How to motivate employees–during the holidays and year-round

Editorial Team

4 min read
Retail employee folding shirts for display

Motivating employees is a challenge for any business, but it can be particularly challenging to motivate a team of part-time or temporary employees. And as a small business owner, figuring out how to motivate employees is probably just one item on your very long to-do list.

Psychologists have been researching employee motivation for decades, and we now have some very good, research-backed ideas of what actually motivates people and how to boost morale.

Read on for 6 ways to motivate employees during the holidays—and year-round:

1. Minimize red tape 

When people face obstacles to performance that they can’t control, they not only feel stressed out, but they also become less motivated to do well. It’s like red tape actually crushes their spirits, leaving them discouraged and less likely to perform at their best. As a manager, you can help boost team motivation by ensuring your business is adequately staffed, so people aren’t crushed under too much work, and by streamlining your back-end processes so that they’re not bogged down in paperwork. A Clover POS system not only offers efficient, flexible, and fast payment processing, it gives you access to a marketplace of apps that can help make your operations simpler.

2. Maximize opportunities to learn

As the APA research shows, people find making progress at something they care about to be very motivating. Try to give your employees opportunities to learn new skills or tackle new challenges–having some control over how they go about solving a problem can be very motivating. Pay attention to how you talk about these challenges, too. Research also shows that teams that cultivate a growth mindset and assume that everyone can learn and improve tend to be more self-motivated than teams where people assume some employees are simply better at certain tasks than others.

3. Make work feel meaningful

People are more motivated to work hard at something that feels meaningful to them. You don’t have to be a nonprofit to create meaning at work—helping customers solve problems or create a beautiful holiday for their families can be meaningful, too. Again, giving people autonomy helps them create meaning, so whenever you can, allow employees to decide for themselves how to accomplish a task. Clover Customer Engagement can help you and your team get to know your customers, reward the loyal ones, and deepen relationships. And building great relationships can make work feel more meaningful for your team.

4. Set clear goals

Another way to make work feel meaningful and to make sure you’re motivating employees is to have clear goals to work towards. Try starting each shift with a quick team meeting to remind your employees how the work they’re doing will connect back to the larger goals for the business. This could be a goal for the day, the holiday season, the quarter, or the year. What matters for motivation is that the goal is explicit, and employees know what they need to do to reach it.

5. Gather feedback from your staff

Remember, barriers that feel arbitrary or outside an employee’s control can be deeply demotivating. Check in with your team members regularly to make sure they feel like they have the resources they need to get the job done and aren’t being held back by factors that only you as the manager can control. As much as possible, delegate decision-making power to avoid becoming a bottleneck that keeps work from getting done.

6. Recognize hard work

It’s important to celebrate your staff for all their hard work–especially after a busy period like the holiday shopping season. Of course, a bonus can be good holiday motivation, but if that’s not in the budget, look for more personal ways to recognize your team. Thank them for specific things they’ve done to help the business succeed, and praise them for mastering new skills. A small, personal moment can go a long way. 

For more tips to help you recognize hard work, check out this article on how to boost employee morale

A Clover POS system can help you run your business more efficiently–from accepting payments and organizing inventory to managing your team– anytime, anywhere. If you’d like to learn more, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.


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