If you want to motivate employees, you need to give them interesting and challenging tasks. But what if the job itself is repetitive or boring? What if the job requires little creativity and decision making? How do you find ways to motivate employees whose job is to pack bags or pour concrete day in, day out?
That’s the question we’re going to explore today, because like it or not, these jobs do exist even in a highly technical work force- just look at the smartly dressed paper pushers in your office.
Before anything else, I should emphasize that job expansion or giving additional tasks doesn’t automatically qualify as job enrichment, which is giving challenging or more exciting tasks. Consider this; a supermarket clerk is tasked to keep shelves fully stocked. Do you really think adding the weekly inventory to his work will excite him? No, it’s just another mind numbing, tedious task that’s not really different from putting supplies on the shelf.
Bottom line: No one would be happy to find out that you’ve just added more mundane work to his already boring day.
Add Spice to Boring and Repetitive Jobs by:
- Change the routine: If the job doesn’t have to be done in a specific order, give employees the freedom to choose the order of work. This doesn’t give them creative freedom to do things in their own way, but it does provide a bit of flexibility.
- Set them on the right direction: Do you know anyone who’d be happy doing the same mundane job for the rest of his life? Of course you don’t. Provide employees, even those at the lowest ranks, with a chance to move up by offering training, certifications and opportunities for advancement. Make it clear that they will be provided equal opportunities for promotion.
- Encourage undergrads and non degree holders to attend night classes paid for or subsidized by the company.
- Cross train employees: This is one of the best ways to motivate employees because it’s a win-win for both parties. The employee learns new skills, experiences working in a new environment and gets paid for doing something else. The organization’s workforce, on the other hand, becomes more flexible, such that staff could be moved from one department to the other in case someone resigns or calls in sick.
Most importantly, be honest and try to connect with them on a human level. Don’t butter them up by insisting that the job is exciting and full of possibilities, when it really isn’t. That’s just fake and it’s easy to sense you’re just saying that because you don’t know other ways to motivate employees. Instead of sugar coating, tell them how things are and then ask for suggestions… “I know your work may seem dull and monotonous. That’s just the nature of the job so you’ll have to accept that for now. Is there anything I can do to help make the job more interesting or challenging for you? Saying this shows that you care and you’re open to ideas.