Career Development

How To Motivate Employees in the Workplace

March 11, 2021

It can sometimes be difficult figuring out how to motivate your team, but encouraging and inspiring engagement is important for creating a productive work environment. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can directly influence employee morale, satisfaction and performance. There are a variety of different approaches to motivate employees in the workplace, and many of these strategies can be combined into effective tools to boost productivity and engagement. In this article, we explore why motivation in the workplace is important and how to motivate your teams.

Why is motivation important in the workplace?

Employee motivation can impact productivity and performance, ultimately influencing their quality of work. When employees are motivated and engaged in the office, it leads to continuous achievements and the accomplishment of company, departmental and individual objectives. Additionally, fostering a creative and friendly environment where staff members feel safe sharing ideas and collaborating is important for maintaining employee morale, an essential factor in boosting motivation.

Related: The Best Ways To Motivate Your Team

How to motivate staff in the workplace

Use the following methods to boost satisfaction, encourage engagement and increase motivation at work:

1. Create bonus incentives

Motivate teams with a bonus incentive program. Incentive bonuses use monetary rewards to support employee performance and productivity. For instance, incorporate a monthly incentive for teams who complete extra tasks, achieve company objectives or exceed expectations. Create opportunities for everyone to qualify for a bonus reward by setting different criteria for each bonus period, such as exceeding quota one month and completing training the next month.

2. Offer tangible rewards

Provide ways for employees to win a tangible reward for completing a job above standards or for overcoming a work challenge. For example, a points system that employees can collect and redeem for a prize — like a gift card or free day off — is an effective approach for keeping employees extrinsically motivated.

3. Give positive feedback

Offer genuine praise for work ethic, performance and talent. Employees like to know that their work is recognized and management's positive feedback can boost your employees' overall morale. Additionally, positive praise can encourage employees to maintain the momentum that elicited the praise in the first place so that your teams continue to give you their best efforts.

Related: Best Practices for Giving Constructive Feedback

4. Assign meaningful work

Provide assignments that are meaningful to employees. Discuss company goals and how their work influences the company's growth and development. When employees can connect meaning to their work, they're more likely to be engaged with their daily tasks.

5. Give purpose to roles

It's important to help employees understand the purpose of their role and how it fits into the organizational structure of the company. For instance, you can help an employee who stocks inventory connect purpose to their role by communicating how their inventory organization and categorization make order processing more efficient.

6. Establish expectations

Communicate company expectations with staff members and ensure all employees understand the standards they need to meet regarding performance and work quality. Create a visual like a chart so teams can check on their progress toward meeting workplace expectations. Additionally, maintain open communication to discuss how employees are meeting or exceeding expectations and provide strategies for improvement to help employees stay aligned with what's expected of them.

7. Communicate openly

Encourage employees and management to communicate openly and collaborate. Open and effective communication is important to avoid misunderstandings and foster positive feedback. Additionally, open communication elicits trust between employees and management, which can help employees feel comfortable when seeking advice and support from their team leaders.

8. Make work fun

Encourage staff to have fun at work. Plan celebrations for achieving specific milestones like meeting corporate, team or individual work goals. Schedule time for office holidays or birthday parties to get employees excited and engaged in events in the workplace. When teams are inspired to have fun in their environment, they're more likely to stay satisfied and productive at work.

9. Allow remote work

Consider allowing employees to work from home on predetermined weekdays. Flexible telecommuting options can include scheduling one day per week or even several days per month when teams can work remotely. This type of motivational strategy can support employees' independence and increase employee satisfaction, which can help motivate your teams when they're in the office.

10. Foster staff autonomy

Show employees that you trust them to do their jobs independently and make important decisions regarding project tasks and direction. Provide opportunities for teams to lead new initiatives and learn from mistakes. Showing you value employees' talent and unique skills can encourage autonomy in the workplace, foster respect for company objectives, leaders and peers and keep staff motivated to succeed.

11. Encourage belonging

Ensure staff has a sense of belonging within the workplace by providing opportunities for employees to collaborate and with management. Similarly, take the time to get to know your employees, ask about their career goals and learn what motivates them. This shows your compassion and genuine desire to connect with and support your teams, which helps staff feel like they belong.

12. Provide mentorship

Support staff's development through a mentorship program. For instance, offer opportunities for entry-level staff or new hires to work with a team lead or more senior-level professional. This can help employees gain a deeper understanding of the company culture, goals and values and can help them develop new skills.

Related: How To Benefit From Mentorship Programs

13. Invest in development

Similar to mentorship, professional development and opportunities to learn new skills can have a lasting influence on employee productivity and performance. Consider scheduling meaningful development programs that employees can use to further advance in the workplace, such as training that teaches an essential skill that can prove advantageous for staff into the future.

14. Facilitate involvement

Get teams involved with developing projects, setting company objectives and offering input. Encouraging employees to get involved with processes that are above their scope of work can show them that the company values their input and perspective. Similarly, community involvement establishes an expectation of equality where everyone contributes to the growth and success of the entire company.

15. Offer fair compensation

Research salary averages for departmental roles within a company. Provide fair wages according to experience, skill and qualifications and when employees exceed expectations and show dedication and commitment to their jobs, provide advancement opportunities. For instance, a new employee may start at a specific base salary, but you can offer advancement opportunities as the employee gains experience within the company so that in the future, they have a means of increasing their income along with taking on more responsibilities.

16. Set achievable objectives

Help teams set their project goals and plan strategies to meet objectives. Ensure the objectives you set are achievable within the time frame you outline and give staff a way to measure their progress. For instance, integrate a task chart that outlines each weekly objective and the tasks and actions employees need to take to reach each objective.

Related: How To Write SMART Goals (With Examples)

17. Recognize achievements

When employees complete difficult tasks or achieve a specific milestone, such as a three-year work anniversary, give recognition. Unlike positive praise for a job well-done, recognition can relate to personal goals, milestones and achievements. Recognizing staff's achievements, even personal ones, can give them a sense of pride and boost their morale.

18. Create healthy competition

Friendly competition can get teams involved and inspired to collaborate. For example, consider simple and fun contests such as who can come up with the funniest company slogan or who can go one week without saying "work." You can also create contests around work objectives like who can complete their departmental tasks first. Similarly, plan team-building events off-site where staff can compete in a fun teamwork exercise.

19. Build a nurturing culture

Create a friendly and supportive workplace where employees feel safe and valued. A healthy office culture encompasses creative thinking, learning from errors and collaborating with colleagues. For instance, develop employee-led performance evaluations that encourage staff to identify the areas they feel they need to improve. Similarly, ask open-ended questions to get employees talking about their passions and goals.

20. Encourage creativity

Facilitate creative thinking by giving your team time to collaborate and brainstorm on projects and strategies. Schedule regular team collaboration sessions where employees can ideate in groups and share concepts. Let staff direct brainstorming sessions and avoid directing the ideation process, even if you know something won't work. Letting teams direct and create their own strategies for meeting goals promotes free-thinking and creative solutions.

21. Promote social activities

Give employees the freedom to socialize during work hours. For instance, schedule one day per week for team lunches, set up a team profile on social media or another method for encouraging teams to communicate and interact. Regular corporate events where teams can get together and socialize are another option to get staff to connect.

22. Provide new hire training

Ensure new employees have the training and orientation they need to be successful on the job. For instance, if your company requires new hires to complete a probationary period, use it as a way to support their development and understanding of the company, its mission and how their role fits into the work culture.

Related: 30-60-90 Day Plan: What It Is and How To Create and Use One (Example Included)

23. Offer educational benefits

Provide continuing education or certification training to employees. This can show staff that you care about their career goals and aspirations and that you're willing to help them advance. Scholarship programs, certification "boot camps" and professional workshops that result in credits towards a license can support employees' desire to advance and inspire their motivation.

24. Provide essential resources

When teams complete projects, they need tools and resources to do it. Ensure your staff has everything they need to complete essential tasks and to achieve objectives. For instance, if the marketing team would benefit from analytics software, find a means to provide the tools to make their jobs more efficient.

25. Ask for employee input

Ask about your team's ideas, concerns and suggestions. Encourage employees to give their input when making important operational decisions. For instance, if upper-level management is looking to purchase and integrate a new customer relationship management (CRM) software, ask your staff for their input on what features to look for, what functions they will need and additional input to help management make the best decision.

26. Make time for individuals

Schedule more one-on-one time to speak with team members regarding their workflow, goals or progress. During these short meetings, discuss individual progress goals, encourage employee feedback about your performance and provide specific feedback to help your teams build more confidence in their work and boost their motivation.

27. Promote wellness at work

Encourage employees to focus on their health and wellbeing by incorporating wellness-at-work strategies. For instance, call in an organic catering company for lunch so employees have healthy options. Set up space in the office with simple fitness equipment to inspire employees to take a short fitness break. Healthy employees are more productive and satisfied, which ultimately boosts motivation in the workplace.


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