• Kick ‘Em Into Gear: Employee Motivation Techniques

employee motivation techniques

Happy and motivated employees are an essential ingredient in the recipe of business success. Employee motivation isn’t simply a cherry atop the proverbial cake. Unmotivated employees can spell disaster for your business. A lack of motivation can bring a myriad of problems for your business, including high job turnover, added recruitment and training costs, and worst of all, low productivity.

So how do you motivate your employees? How do you keep them passionate and working hard, even when times are tough? Thankfully, keeping employees motivated doesn’t necessarily have to involve high costs, or a lot of expenditure of time and effort. Implementing just a few employee motivation techniques can help your small business see a boost in productivity, profits, and success!

employee motivation techniquesWhat Motivates Employees? The Basics!

The question of how to motivate staff is one that keeps Human Resource Managers up at night. However, it’s not a question you should be let left relegated to a large HR department. Business owners need to think about motivating employees as part of business strategy; ever-present and ever-important.

When thinking of ways to motivate employees, try to put yourself in their shoes, and rank wishes by order of importance. If you were to get a job at your business, what would your first priority be? Chances are it’s the basics: security in the form of a steady paycheck and decent wage, and benefits (retirement plans, healthcare, etc.). Only after these basic needs are met do other considerations come into play: whether or not a workplace is welcoming, the quality of work and the personal fulfillment that comes from that work, the quality of coworkers, the style of management, and so on, so forth.

Whether or not you offer a full-time wage and benefits depends on your business’s unique services and style. However, if it’s in your ability to provide such things and you’re wondering how to motivate staff, lay out the benefits. Your employees will appreciate it, and thank you in the form of superior work quality and greater efficiency.

Set Clear Expectations

If you’re not receiving the results from your employees that you want, it may very well be your fault. Why? If you want results, you need to set clear expectations. There are no two ways around this.

Often, you may think that you have clearly stated work objectives, numbers needed, and deadlines, but your employees may have understood these differently. Be sure to check in with your employees and confirm that they understand what you need. Consistency is key in marketing and management. Don’t just give a run-down of what’s needed, however; share all you know with your employees to help them understand why you’ve set the goals and requirements you have.

Motivating Employees Without Money

Motivation in the workplace doesn’t only come in the form of salary and benefits. There are ways to motivate employees without money as well.

Be a Role Model

As a business owner and manager, it is your duty to help organize and inspire your employees. Be a role model for your employees. You are the general who herds their soldiers into battle; the orator who sings their audience into starry-eyed wonder; the tutor who wills the best efforts out of their students.

motivating employees in the workplace

Your attitude and actions are contagious. Start the day off right; with a smile and walking confidently. Check out these motivational quotes for business owners to put you in the right mindset to inspire your employees.

Greet your employees personally. Share the goals and expectations of the day with them. Motivate your staff by telling them it will be a great day. Be sure to check in with them, for a few minutes at least, on their personal lives, as well. Ask how Bob’s daughter’s graduation went, make sure Sally’s grandmother is recovering, and so on. Personal attention, even if it’s just a line here or there, can make an employee’s day. 

Staying motivated as a small business owner can be difficult, so seek motivation from your employees as well. Speak with your employees using reassuring and motivational words—you’ll find that your employees will echo your sentiments and inspire you as well. Simple words can be powerful. Use motivational words to show that you value your staff and appreciate their work. Say “please,” “thank you,” “you’re doing a good job,” and so on.

Give Back to Your Community

Another way to motivate employees is to show them the difference that you’re making in the community. When you’re getting involved in community events to get the word out about your business, bring your employees along. Being able to give back is one way in which small businesses will outlast big business chains. Forming a connecting with your local market is also a great way to get your name recognized and get new customers.

Show Customer Appreciation

Employees will be motivated by happy, loyal customers who keep coming back to your business. Show customer appreciation and encourage your employees to share customer feedback and reviews with the company. Everyone in the company should hear the rave reviews you’re getting on Google or Yelp. Print out your latest review, give accolades to exceptional employees who are named by customers, and show customers how much you appreciate their business. For more customer appreciation ideas, check out this blog post.

Get Employees Involved

Another employee motivation technique is to get employees involved in your marketing and social media presence. Encourage employees to share updates on Facebook and Twitter about your company or how much they love your product or service. Share employee photos on your company’s social media pages. Employees are a great way to get word of mouth referrals for your business.

Provide Methods of Advancement

One of the best ways to motivate employees is to provide them with a workplace that grows with them. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to motivate an employee to go above and beyond the minimal level of effort if there is no room for their advancement. Offer promotion and wage raise opportunities.

If employees are performing particularly well, give them more responsibilities and incorporate them into more initiatives. Show your employees their increase in ‘status’ by asking them for advice, and for their opinions and recommendations. Employees feel a strong sense of motivation and job satisfaction when their thoughts and opinions are valued by their bosses. 

Create a System of Motivation

The carrot and stick analogy is a tried and true technique. You should create a progressive disciplinary system for employees when they fail to perform correctly or effectively. Consider a several strike system, and be sure to not be too harsh. Be firm in punishment if infractions continue, but provide employees with a few opportunities to correct their behavior first. Offer assistance in this area if needed.

On the other end of the spectrum, you should create a clearly defined rewards system to boost morale and motivate employees to perform better.  Similar to a customer loyalty program, an employee rewards program is a great way to motivate and retain employees. Offer prizes and bonuses to jobs particularly well done. Monthly bonuses and incentive schemes always receive positive reception, but can seem like a far-off goal for some employees.

What motivates employees is a mix of long-term and short-term rewards. Incorporate small “quick fix” prizes that your employees can immediately take from the office, such as gift-cards, free company products or services, or small checks. Consider public forms of praise, or personal touches such as handwritten thank you notes and similar items.

Brainstorm Employee Motivation Ideas with Employees!

At the end of the day, different businesses demand different solutions. There is no one better qualified to come up with solutions for your company than you. How do you motivate employees? Incorporate your employees into the process! Ask them what sort of prizes they’d like to see, or what methods and techniques would motivate them to work harder and better. You’ll find that you get an invaluable array of employee motivation techniques that will actually work. Incorporate those with the ones above and you’ll see motivation—and profits—skyrocket!


  1. I full-heartedly agree that managers and leaders need to understand their employees and even involve them when coming up with ways to motivate them. When the employees know that they matter in the workplace it motivates them just as much as an incentives program would. As a manager, I’ve done my research and I know that there are so many other factors besides money that motivates people to work and I think it’s important to understand what they are for different people in your company.

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