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How to motivate employees – 7 proven ways

Unless you’re a one-man or woman business, the chances are that you have employees working for you. These are going to be your business’s greatest asset, as employees can portray your brand and company culture like no other force out there.

Essentially, they’re your greatest brand ambassadors. But what happens when the “honeymoon” phase ends after you’ve hired your employees and you’ve gotten down to the grindstone after a couple of months? What happens if productivity declines and your employees are simply not driven enough to continue? How do you motivate your team?

There are several simple answers to this question. So, let’s look at 7 proven ways to motivate employees.

Show recognition

Research shows that monetary incentives will only go so far when you want to motivate staff. This goes along with table-tennis tables, beer-on-tap in the office, free coffee and food, and other similar motivators.

What makes an employee feel motivated is often not material items but words that make them feel recognised and appreciated. Saying thank you for each task done is not only a great way to be polite, but it’s also an important way of acknowledging the employee’s actions.

Besides this, recognition goes beyond a “thank you”. It’s about taking into consideration all the effort they’ve put into a task to achieve it to perfection and taking some time to recognise this effort.

Recognition doesn’t have to be a big thing every time. A simple team email or a lunch can go a long way to show your appreciation. 

Strive for open communication

There are countless studies on the importance of communication in the workplace, and open and frank communication is key.

When ambiguity is involved, it could lead to mistakes and other problematic outcomes, so it’s vital to ensure that your communication as a leader, manager, or even business owner is on par with your employees’ expectations.

It is true that everyone has different communication styles. Some may prefer a more direct approach, others can understand the gist of a request with a few words being said and then there are those who have many questions and require lengthy explanations.

You better cater to these communication styles in your daily work.   

Try listening

With open communication comes the need for active listening. You need to pay attention to your employees – not only in terms of what they say but also in terms of what they don’t say and even their body language.

Each of these factors is crucial to ensure that you understand your employees and where they’re coming from when faced with a challenge and even to ensure that their voices are heard when something new arises.

Keep them in the loop about fresh developments in your business and listen to their questions and take them seriously. In many cases, you can actually learn something about your business that you were not aware of previously, such as different technologies you can implement in your work such as advanced equipment, card machines, etc. When employees feel appreciated and listened to, they’re more likely to feel motivated to stay and give their best. 

Create an employee culture

In answering the question of how to motivate a team, employee and employer culture also comes to the forefront on the motivational scale. So, what is an employee/employer culture?

It’s the internal culture of the company and it’s built from the top down or the bottom up, depending on how your company is structured.

For example, a friendly manager who is also down to earth and who listens to their employees, makes them feel appreciated, and listens to their needs is likely to create a friendly atmosphere where all voices can be heard. 

How setting goals helps employees

Rely on goal setting

Goal setting can be either a dreaded experience for employees or an empowering one. Goal setting usually takes place once a year, where measurable and achievable goals are set for the employee as tasks to accomplish during a space of time.

However, goal setting and performance reviews that come after goal setting can be truly liberating. Especially if you give your employees the chance to express themselves and to take part in the process.

Also, you can hold more frequent goal-setting sessions so that they empower your employee to feel on track. They do more knowing you support them every step of the way. 

Build respectful relationships

Respect is an enormous factor in any relationship, and the same goes for professional relationships in the workplace. But this must be mutual.

Managers who are on a power trip and expect respect and obedience are only likely to receive this in a superficial form.

Respect must be genuine and it is often earned after months and years of working together, communicating effectively, listening to each other’s concerns, and developing plans and strategies for the way forward. 

Opt for autonomy

And the last item on our list of how to motivate your team is autonomy. Autonomy is the absence of micro-managing every detail and tiny aspect of a task. It’s giving your employees the freedom and independence to think and act in a way they think is best to achieve a task.

In most cases, their ingenuity, originality, and creativity may even surprise you!


Now that you have some ideas about how to motivate employees, it’s time to put your plans into action and see the results!

There is nothing more wonderful than working with motivated employees who each strive to achieve their goals while being liberated and encouraged by you at the same time.

From listening effectively to creating a strong company culture and offering them autonomy in achieving their tasks, you’ll go a long way if you follow these simple suggestions.

But as in any company, motivating your team is just one aspect of all the steps you need to take to stay ahead of the competition. Strengthen your knowledge with additional free small business tips that are available a click away.

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