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Employee Motivators: List of Ways That Employees Are Motivated - HRDQ

Employee Motivators: List of Ways That Employees Are Motivated

When you have a highly motivated workforce, it typically results in increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and healthier company culture. Considering that nearly half of U.S. employees are actively looking for job opportunities in the summer of 2021, the fact that motivated employees are less likely to look for a different job is an argument for focusing on boosting employee motivation.

What is the best way to motivate employees in this day and age, though? What incentivizes your workers to put their best effort into their job day in and day out?

The correct answer will likely depend on your organization and the individuals that make it up.

Because different people can be motivated by different things, it's worth working to understand what your employees value so you can offer them employee motivators that are meaningful to them.

Methods to Motivate Employees

While there are countless ways companies can motivate employees and what motivates a person can vary, several strategies have emerged consistently across organizations around the globe to improve employee motivation.

Motivating Team of Employees

The first step in working to create employee motivators is to understand what it is that your employees value.

You may find that employees that work side by side are motivated by different things. For this reason, it's increasingly common to have flexibility in reward systems and job design to help ensure that each employee receives something of value that motivates them. This can lead to improved morale, boosted productivity, and less organizational turnover.

Innovation and Creativity

It isn't uncommon for employees to avoid voicing their creative ideas to management out of fear that their voice doesn't matter or that their idea will be put down. This doesn't just create a scenario where the employee suffers; it also hurts the potential for innovation in the company as a whole.

Employees Voicing Ideas

Empowering your employees to share their creative and innovative ideas can help create an atmosphere of openness to change that can inevitably help your organization thrive in a changing market. When employees feel free to contribute their opinions, it helps them feel involved, engaged, and invested in the company while at the same time helping your organization grow and thrive.


Employees Feeling Empowered

Another employee motivator is increasing your team's authority to make decisions and their overall responsibility. This makes it more possible for them to carry out the tasks they're responsible for and can reduce the feelings of frustration that can come from being held accountable for something that they don't have the tools to achieve.


Many employees naturally want to challenge themselves and grow in their roles if given the opportunity. Committing to continuously building employee skills as a company can help motivate your employees to do their best work.

Employees Learning Skills

This might mean offering to send your employees to licensing programs and accreditation programs or providing a stipend that employees can use to sharpen and deepen their skills.


Of course, another motivator you can offer to your employees comes in the form of a monetary incentive. When you share a portion of your profits with employees, it helps to incentivize them to do their best, highest-quality work.

In this type of motivation strategy, the employee is directly benefited by what benefits the company.

Receiving Increased Compensation

An organization might give monetary compensation as a reward for many things. For example, they might do so to help boost productivity, generate cost savings, or reduce days missed at work.

It is generally believed that monetary compensation as a motivator really needs to be paired with other non-monetary motivators. If not, the positive effect wears off quickly. It's also essential to make sure that monetary incentives are available to all the members of an organization. Otherwise, the plan to motivate your employees through this method can backfire.

Quality of Life

Your employees spend a large portion of their week working for your organization, and it's increasingly common that families have two adults working full time. On top of that, the number of hours Americans work each week has been increasing in recent years.

For this reason, many Americans feel uncertain about how to meet all of the demands of their lives in a balanced way. When your workers are concerned with issues from other parts of their lives while at work, it can hurt their morale and productivity.

Flexible Work Arrangement

Increasingly, organizations have been creating flexible work arrangements that result in increased motivation and productivity. These programs might include job sharing, condensed work weeks, or flex-time and can help employees focus solely on work when they are on the clock, giving them more power to deal with their private lives when they aren't at work.

Time off can be another way to reward employees for a job well done. A day off can be more meaningful than monetary compensation, showing workers that your organization supports their efforts to lead a balanced life.

Recognition and Advancement

There have been countless studies looking at the most effective employee motivators, and many of these have found that non-monetary incentives are the most effective methods. Providing recognition and advancement, as well as increased responsibility, have all been proven positive motivators. As opposed to monetary incentives, which can divide employees due to the disparity in their compensation, these motivators can help foster team spirit.

Recognizing an Employee

Employees tend to be more highly motivated when managers promote an environment of participation, treat their team with respect and fairness, and recognize the little victories of workers.

There are a lot of different theories of motivation out there, one of the best known of which is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Check out our recent post about how to motivate your employees using Maslow's hierarchy to learn more.

Employee Motivators to Try in Your Workplace

When you think of employee motivators, the first thing that comes to mind is often money and benefits. While these are essential factors in motivating your employees and reducing turnover, one study found that they don't show up on a list of what motivates employees to "go the extra mile."

Motivating Workplace Employees

Some of the most important factors that motivated employees included peer motivation and feeling recognized and encouraged. Let's look at a list of ways that employees are motivated to help you decide which methods (monetary or otherwise) make sense for your organization to implement.

Create a Positive Work Environment

When your employees genuinely like being in your workplace, it makes going to work much more pleasant.

A positive work environment can be created through the physical office space and the culture. Workplaces with functional, aesthetically pleasing, and well-lit spaces will be much more enjoyable places for your employees to spend time. You'll find that making even small investments in the space can significantly impact your employees' motivation to show up for work in the morning.

Positive Work Environment

Creating a positive cultural environment is also important. If your employees dread going to work because it's tedious, dull, or even toxic and negative, you'll find that their motivation is lacking. Work to create a positive energy workplace and allow some space for people to have some fun in addition to getting their work done.

Other methods to foster a positive work environment and effective team building: Emotional Intelligence Skills Assessment

Offer Rewards

Rewards don't just motivate your employees to do a good job, but they also incentivize them to stick with your company rather than looking elsewhere for employment.

Rewarding an Employee

Whether this is a quarterly bonus, an incentive program, or a commission structure, offering rewards in addition to other motivators can help ensure that your employees are doing their best work and planning on sticking around in the long run.

Be Supportive, Honest, and Respectful

One of the main reasons that employees lose motivation or leave their job is bad management. By clearly communicating and being honest and respectful, you can help your employees know they are valued and appreciated.

Being Supportive of Employee

Your employees will feel a greater sense of loyalty when you're supportive of them. As a result, they'll be motivated to do their best work and be happy to continue working for the company rather than looking for employment elsewhere.

Encourage Employee Growth

No one wants to feel stuck in the same position forever.

Encouraging Growth in Employees

Encouraging your employees to grow within the company, particularly if your business is expanding, can be a significant motivating factor for your workers.

Offer Food in the Office

It might seem like a little thing, but offering food in the office seems to make a noticeable difference in employee motivation. After all, people's hunger levels certainly impact their mood, which, in turn, can affect their motivation.

Food in the Office

One survey found that 57% of employees felt more appreciated and valued when employers offered food-based perks. So if you're looking for a simple way to motivate your employees, consider offering some tasty snacks to munch on while they work.

Allow For Flexible Scheduling

In a study by Forbes, 45% of respondents said that they considered flexibility the number one most important element when searching for a new job.

Flexible Employee Scheduling

This is one of the best ways to show your employees that you value their need for a work-life balance and that you trust them to produce great work no matter where they are or what time it is.

Be Transparent

It is hard to feel motivated when it's unclear what exactly you're responsible for.

Being Transparent with an Employee

Work to have clear communication with your employees, as they will be much more motivated when there is a clear sense of what they're supposed to be doing.

Ways to identify and improve your communication style: What's My Communication Style

Recognize Small Wins

In the busy world of the workplace, it's easy only to recognize when a major goal has been reached. It can be a huge motivator for employees when someone tells them they've done a great job on even the most minor task.

Recognizing Small Wins

People appreciate being appreciated, and when you recognize small wins, it can help boost confidence, morale, productivity, and motivation.

Create (and Share) Clear Goals

Creating clearly defined goals for your company can help your employees see the bigger picture and be motivated to help the team reach their goals.

Creating and Sharing Goals

If the goals are unclear, it can reduce employees' confidence and make them feel like their work is less vital than it really is.

Include Your Employees in Decision-Making

It's challenging to be motivated to work towards a goal when you don't feel like you have any control or say over the situation.

Including Employees in Decision Making

When you show your employees you're willing to listen to their opinion and give them accountability, it can increase engagement and motivation.

Make Work-Life Balance a Priority

The productivity of your office will improve if the overall culture prioritizes work-life balance. Encourage your employees to use their vacation time, understand when people have family obligations to uphold, and ensure your whole team has everything they need to work effectively.

Employee Using Vacation Time

You can also offer opportunities for personal development, not just career development. When people feel that the company they work for cares about their success as a person, it can be a huge motivator.

Share the Bigger Picture

Sometimes employees lack motivation simply because they haven't been shown the bigger picture they're working towards.

Sharing the Bigger Picture

If you can help them see how even their most minor tasks are helping the company achieve its larger goals, you'll find that at least some of your workers will improve their productivity and morale.

Does Your Leadership Style Motivate Your Employees?

As you can see, there are a lot of different employee motivators that you can utilize in your workplace to benefit your workers and the organization as a whole. While your company's budget might limit your ability to implement some of these motivational strategies, there are many methods you can use that don't cost a thing.

Motivating Leadership Style

One thing you can focus on is how your leadership style is helping or hurting motivation in the workplace. Understanding your leadership style can be difficult, which is why we created What's My Leadership Style. This is a tool you can use to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a leader to help you become the most effective leader possible.

Do you have any questions or concerns regarding employee motivation? If so, please be sure to leave a comment down below, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We make it a point to reply to every comment and question we receive, and we'd be more than happy to assist you however we possibly can!

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.