5 Proven Employee Motivation Strategies

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

A motivated employee is more engaged, and an engaged employee is more productive. Gallup calculations on the U.S. workplace indicate 34 percent of workers are engaged (a survey high), 13 percent are “actively disengaged” (a new low – in a good way), and that engagement is a key driver of positive business outcomes. Ready to engage? Explore our 5 proven employee motivation strategies.

Engagement, Motivation, and Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation

Engagement, Motivation, and Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation

To fully appreciate the Gallup data points, you must understand “engagement” and “motivation” in respect to business. Motivation is the desire to get something done; engagement is the process of getting something done.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within (pride, satisfaction), and extrinsic motivation derives from an external source (bonuses, praise).

Now we’re ready to talk 5 proven motivation strategies.

5. Hire Intrinsically Motivated People

Cue the human resources department. It’s up to your screeners to assess job applicants’ motivation. You’re looking for a responsible person who can focus on a task and stick with it, someone who has skills and finds pleasure in using them, a person with commitment and energy.

You can supply extrinsic motivation, from competitive wages and benefits to kudos and citations, but you’ll get more wins in the motivation game if you start with team members who have a propensity for intrinsic motivation.

4. Have Clear Mission and Vision Statements that Shape Goals

Your business needs clear statements of mission and vision. There’s a difference. Consider the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Its stated mission is “to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.” Its stated vision is “to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a critical illness.”

It’s about setting goals, distant and immediate, tangible and abstract, on organizational and personal levels. Business2Community.com notes that employee performance goals help with:

  • Professional development. This is especially true when the goals advance skill sets and build confidence.
  • Measurability. The degree to which a goal is achieved, with an eye on timeliness and efficacy, is an excellent metric.
  • Employee well-being. Knowing what needs to be done and when avoids confusion and frustration and improves outcomes – and moods.
  • Decision-making. Goals bring choices and timelines into focus, enhancing the assessment and execution of decisions.
  • Meeting deadlines. Clear goals produce clear deadlines, triggering better time management and often delivering results sooner.

3. Make Good Communication a Priority

Communication in the workplace matters a lot, be it boss to subordinate, employee to supervisor, or peer to peer. In fact, communication skills are a make-or-break factor in almost every aspect of every endeavor:

  • In building a team
  • In setting goals
  • In defining strategies
  • In building relationships that advance goals
  • In raising and sustaining morale
  • In recognizing and satisfying customer needs
  • In recognizing problems and solutions
  • In overcoming difficult moments arising from personal and group issues

The problems associated with a failure to give or take feedback regularly and properly are myriad. Business News Daily lists four common communication failures:

Defaulting to email. Inboxes stay full because too many people turn to the keyboard instead of grabbing a phone or some facetime.

Inside news breaking on the outside. If something external is going to hit home, be it a market swing or a takeover, leadership has a responsibility to inform employees before they are awash in rumors and misinformation.

Information silos. This is when necessary information stays locked up in the department or person of origin. In a word, the solution is collaboration.

Remote employee isolation. Distant teams, branches, team members need to be kept in the loop.

2. Promote Adaptability Among Employees and Embrace Flexibility

The workplace and play space have something in common: constant change. So, whether you’re leading an aerospace design squad or a softball team, two keys to regularly winning are adaptability and flexibility.

Here are some adaptability goals your workers should strive to achieve:

  • Seek ways to do multiple tasks while taming the clock.
  • Stay cool when the heat is on.
  • Push the envelope on creativity and job descriptions.
  • Be willing to learn new skills, including some that require seminars and formal training.
  • Try to handle change gracefully, even when it’s disruptive.

This is a two-way street. Employee adaptability that advances organizational goals should be met with workplace flexibility that improves employees’ lives:

  • Part-time jobs can meet some workforce needs while accommodating employees who need to limit hours.
  • It’s the digital age. Do you have employees who can and want to telecommute?
  • Flexible work hours. Does it really matter when they do the job?

A manager promoting adaptability among employees and embracing flexibility.

1. Reward Achievements and Show Appreciation

The online publication Entrepreneur recommends having a reward system for employees that addresses compensation, benefits, recognition, and appreciation:

  • Compensation runs the gamut from hourly wages and salaries to commissions and bonuses.
  • Benefits can include life and health insurance; pensions, profit sharing, and retirement plans; vacations, holidays, and sick days.
  • Recognition can come in the form of positive feedback, awards, company swag – any of the many forms of pats on the back for a specific job well done.
  • Appreciation can be a corporate gamification system, free food, time off, company events, or similar goodies.

The best leaders are great motivators who recognize obstacles such as generation gaps. They also know that lessons in leadership can be found in magical places and in more traditional settings such as brick-and-mortar classrooms and online.

See what the Office of Corporate Training and Professional Education is offering, from test preparation to our Hospitality Leadership Program.

Learn More