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Employee Recognition

Innovative Ways to Motivate Employees and Boost Productivity


Looking for ways to motivate your employees and keep them happy, engaged and productive? You’ve come to the right place. 

Table of Contents

What is Employee Motivation?

The Benefits of Highly Motivated Employees

The Relationship Between Motivation and Productivity

The 7 Best Ways to Motivate Employees

Unlock the Power of Employee Motivation

What’s your organization’s most important asset? Is it your IP? Is it your leadership team? Is it your spirit of innovation or your unique systems and processes? Or, is it perhaps your people? 

As the old adage goes: Any company is only as good as the people who work there. With that in mind you probably already know that recruiting and retaining the very best talent is crucial to your ongoing success. But what about the employees that already work for you? How can you ensure that they’re engaged in their work and motivated to succeed? 

That’s where motivation comes in. 

Motivated employees are not only happier in their work; they’re also more productive, more engaged and more likely to stay in their roles and reach their full potential. 

So what can leaders do to motivate their employees and boost productivity? From short-term solutions to long-term strategies, read on to find out some ideas for innovative ways to motivate your employees. 

What is Employee Motivation? 

Before we go any further we should define exactly what we mean by “motivation”. 

Put simply, motivation is the reason why people get out of bed in the morning – the driving force behind the enthusiasm, energy, commitment and creativity that they bring to their role. 

Of course, different people are motivated by different things. Some are encouraged to work at their best by deadlines, others by the prospect of a bonus, or they may be motivated to work hard simply because they love their work. 

Generally, however, motivation falls into two main categories:

Intrinsic motivation: This is the personal willingness of an employee to perform better. It’s an internal driver, one that’s driven by their own need to accomplish goals and their enthusiasm to face challenges at work. 

Extrinsic motivation: On the other end of the spectrum, extrinsic motivation refers to the external factors that motivate employees. This could be employee recognition, rewards, incentives or bonuses. 

Ensuring that your employees are motivated in their work and excited to help your organization achieve its goals is a complex formula of different tactics that carefully balances both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. 

By the Numbers – 6 Statistics that Prove the Connection Between Motivation and Productivity 

37% of employees feel most encouraged by personal recognition. Fortune.

Disengaged employees cost U.S. companies more than $550 billion a year. The Engagement Institute. 

Highly engaged teams boost company profitability by 21%. Gallup

Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 x more likely to feel empowered to perform to the best of their abilities. Salesforce

70% of employees say they feel disengaged at work. Gallup.

Motivated workers can raise sales by up to 37%. Harvard Business Review. 

The Benefits of Highly Motivated Employees

So why should you want your employees to be motivated? Perhaps a better question would be, why wouldn’t you? 

If your organization focuses on how to motivate workers, you can expect to experience a host of benefits. Motivated people are more adaptable, they’re more engaged, better at being creative, less likely to be absent and more likely to share a positive image of you as an employer. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

So what are some of the ways increased employee motivation could boost your business?

Increased engagement

Today’s very best talent aren’t motivated by corner offices and big salaries. Sure, those things are important, but in the hierarchy of needs they come well below the North Star for many peoples’ careers – purpose. Employees want to be engaged at work, they want to be actively involved in your company and not just punching clocks and collecting paychecks. And that all stems from how motivated they are to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. 

Improved creativity and innovation

We live in uncertain times. Today’s businesses need to navigate an ever-changing landscape or risk being left behind. That’s especially true of small businesses and startups where innovation is key to success. The good news is that when your employees are motivated they’re more likely to create and innovate, navigating uncertainty with ease and spotting solutions to help your organization not only survive, but thrive well into the future. 

Stronger relationships

If you want to build stronger relationships between every level of your organization then you need to know what makes your people tick. Tapping into what motivates your team members and creating opportunities that allow them to come together and achieve those desires, can build better relationships at every level. 

Better customer service

In an era where negative reviews can quickly spread via search engines and social media, customer service is more important than ever. Motivation can play a key role in delivering the best experience to your customers. If you don’t believe us just think of the times you’ve experienced exceptional customer service, nine times out of ten it will have been delivered by an employee who was willing to go above and beyond to exceed your expectations. 

Positive culture

Motivated employees are the secret ingredient behind any great company culture. When your people are engaged and feel connected to your organization and its vision it spreads throughout your entire operation. Positivity breeds positivity and with a workforce full of motivated employees you’ll have no shortage of culture champions to uphold the values that are central to your organization’s success. 

Low absenteeism and turnover 

If your employees are motivated then they’re less likely to be absent from work. They’re also a lot more likely to stick around in their roles. The link between employee motivation and employee retention is well established. If you don’t believe us, consider this research from Gallup, which found that engaged employees were 59% less likely to leave their roles in the next 12 months. The reason why motivated employees tend to stick around is because they’re invested in your organization and their place within it.  Improved retention can not only save your business from disruption, it can also boost your bottom line, especially as the estimated cost of replacing a skilled employee is as much as 30% of their first year earnings. 

According to one study, just 2-out-of-10 employees believe that they were motivated to do outstanding work by the way their performance was managed.

The Relationship Between Motivation and Productivity

For many organizations, the biggest benefit of motivated employees can be seen in increased productivity. 

From office layouts to stress levels, there are dozens of factors that can impact productivity. But the levels of employee motivation within your organization are probably the most important. 

That’s because motivated employees perform better than their unmotivated colleagues. They tend to work harder, achieve more and deliver the best outputs for your organization. Conversely, when your employees don’t feel motivated, they’re not driven to perform at their highest levels. 

The reason behind this relationship is that there is a direct cause-and-effect between motivation and productivity. 

Here’s an example from outside of the office that explains why.

If you’re anything like us then you probably put off your chores as long as possible. Yes, the house needs tidying, but there are friends to see, couches to sit on and the latest shows that need binging. As a result, that spring clean you’ve been planning will almost always be pushed down to the bottom of your “to-do” list. 

However, if you decide to invite some of those friends over to sit on your sofa and watch your new favorite show with you, then cleaning the house becomes a whole lot more important. Suddenly you’re thrust into action, getting the place ready for guests. Maybe you’re doing it because you want to show it off, maybe you’re hoping to receive some compliments on how good it looks, or maybe you’re worried about what your friends might think if you don’t get it ready – whatever the case you’re now motivated to be more productive and achieve a task that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. 

It’s a simple analogy, but one that showcases just how intrinsic motivation is to productivity.  

The 7 Best Ways to Motivate Employees 

If you’ve read this far then you’ve no doubt already bought into the power of employee motivation, but what are the best ways to motivate your people and boost productivity? Here are a few tips to motivate employees and answer your questions on good ways to motivate employees.

1. The power of purpose

Whether it’s personal or professional, we know that setting goals is important. But when it comes to the workplace, they become a vital tool to recognize and reward your best performers, creating a virtuous cycle that in turn encourages them to scale new heights and achieve even greater success. 

At the end of the day, everyone wants their work to mean something. They want to know that what they do makes a difference, that what they do for eight hours a day has purpose. That means one of the best ways to motivate employees is to give them a clear and defined goal. No one wants to feel like another cog in the machine, so you need to show them what they’re doing matters and how their work contributes to the organization’s overall objectives. 

If you rally behind purpose and help your people to see the bigger picture, then they’re more likely to be engaged and motivated and much less likely to lose interest in their work. 

2. Set the tone with company culture

Your company culture isn’t just words that are written down in the employee handbook. It’s what sets your company apart from the crowd, and the reason why it exists in the first place. We’ve previously written about how a great company culture can improve your reputation as an employer, but it also plays a vital role in employee motivation. 

A survey of more than 4500 working adults in the UK and the US, shows us just how important a company’s vision and culture is to motivating employees. 

In total, 88% of employees who said they believed in their company’s mission also felt inspired by what they do, and a further 72% said that this belief inspired them to take risks. At the same time, less than half (42%) of employees who didn’t know their company’s mission could say the same thing. 

The findings present a stark contrast. They show that when employees feel connected to their company culture they’re more motivated, more creative and more productive. That’s because you’re helping to bring purpose to their lives, but also because you’re showing them that what they do is more than just another job – it’s an opportunity for both them and your organization to thrive together. 

3. Ask for feedback

How do you know what your employees want if you don’t take the time to ask them? 

Motivation is not only different for each individual but it can change over time. Indeed what motivates your employees to do their best today might change by tomorrow, or next week or next year. 

So the best way to stay on top of what your people really want, is to ask them. Then ask them again, then ask them a month later and a year later. This is where employee engagement surveys can come to the fore. These regular questionnaires offer an invaluable source of insight into what motivates your employees – intelligence that you can put to work to ensure that everyone performs to the best of their abilities. An employee engagement survey can also tell you if the steps you’ve taken to improve motivation are working, and if not, why. 

So listen to your people, acknowledge what they’re saying, then act on it. This is one of the top ways to motivate employees and improve your workplace. 

4. Recognize your employees

Making sure your employees are motivated is sometimes as easy as making sure they know they are appreciated. Recognition is a basic human need, one which we’re hardwired to respond to. 

That’s because receiving praise and recognition triggers the release of dopamine. Known as the “happy hormone,” dopamine stimulates the part of the brain that deals with positive emotions like satisfaction, happiness and pride. This physical desire to be appreciated goes back to the earliest days of civilization when humans had to prove their value to the tribe – otherwise, they wouldn’t survive. 

Today, we’re no longer fighting for survival, but our reaction to recognition is still the same. So when it comes to the workplace, it’s no surprise that employee recognition results in higher levels of motivation. 

For leaders the lesson is clear, by implementing an effective employee recognition program like Bucketlist Rewards, you can take advantage of our fundamental desire for appreciation and send your motivation levels soaring.

5. Don’t forget about rewards

Your employees work hard for you, and rewarding them can go a long way to motivating them to keep up their efforts. While much of this blog has focused on the kind of intrinsic motivation that can tap into your employees’ internal motivations, you shouldn’t overlook the power of extrinsic motivation. 

Rewards can play a big role in boosting your employees’ motivation and productivity. For years bosses have been using employee rewards programs in order to build a strong culture and create happy, motivated employees. 

The reason for the enduring popularity of rewards is because they’re tangible. In a world where so much of our lives has moved online, a physical reward for a job well done can have a big impact. 

Best of all you can also use extrinsic rewards to help motivate intrinsic behavior. You could, for example, incentivize your employees to deliver great customer service by offering a reward to whoever generates the most Google reviews in a certain period. Or offer a bonus for the person who gets the most sales. You could even get creative and offer rewards for people who live up to your company culture. 

Whatever approach you choose to take, rewards are a great way to reinforce your efforts to motivate your staff. To further your efforts, you can implement rewards programs like Bucketlist which make it easy to reward and recognize your employees!

ways to motivate employees

6. Deliver opportunities for development

Offering career development opportunities has been proven to help boost engagement and employee motivation. 

That’s particularly true of younger talent. Indeed research suggests that 68% of Millennials believe that a clear path to career progression is a key factor in keeping them engaged and motivated in their roles. The message that’s coming through loud and clear is that your people expect you to take an interest in their future. 

If your employees can see that you’re willing to aid their long-term development and support their career progression, then they’re much more likely to be motivated. Whether it’s offering learning opportunities or supporting study towards professional qualifications – it’s a long-term investment in their future that can have benefits for your organization in the here and now.

7. Take an individual approach

Working with people means that you have to constantly strive to understand what drives them, what they value and what they need from you as an employer. This is an ever-changing dynamic. After all, each and every one of your employees is different, and so what motivates them will be as unique as they are. 

It’s your job to work with your employees to discover exactly what it is that motivates them. What do they want to achieve? Where do they want to go in their career? What’s their “why”?  Once you’ve identified it you can then put together plans to help your employees tap into them. 

An individual approach shouldn’t just be restricted to what your employees do at work either. People are much more than just their jobs and so their motivation should be considered beyond the work they put in from nine to five. 

Are they starting a family? Are they working towards a personal goal? Are they passionate about a particular hobby or about doing good in their community? By recognizing the whole human, you can identify what drives your people outside of work and find ways to bring it into the office. 

For more information on how you can elevate your workplace culture, click the button above!

Unlock the Power of Employee Motivation 

In the current climate where organizations are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the competition, motivation is more important than ever. 

It’s no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a strategic imperative, one that can impact just about every aspect of your operation. From improved productivity to better employee retention, via improved creativity and best-in-class customer service – motivation has the power to unlock countless benefits. 

So far in this article, we’ve explored the impact of motivation, the psychology behind it and some of the different ways to motivate employees and boost productivity. But if there’s one thing that leaders need to take away from reading this, it’s that motivation isn’t something that happens by accident. It’s something you have to work for, the result of conscious planning and strategic implementation. It may sound like a lot of work, but the benefits far outweigh the effort you will have to invest.

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