How To Motivate Employees: 18 Steps for Workplace Success

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

For many managers and others in leadership positions, it is important to motivate staff members. When employees feel motivated in the workplace, there is a greater chance they are productive, creative and have a higher level of job satisfaction. One of the best ways to motivate employees is to find what is encouraging for them and develop ways to provide that in the workplace. In this article, we discuss how to motivate employees and explain why it is important.

Related: Types of Motivation for Career Advancement (With Examples)

How to motivate employees

Use these steps to strengthen employee satisfaction, encourage engagement and increase motivation in the workplace:

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 project, 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 where employees can collect and redeem points for a prize, like a gift card or free day off work, may be an effective approach for keeping employees extrinsically motivated. You can also ask your staff members which rewards they would like so that you can keep employees individually motivated.

3. Give positive feedback

Offer genuine praise for work ethic, performance and talent. Employees generally like to know that their work is recognised. Your positive feedback can increase your employees' overall morale. Additionally, positive praise can encourage employees to maintain the momentum that elicited the praise from you in the first place. If all employees perform in this way, it is more likely that your team will continue to give you their best efforts.

Related: How To Develop Effective People Management Skills

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 are more likely to remain engaged with their daily tasks.

5. Give purpose to roles

It is important to help employees understand the purpose of their role and how it fits into the organisational structure of the company. For instance, you can help an employee who stocks inventory connect purpose to their role by communicating how their inventory organisation and categorisation make order processing more efficient, saving the company money.

6. Establish expectations

Communicate company expectations to 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 towards meeting workplace expectations. Maintain open communication to discuss how employees are meeting or exceeding expectations and provide strategies for improvement to help employees stay aligned with what you expect of them.

7. Communicate openly

Encourage employees and management to communicate openly and collaboratively. Open and effective communication is important to avoid misunderstandings, but it can also foster positive feedback. Open communication elicits trust between employees and members of the management team, which can help employees feel comfortable when seeking advice and support from their team leaders.

Read more: Building Communication Skills: 10 Types of Listening

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 give employees something to look forward to. This can also help them feel engaged in events in the workplace. When teams feel inspired to have fun in their environment, they are more likely to stay satisfied and productive at work.

Related: 10 Powerful Tips for Successful Teamwork

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 are in the office.

Read more: What Is Remote Work?

10. Foster staff autonomy

Show employees 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' talents 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 with each other 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 team, which helps staff feel like they belong.

12. Start a mentorship program

Mentors provide employees with guidance and support in their work and careers. Consider building a mentorship program so employees can connect with each other and learn from one another's experiences. Your program can also include pairing newer employees with more senior-level staff members so they can learn, feel comfortable in their new roles and develop skills that are useful for their positions.

13. Offer development opportunities

It is common for employees to want to learn and develop in their role, and they may desire to attend training and conferences to do so. Encourage your staff members to explore ways they can learn more about their role or develop the skills they may need should they apply for a promotion in the workplace. You can also sign employees up for networking events so they can connect with and get to know other professionals in the industry.

14. Regularly meet with employees

It is important to meet with employees to discuss their careers goals and motivations. Even if you have met with them before, it can be a good idea to make it a regular habit to identify any change the employee is experiencing. By keeping up-to-date on employees' needs, you can provide what they are looking for from their place of employment. For example, you may discover that an employee recently decided that they want a promotion to management. You can help them feel motivated with an individual development plan that includes steps they can take to achieve their goals.

When you meet with employees, discuss how they are performing too. Let them know how proud you are of their work and the appreciation you feel that they are on your team. Express how you see their role progressing on your team and that you want to provide them with the support they need in reaching their goals.

15. Pay fairly

Even though employees may work in their roles because they enjoy the responsibilities of the position, many are still motivated by compensation. Providing fair wages shows employees you value their work and their unique experiences, and want to make sure they get the salary they deserve for their contributions to the workplace. Recognise the time they have stayed with your organisation by providing advancement opportunities that come with an increase in salary.

16. Plan team-building activities

Staff members who are able to connect with one another often feel more motivated in the workplace. Find ways to allow team members to get to know each other through team-building activities that foster creativity, support, trust and guidance. Because employees come from different backgrounds and experiences, they can learn from and teach each other during these activities and build their comfort level with the team.

17. Ask for input

It can be motivating for your employees if you ask for and openly receive input from them. It is likely that they have ideas and opinions about the workplace that can be really valuable for you as you adjust organisational goals and determine how you can support your staff. Encourage employees to give you feedback about programs you have created and operational decisions the leadership team has made. For example, you can ask for employees to test a new software during a trial period before you purchase it for the team to use.

18. Provide resources

It is helpful if employees have the tools and other resources they need to perform their job well and efficiently. It can be frustrating for employees if they do not have the best tools and resources to complete their tasks, so help them by providing the resources they require. For example, if a videographer would benefit from having a certain video editing software to make their process more thorough and efficient, consider budgeting for the tool to support their work.

Why is it important to motivate employees?

It is important to motivate employees because employees who feel motivated in the workplace are better able to perform at their best. They may be more collaborative, communicative and able to give and receive constructive feedback. Employers often benefit from motivated employees, as these individuals may experience greater job satisfaction and the desire to remain loyal to the organisation for a longer time period. This can save a company money in new hire recruitment, onboarding and training efforts.

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