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How to increase motivation post lockdown [it’s not what you think]

How to increase motivation post lockdown [it’s not what you think]

Posted 13th May, 2021 by Sarah

A year worth of lockdowns and Covid-related restrictions has taken its toll on levels of motivation at work.

A recent YouGov study found that 28 per cent of employees had suffered from low motivation during the Covid crisis, with that figure rising to 44 per cent for employees under 35.

Now that restrictions are easing, how can you get yourself and/or your team firing on all motivational cylinders again?

In this blog we look at eight ways to enhance motivation at work.

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Now let’s get to the motivational bit…

1.Encourage brain breaks

Lori Desautels, assistant professor at the College of Education at Butler University, USA, describes a brain break as ‘a short period of time when we change up the dull routine of incoming information that arrives via predictable, tedious, well-worn roadways’.

According to Desautels, quick brain breaks can help people refocus and return to the task in hand with a renewed motivation.

She goes on to explain: “When we take a brain break, it refreshes our thinking and helps us discover another solution to a problem or see a situation through a different lens. During these few minutes, the brain moves away from learning, memorizing, and problem solving. The brain break actually helps to incubate and process new information.”

One of the easiest brain break tactics that you can carry out at a home working desk or in an office is to draw a squiggly line on a blank sheet of paper and to use your non-dominant hand to turn that line into a quick picture.

Another technique, suggested by Desautels, involves standing up and blinking one eye while snapping fingers of the opposite hand. Then repeat on the other side.

Just make sure your colleagues know you’re about to do this if you’re in an office with them.

2. Encourage colour pauses

A colour pause is a focussed attention practice – aka a brain exercise that helps people quiet distracting thoughts.

To take a colour pause, you simply need to visualise colours while focussing on the breath. For example, think of green when you breath in then think of your breath leaving the body in a plume of blue, and so on.

Research shows that quieting busy minds reignites the calming parts of the nervous system, leaving people feeling more able to continue with tasks.

3. Create a communal break project
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Multiple studies suggest that taking breaks from tasks can renew motivation to continue with them.

In an article in Psychology Today, lecturer Nir Eyal explains:

“When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals. But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later on.”

Some people don’t find it easy to take breaks, though. Even if they go to make a cup of tea, they are thinking about their former task while they boil the kettle and fill their cup.

So, it can help to give your team something to do during their 10-minute breaks. Take it in turns to contribute to building a Lego model, for example, or have a team game of Jenga on the go.

4. Avoid the seven deadly flaws of rewards

For years, businesses around the world have tried to motivate their employees with the promise of monetary rewards and the threat of punishment.

However, many scientific studies have shown that the carrot and stick approach can easily demotivate workers.

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us , Daniel H Pink suggests that there are seven deadly outcomes of the carrot and stick approach.

Pink says this approach can:

  1. Extinguish intrinsic motivation
  2. Diminish performance, according to various studies
  3. Crush creativity
  4. Crowd out good behaviour
  5. Encourage cheating
  6. Become addictive
  7. Foster short-term thinking
5. Rewrite job titles

As mentioned above, extrinsic rewards do not always succeed at motivating employees. Studies show, however, that intrinsic rewards are much more effective.

Helping your team members to feel like they are realising their full potential at work can be incredibly motivating.

An example of this comes from Chip Conley, the founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and head of hospitality at Airbnb.

During a staff retreat, Conley asked housekeepers to come up with a new name for their group, to replace the term ‘housekeepers’.

They came up with names like “The Serenity Sisters,” “The Clutter Busters,” and “The Peace of Mind Police.”

In creating these names, they came to understand that their role involved much more than just cleaning rooms. It revealed the real value of their jobs and Conley found that it motivated the group to work harder.

6. Have a green tea break

Research from The World Health Organisation suggests that certain foods can boost motivation and productivity by up to 20 per cent.

One of the easiest of these to consume and offer to employees is green tea.

Encourage teammates to have a green tea break together and they’ll benefit from the motivation that spending time with friends fosters, too.

7. Provide/eat breakfast
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Studies show that eating breakfast can boost memory, concentration, and cognitive performance throughout the day.

And according to The Happiness Institute, eating a healthy breakfast also creates positive energy and momentum in people.

So, offering breakfast to your team – or simply eating it yourself – is a great way to up motivation levels.

We’re not talking lavish spreads here. Just a bowl of cereal and a banana is enough to deliver a boost.

8. Have a gratitude board

Studies suggest that unhappiness costs businesses more than $550 billion a year, because it lowers motivation and therefore productivity.

One sure fire way to up happiness levels – by up to 25 per cent according to some studies – is to practice gratitude on a daily basis.

If you’re back in the office, set up a gratitude whiteboard or a dedicate a section of the wall where people can stick post its.

Gratitude can come from something as small as a blue sky, a good cup of coffee or a traffic free motorway.

Firing on all cylinders again? You’re going to need more hosting power to keep up

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Categories: COVID-19, Tips, Small Businesses

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