4 Ways to Motivate Your Employees

It goes without saying that employees are the life of a company, playing a critical role in making sure your organization stays functional and profitable. As your vital human capital, it’s important to remember that keeping workers motivated and passionate about your company’s goals should be one of your foremost priorities.

Unfortunately, according to a 2013 Gallup report titled State of the Global Workplace, only 13 percent of employees around the world feel engaged at work.

Clearly, the challenge is figuring out what motivates your people. And it’s not just as simple as paying them more money either. Yes, compensation is absolutely important, but so too is something like recognition, which, according to a Salesforce study, is an important motivating factor, so much so that 70 percent of employees would work harder if they were recognized for their work.

While motivational factors have changed over the years, research tells us that many workers today will agree on a number of things that drive satisfaction on the job.

  1. Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is one of those things you may have heard is a big deal to today’s employees. True enough, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report, work-life balance is one of the biggest predictors of happiness.

But work-life balance could mean any number of things to different people. For some, it means having a flexible work schedule, allowing them to work from home on some days or set their own days off.  For others, it means having access to exercise facilities for free. Some people may even want childcare facilities in the workplace so they can bring their kids to work.

It’s here where research comes in. You can read all day about how other companies managed to turn their workforce around and maximized their human capital, but basic HR will tell you that their experiences will not necessarily reflect how your employees will respond to the techniques you might pick up along the way and attempt to implement.

So, before you start making grand plans to create motivated and passionately productive employees, you’ll want to take a step back and assess the psychographics of your workforce.

One way to do this is to send out anonymous questionnaires asking employees about their idea of work-life balance in the company and, as a finisher, ask how they would like to see the company aid them in creating balance between their work and personal lives.

In some firms, first-line managers have regular one-on-one interviews with every member of their team to ask about their short-term and long-term goals for their stay in the company. This kind of personal touch is effective in that it creates the impression that management is ready to collaborate with their employees in achieving their aspirations and assures upward mobility on the corporate ladder.

  1. A Pleasing Work Environment

Grumpy bosses and uncooperative coworkers actually do make the workplace – where employees spend most of their waking hours – unbearable. Having to put up with this takes a toll on an employee’s wellbeing and ultimately affects their performance. The logic is simple: no one enjoys working in a toxic and stressful work environment.

Creating a positive work environment is to create a productive work environment. This is why, regardless of industry, you should work to develop people skills among those in management and invest in regular team-building activities that actually forge bonds between employees.

Another way is to buff up your bottom-up communication – take some time throughout the day to go around and interact with your employees and get their ideas. Not only will they feel that their efforts and presence in the company are appreciated, you’re likely going to find that your employees have some insights worth taking note of.

Last, but not least, is the necessity of an aesthetically appealing office. Research by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the British Council for Offices  shows that 24 percent of people in the workforce reported that their office environment was directly tied to their job satisfaction, Meanwhile, 91 percent of managers believed that the office layout contributed directly to staff performance.

Effective workplace design can come in the form of proper lighting and aeration, comfortable and non-broken office chairs, established spaces for breakout discussions, and even incorporating plant life into your interior, which has been proven to have physiological and psychological benefits in the workplace. These not only make a workplace conducive for work, but they also give your employees the impression that their wellbeing is valued – contributing further to their work lives.

  1. Vision and Company Culture

Aiming for the moon is the spirit of entrepreneurship. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with maintaining or even scaling your business by setting huge annual marks. For as long as these are reasonable and even mildly feasible, go for it. However, you would do well to break this down into smaller goals proportionate to shorter, more immediate spans of time.

Once you’ve set your goal for the year, express this in terms of quarterly goals, then monthly goals, then weekly goals. Doing so poses a number of benefits for your employees. First being that smaller goals logically seem easier to accomplish even if they add up to much larger ones.

The perception that the goals have been scaled down makes them seem less daunting, thus motivating employees and providing them with little but regular pumps of fulfillment. This, in turn, would also have the effect of pushing them to keep up the pace.

All these things come together to create a culture that encourages working together towards a singular vision and goal. As teams work collaborate to reach goals like collective sales quotas and other productivity milestones, team members can develop the qualities and spirit that would enable them to get ahead – rapport, cooperation, and creativity.

  1. Rewards

Building on the previous point, preparing a full set of rewards for meeting or exceeding marks will do you wonders. What you’re doing is banking on the emotional satisfaction that comes with accomplishing goals by slapping on one more thing to be glad about.

Cash incentives on top of commissions are a great way to encourage outstanding work. However, employee rewards don’t have to come in the form of money. Gamifying achievements by handing out badges and other tokens signifying accomplishment work in professional environments, as well as they, do in classrooms. Treating your team out to a meal allows you to reward them and simultaneously provide them with the setting to enjoy each other’s company and build rapport. For smaller or more abstract goals, even good ol’ verbal praise and an accompanying rewarding gesture can make a much larger positive impact than you would expect.

We tend not to take career advancement as a kind of reward, but assuring your employees that every accomplishment takes them one step closer to a well-deserved pay raise or promotion breeds top-performing members in a company.

Writing for Forbes, Victor Lipman recalls that in his experience as a manager, he observed that employees with clear career paths and opportunities for promotion far outperformed their counterparts who were unsure of where they were headed.

Adapt, Adapt, Adapt

These are just a few of the many ways you can adjust your motivational strategies for your employees this year. Bottom line? Your strategy depends on your people, so don’t be afraid to deviate from these suggestions and adapt them to your circumstances. What matters is that your company begins making smart decisions based on employee feedback.


Tabitha Jean Naylor
Tabitha Jean Naylor
Tabitha Jean Naylor is the founder of Women Entrepreneurs Can - a digital magazine designed specifically for women entrepreneurs, startup founders and small business owners - and the proud owner of, a marketing firm that delivers ‘big agency’ quality at rates that are affordable for startups and small businesses. Her intimate knowledge of how sales and marketing go hand-in-hand has resulted in a variety of successful campaigns for start-ups through NASDAQ traded companies.

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