Productivity plays an important role in overall business success. To be able to keep things moving forward, you need to be able to motivate your employees to do their jobs and do them well.

Motivation often overlaps with employee engagement. In layman’s terms, giving your employees a reason to want to get things done for your organization is the key to motivation. Here are some of the ways you can encourage your employees, especially during difficult periods.

Be Flexible

Acknowledging that your employees have a life outside the office, and showing them that you find their entire identity valuable will encourage productivity and motivate your employees to work hard. Showcase your flexibility by creating a flexible scheduling policy. As long as employees can showcase that their work is getting completed, give them the leeway to flex their hours and account for special events, caring for an ill child, avoiding a commute during inclement weather, and so on.

In combination with a policy, you can make this process easier by using a smart scheduling program (learn more) and setting key performance metrics and expectations. Some employers allow their employees to work from anywhere in the world, as long as the deliverables are being met.

Create an Employee Engagement Strategy

Ideally, you’ll outline how you will attract, recruit, retain, and motivate employees during the business planning process. However, if your business started as a one-person show, you may not have considered this in the beginning. If that’s the case, readdress your business plan as though you’re starting from scratch (learn how) and implement an employee engagement strategy.

Your employee engagement strategy is essentially a marketing strategy that targets your human resources rather than your customers. It might outline certain perks that your employees will enjoy, such as flexible scheduling or performance incentives, as well as your goals for your company culture. Remember, your employees work for a paycheck and benefits. They work hard when they love going to their job.

Lead by Example

There’s nothing more frustrating for employees who feel as though their manager or bosses delegate all the work and leave early. During busy periods when your employees are working hard and potentially putting in overtime, do the same. If you find yourself caught up on everything, see how you can help them before calling it a day.

Your employees may be your subordinates, but treating them with respect and showing them that they’re equal in other regards will be incredibly motivating for them.

Help Set SMART Goals

Performance reviews shouldn’t focus solely on how someone has worked in the months leading up to their meeting. They should also be a period of reflection and opportunity for growth. Help your employees set goals that they can attain to help them expand their skills and grow. You can even take a whole person development approach and look at all aspects of their life.

When setting goals, look not only at how your employees can improve their current position, but how they can start to learn new things that will help them advance. Have a platform where goals can be shared and create a culture of mentorship to help people succeed.

Create a Collaborative Culture

In many jobs, people work in a silo apart from everyone else. Rather than being able to share their wins and challenges, a lot of their experiences stay inside their cubicle. Even if you have a department that does a lot of solo work, you can still create a collaborative culture.

Have regular team meetings that give everyone a chance to share what they’re working on, what they’ve accomplished, and what challenges they’ve faced. These can be daily brief meetings or weekly, depending on the nature of your work. This is also a good opportunity to connect if you have a remote team.

Remembering to treat your employees like humans and giving them the respect they deserve can go a long way in motivating your people to work hard.