What really motivates your employees? Top 10 highly effective tactics for optimal engagement

What really motivates your employees to do their best work?

Employee engagement is a crucial element of any organization. However, considering that Gallup’s State of the American Workplace reports that 64% of employees still cannot be seen as engaged, it is apparently something many companies struggle with.


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The results may be bad, but it’s not for lack of trying. Many methods of motivation have been thought up, tested, and implemented.

Engaging employees is often seen as a simple ‘punishment versus reward’ mind frame, but if that were the case, wouldn’t the stats be higher? When you motivate your employees, the productivity levels of your entire organization rise at a remarkable rate. Your staff will be full of innovative go-getters as opposed to unmotivated slackers.

The question isn’t just how you motivate your employees, but instead, “which are the best ways to ensure they are motivated and engaged?”

How do you know that the tactics you’re trying really work? Sometimes even the method you put the most effort and focus into may actually be working counteractively against your goals.

Motivating people is in no way easy, especially in the workplace. Read on as we count down our top 10 highly effective ways to encourage and motivate your employees.

1. Feedback

Sometimes a little constructive criticism is all your employees need to get the ball rolling.

Contrary to what many individuals believe, not all people react negatively to feedback (as a caring employer you should be able to phrase any advice tastefully of course). Pointing out areas where they can improve, or further excel, and even giving some information on how is often the push employees need to get invested in their next task. That support is an easy way to engage and retain your workforce. Giving them ways to improve stretches the capabilities of each employee and allows them to put their best foot forward.

2. Work-life balance

The benefits that you have available to your staff can be a welcome gift for those who are struggling to feel connected or engaged daily. Self-motivation is difficult! Incorporating a couple of incentives can develop that much needed work-life balance that your workforce requires.

work-life balance

(Source: Wrike,‘A snapshot of work-life balance realities’)

Encourage your employees to use their vacation days. Offer flexible working options or telecommuting to relieve the burden of the commute and empower staff to find balance between work and home life. Schedule quarterly department events. Find ways to incorporate fun into the lives of your staff. A company culture that plays as hard as they work is proven to increase not only productivity, but overall happiness in the organization.

3. Top-down communication

It is incredible how much more motivated your employees become when they feel like they matter to your organization. Establish an open-door policy that allows your employees access to upper management and vice versa. Push open communication as a value for your organization.

A note of thanks or a request made with humility shows employees that they are valued, respected and seen as equally integral parts of your company. The resulting confidence in their roles and goals leads to employees that invest more into their positions and the company vision.

4. Show some trust

Micromanagement and information barriers are some of the most active killers of employee motivation. Letting your employees know that you do not trust or rely on them makes them feel like they are unworthy of that trust or confidence.

If their managers cannot depend on them for their given role, how can they be expected to feel any excitement or motivation for their day-to-day tasks? Providing your employees with that vote of confidence can go further than you think. After all, you hired them to be in that position; you must find them to be capable. So, prove it! Give them independence to work, support when they struggle and give encouragement when they show innovation. Show them that trust and they will be more motivated than ever to not let you down.

motivation you got this

(Photo by Sydney Rae)

5. Give your employees purpose

The worst thing for your staff to feel is that they are not working toward any specific goal. If they do, they are likely to view the office as a sort of prison rather than an innovative space to execute company values and advance their careers.

The first step is to understand and share the company vision. This is where internal branding comes into play. Show your staff your company values, what your organization stands for and the progress you hope to make in the coming years. Letting them in on the purpose of the business allows them to execute their individual mission strongly and without doubt of their particular role. Every employee wants to feel like they are making an impact; showing them how they fit into the big picture will establish the sense of purpose they crave.


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6. Be an open book

The same way employees appreciate trust from their employer they want to be able to reciprocate the notion.

Large companies have the tendency to keep information confidential, or secret and only among the highest officials. However, they may not realize that leaving all staff out of large company decisions shows them that they have no stake in the direction the company takes. That is untrue, and the actions of everyone in the organization should reflect that.

Be open with your employees so that there are no adverse surprises. Doing this will not only increase their motivation but will also incite a strong sense of pride and loyalty to their employer.

7. Gamification

We couldn’t stress it enough in our blog ‘Are you taking gamification seriously?: 4 reasons to implement it now’ – gamification works! Implementing a reward system that gives points or something similar in exchange for employees engaging with the system and meeting specific goals is a proven motivator for employees regardless of age or department. Before turning 21, the average American has spent 2,000-3,000 hours reading books and more than 3x that playing video games.

The desire to relieve stress by defeating bosses and excelling through levels is one that can be easily applied to the training and engagement of your workforce. Aside from just recognition and reward, gamification is used to give employees real-time feedback and performance analyses. Feedback is provided on-the-spot as opposed to the retroactive feedback that comes monthly or annually.

A survey by Aberdeen Group shows that organizations with effective gamification solutions improve employee turnover by 35% and employee engagement by 48%. Done right, the benefits of gamification can counteract some of the biggest engagement killers.

8. Give individual praise

Teamwork is something you’ll find prioritized in every organization. Fellow departments and employees are expected to work together to complete one major goal for the good of the company.

While this concept is a great one, there is one issue – individual achievements may find themselves swept under the rug for the “greater good.” There is nothing wrong with motivating the entire team, however, the only way to be sure that every member of the team is working toward a common goal, you must pay attention to individual tasks and accomplishments. Rather than see the team as a whole, realize that the whole is made up of numerous parts – individuals that deserve to be recognized for the individual efforts that they bring to the table.

In a survey by Officevibe, when asked what leaders can do more of to improve engagement, 58% of employees replied: “Give recognition.” No employee wants to feel like they are falling behind or being outshined by more public staff. Your staff needs a clear understanding of how they benefit the team so that in the end they can have pride when the full task has been accomplished.

9. Give them a leadership role

Employees that are engaged care about moving up the career ladder. Giving members of your staff the recognition they deserve for hard work can make the difference between a motivated employee and an actively disengaged one. Vacation time and trophies are not enough to make your members feel valued. They need to feel like their efforts are recognized and adequately rewarded. Money is not always the best course either. While a raise is never unappreciated, you want your employees to care about more than a paycheck.

Place them in a role where you can continue to see them excel. Nearly 80 percent of workers will look for another job if they don’t feel like they’re valued where they are.


(Placing employees in a position of responsibility or promoting them to a more senior role can be a huge driver of motivation. Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash).

Promoting them into a well-earned leadership role creates a staff that is invested in their position and responsibilities. Having others to guide through the company goals increases their loyalty, raises confidence within the organization, and motivates them to bring new ideas and strategies to life.

10. Other positive employees

Do not underestimate the power of an optimistic attitude and friendly face. Individuals value their peers and take the things they say into account. Two-thirds of employees find that their coworkers make their jobs more enjoyable.

That is why you want to keep an office full of positive individuals. One bad seed can spread a miasma of negativity and pessimism among the entire staff. 23% of employees are labeled as actively disengaged. That means that are actively working to undercut the productivity of their organizations. Your company culture reflects the attitudes of your employees so keeping your staff happy is just as important as making sure they are engaged and productive every day.

Getting that fire burning within your staff is a hard task. If you’ve tried a variety of tactics and incentives and are still not seeing the results you want, do not give up. Get to know the people you want to motivate. Every individual is different so what may work best for one organization may not be 100% suitable for yours.

To find a motivation tactic that fits your company culture and workforce, you may need to think outside the box. Following these ten basic principles will get you off to a good start when establishing the right building blocks for your employee motivation.


How engaged are your employees?

Make your workforce feel valued, before they find another company who will. Download our free eBook today.