project or their role, it can be harder for them to be motivated. Successful leaders set clear goals, so employees know how to measure success without confusion.
  3. Communicate authentically. Employees don’t want to feel like numbers or cogs in the machine; they want to feel like valued members of a team. That starts with authentic and transparent leaders who aren't afraid to answer employees’ questions, be honest about industry and company updates, and be vulnerable. Authentic communication builds relationships and helps employees feel connected to the company and its purpose.
  4. Encourage professional development. People are naturally motivated by growth opportunities and new challenges. When employees feel stuck in their roles or fear their jobs being replaced by technology or outpaced by their peers, they may lose motivation. Encourage personal and professional development through training programs, networking groups, and mentoring so employees can grow into new roles, responsibilities, and challenges.
  5. Support rest and boundaries. Employees are under lots of pressure, and burnout is common. Strong leaders understand the difference between motivating employees and pushing them too hard. They support and encourage rest and boundaries with their employees, such as through wellness programs, limits on evening communication, and time off. Employees who rest are rested, motivated, and supported to give their best at work.

As the world of work changes, leaders must continually find ways to keep their employees motivated. Great leaders understand their employees and customers to build connections and clarity that naturally foster motivation.

Written by

Michelle Kaiser
Michelle Kaiser

Senior Editor | CEO.com

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