7 Strategies on How to Motivate Employees Effectively

Happy employees high fiving

June 19, 2024

Let’s be real – keeping employees motivated is one of the biggest challenges managers face in today’s rapidly evolving workplace. A motivated team is a productive, innovative and engaged one.


But how do you get people fired up about their work day after day when there are so many potential distractions and competing priorities? Motivating your staff must be intentional.


We’re going to share seven proven strategies that any leader can use to light a motivational fire under their team and keep it burning bright.


1. Build a Connection with Them

Employees aren’t just cogs in a machine – they’re complex human beings with rich lives, interests and motivations outside of work. Get to know your people on a personal level! Learn about their hobbies, families, goals and what intrinsically drives them.

When you build real, genuine connections, employees feel truly valued and seen as individuals, which inspires loyalty, engagement and discretionary effort.

Don’t just talk at them about work all the time. Ask questions, listen, find common interests and share a bit about yourself too. Schedule regular one-on-one check-ins, celebrate personal milestones like weddings or births, and simply take an authentic interest in them as people.

A strong rapport grounded in mutual trust and understanding goes a very long way towards fostering motivation.


2. Offer Flexible Scheduling

In today’s always-on, digital world, rigid 9-5 schedules are quickly becoming outdated and demotivating, especially for younger generations. Offer as much flexibility and autonomy as possible to attract and keep top talent – things like remote/hybrid work options, flextime, compressed workweeks etc.

Giving employees more control and freedom over when and where they work reduces burnout, increases productivity, and shows you respect their work-life balance and trust them as professionals. Allowing for flexible schedules is a low-cost, high-impact perk.

It improves retention and has been proven to boost motivation and engagement, as people feel empowered to design a routine that helps them perform their best. Get rid of outdated “clock-watching” policies and embrace modern ways of working.


3. Ask for Feedback

Nobody likes feeling voiceless or that their opinions don’t matter. Regularly ask employees for candid feedback about processes, pain points, policies, challenges and more. Maintain an open door and be receptive to constructive criticism.

An open feedback loop inspires accountability and innovative thinking since everyone has a real stake in the company’s success. You’ll get fresh perspectives and ideas for improving while making your team feel genuinely heard and valued as stakeholders.


4. Set Goals for Them to Reach  

Humans are wired to feel accomplished when we check things off a list and achieve objectives. Give your employees clear, achievable goals to work towards – both individual and team targets.


SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) provide a roadmap to success and a motivating sense of purpose. Collaborate with individuals to set targets that challenge them to grow while remaining reasonable.


Celebrate wins collectively and regularly when milestones are hit! Recognition, rewards and public acknowledgment release those satisfying motivational hits of dopamine. People are instinctively driven to meet or exceed a goal when there’s a defined finish line.


5. Provide Praise Quickly and Often

A little recognition and gratitude goes a remarkably long way in making people feel invested in their work. Don’t just wait for annual reviews – give sincere, specific praise and acknowledgment in the moment when employees go above and beyond expectations.

It’s really one of the simplest ways to motivate employees. Public shout-outs, handwritten notes, small treats, bonuses – these tiny, low-cost gestures cultivate a positive environment.


Workers who feel undervalued and underappreciated become apathetic and demotivated very quickly.

Regularly reinforcing their effort and impact boosts morale and inspires them to keep putting in the same stellar level of work. Praise is a basic human need – make it a habit.


Group of employees in business celebrating



6. Give Opportunities for Development and Advancement

The prospect of career growth and professional development is one of the biggest motivators, especially for younger employees. Invest in your team’s futures through training programs, education sponsorships, cross-training in new roles and clear succession planning.


When people know there’s a defined path forward, they’re energized to keep leveling up their skills, productivity and engagement. Outline very concrete steps required for raises, promotions and upward mobility. Serve as a mentor, facilitating growth.


The most motivated employees are those who feel they are on an exciting journey of consistent self-improvement and evolution within your company. Stagnation is the enemy of motivation.



7. Promote Employee Collaboration

Lone wolves can only go so far before getting stale. Foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork through group projects, team-building events, knowledge sharing sessions and open workspace layouts.


When colleagues actively support, learn from and elevate one another, a rising tide lifts all ships. Cooperation and the cross-pollination of ideas fuels creativity, skill-building and a unifying sense of comradery.


It’s incredibly motivating to be part of a high-performing, tight-knit team that takes collective ownership over successes and flaws.


Lead by example by praising collaboration over individual heroics. Incentivize through group rewards. Make time for team bonding. Creating that connective tissue yields incredible results.



Frequently Asked Questions About Motivating Employees


How do you keep your employees happy?

The key to keeping employees truly happy and motivated is making them feel profoundly valued as human beings first and foremost.

Build meaningful personal rapport, offer flexibility and autonomy, provide consistent growth opportunities, celebrate wins proportionately and listen to their voices and input. An environment grounded in mutual trust, respect and work-life balance is paramount.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t always have to come down to monetary rewards for employees to motivate. Gestures can sometimes mean a lot more to them.



How can motivating workers improve productivity?

Motivated employees are happier, more engaged and higher performing across every metric. Numerous studies show motivated teams have significantly lower absenteeism and turnover, stronger quality output and customer service, and higher profits overall. An energized, motivated workforce is an exponentially more productive one. The ROI both financially and culturally is immense.


Final Thoughts  

The bottom line is that having motivated employees is vital – they pump lifeblood into any successful, thriving organization. However, motivation doesn’t just happen naturally. It takes very conscious, consistent effort from leaders, but the payoff makes it worth prioritizing.

Tap into what intrinsically drives people using tactics like personal connectivity, autonomy, goal-setting and growth opportunities. When you make motivation a focus and give it the attention it deserves, your people will move mountains for your company’s mission. Unmotivated workers undermine everything, so fan the motivational flames wisely.



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