Keeping staff motivated is a complex task, but a little appreciation can work wonders at every level of the company hierarchy.
With summer holidays now a distant memory and the long dark days of winter looming ominously, it is often difficult to remain motivated at work, particularly if people feel their efforts are not appreciated. This is as true for managers as for less senior members of staff.
A self-styled 'whinge report' carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and sponsored by HR company Adecco, suggests UK managers are desperate for a pat on the back.
'With efforts going unrewarded and a distinct lack of praise within the workplace, ' the report states, 'it is no wonder that 40% of managers feel exploited, with one in three wanting to leave and work elsewhere.'
A large proportion of the 1,500 managers questioned by the CMI as part of its recent Business Energy Survey cited a lack of direction and vision from bosses for a loss of motivation, with more than half believing their boss 'has no better vision of the company than the tea lady' Mary Chapman, chief executive of the CMI, warns that bosses need to show a sense of realism when it comes to managing the needs of their staff. 'Career progression and organisational productivity are closely linked to an individual's energy levels and if people are not properly motivated they will be less able to perform to their maximum ability, ' she says.
Simply listening to what staff have to say rather than thinking you need to provide all the answers is a good start, explains Richard Macmillan, managing director of Adecco UK and Ireland.
'Also, remember people have a life outside of work; it is possible to do your job well without being in the office long hours. Finally, recognise good people and place a higher value on their pay and conditions, ' he says.
So what are companies in the geotechnical sector doing to boost workplace motivation?
'We try to provide a varied, challenging supportive workplace where all levels of staff are given responsibility and the chance to progress in line with their aspirations and ability, ' says Mike Newton, business development manager of Mowlem Environmental Sciences Group.
As well as providing comprehensive technical and business training to all staff, he adds, the company is implementing the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) best practice model that places significant emphasis on people issues. 'We already incorporate many aspects of this, such as appraisals, staff questionnaires, news letters and consultation information, ' he says.
Keeping staff motivated at any level of a company is a complex task, says Matthew Baldwin, technical manager of Norwest Holst Soil Engineering.
While remuneration is important, being exposed to a variety of projects and type of work is also an important motivator for younger employees, he says, adding: 'Understanding what it is you are doing and why helps employees to be enthusiastic and motivated.'
Senior staff can be motivated by being rewarded with increased responsibility together with the chance to help develop the business, Baldwin asserts. 'Their input and suggestions on operational matters are valuable, and providing an atmosphere that encourages suggestions is vital. Above all though, staff like to feel valued and appreciated.'
While it is perhaps obvious what senior managers can do to improve motivation levels among their staff, taking responsibility for one's own lot is also very empowering.
According to Sebastian Bailey, product director of motivational ideas company The Mind Gym, it is all about believing you matter.
Feelings of helplessness and that you have no control can be lessened 'by working on interpersonal relationships and ensuring you have the right tools for the job' Bailey also advises individuals to try 'managing upwards' Get to know your boss and develop an understanding of how he or she sees the world, then ask yourself, 'how can I persuade them from their perspective?'
Visit www. managers. org. uk for an executive summary of the Business Energy Survey.