How To Motivate Employees

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Why is it important to motivate employees without money?

Employees who enjoy coming to work and want to reach their goals usually provide a number of benefits to their organization, including:

  • Less time off: Employees who enjoy their work and feel motivated to reach goals are less likely to take time off work.
  • Higher retention rates: A positive and supportive work environment with appropriate motivators usually leads to higher employee retention rates.
  • Positive workplace relationships: In most cases, employees who feel motivated to do well have more positive relationships with their peers and managers.
  • Increased productivity: Motivators and incentives keep employees producing high-quality work throughout their career.
  • Improved customer interactions: Happy, motivated employees often have better customer interactions than those who aren't effectively incentivized at work.

How to motivate employees without money?

Keeping employees properly motivated at work is a common job responsibility for managers and supervisors. Use these steps to help you do so without spending money: 

1. Provide autonomy

Most employees prefer to work as independently of their manager as possible and establish their own methods and processes for completing their tasks. Whenever possible, give your team the freedom they desire to complete their work as they choose.

2. Offer professional development opportunities

Employees who feel stagnant in their role can face professional burn out and look for new opportunities elsewhere. Encourage your employees to develop new skills and continue to challenge themselves through professional development and training opportunities.

3. Give purpose

Ensure everyone on your team understands how their role contributes to the company's overarching goals. Often, when employees know exactly how their work efforts positively affect other stakeholders inside and outside the organization, they get a larger sense of fulfillment from their work.

4. Provide praise

When your employees meet a goal or perform excellent work, offer them praise. Many people find authentic and specific praise a great motivator for continuing to work hard and meet personal, professional and organizational goals.

5. Create a community

Establish a community amongst your employees. The better your team knows one another and the more comfortable they are asking for support and guidance from others, the better the team will work as a unit and the more likely individuals are to stay with the organization.

6. Ask your team

When in doubt about the best ways to motivate your employees, ask them for guidance. Knowing exactly what they want from management in terms of support and incentives ensures they'll participate in your motivational or incentive based scheme once in place.

7. Build personal relationships

Take the time to establish a personal relationship with each of your team members. While staying professional, learn about their likes, hobbies and families. When employees feel you truly care about them as people and not just as workers, they're often more likely to perform well on the job.

8. Offer flexibility

If your industry and company supports it, give your employees flexibility over their work schedule. Allow them to choose their hours or work remotely when needed. Having control over their schedule in this way helps employees feel empowered and in control.

9. Establish privileges

Rather than providing financial incentives for meeting certain goals or objectives, offer your employees privileges instead. These could be opportunities like an extra day of paid time off, a longer lunch break or casual attire day.

10. Allow volunteering

Provide employees with paid time off to volunteer in the community. You could also establish a quarterly or annual departmental or company wide volunteer day to encourage everyone in the organization to support the local community.

11. Give leadership opportunities

Whenever possible, give talented and effective employees opportunities to lead their peers. Consider allowing a team member to present an idea to a client or to company leadership, asking an employee to oversee a research and development project or any other applicable duty.

12. Have fun

Provide fun work breaks for your employees every few weeks. Consider allowing employees to bring their pets to work for the day, letting everyone leave work an hour early on a Friday or arranging a potluck lunch for your department.

13. Foster healthy competition

Competition between team members is often a great motivational tool. Establish a privilege-based incentive for the highest earner on your team each month to encourage your employees to meet or exceed their expected quotas.

14. Increase responsibility

Keep track of your employees' achievements and productivity. For those who regularly exceed their goals, look for promotion opportunities for them within the company. Promotions and additional responsibilities often encourage employees to continue developing their skills and to stay with the organization.

15. Show your own passion

Behavior modeling is often a highly effective motivational tool. Show your employees you enjoy your work and believe in the organization through your positive demeanor and hard work ethic. More than likely, your employees will emulate your behavior.

16. Offer wellness opportunities

Physical and mental wellness are important for everyone. Provide opportunities for your employees to move their bodies and rest their minds. Consider offering a brief meditation class during lunch once a week or providing an on-site yoga class or walking group for interested employees.

17. Support work-life balance

Make sure your employees feel they can fully disengage from work when not in the office. Enforce firm work-life balance boundaries and show your employees that you respect their personal time and expect them to focus on work while on the job and spend their time on personal pursuits during their off hours. 

How To Motivate Employees in the Workplace

It can sometimes be difficult figuring out how to motivate your team, but encouraging and inspiring engagement is important for creating a productive work environment. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can directly influence employee morale, satisfaction and performance. There are a variety of different approaches to motivate employees in the workplace, and many of these strategies can be combined into effective tools to boost productivity and engagement. In this article, we explore why motivation in the workplace is important and how to motivate your teams. 

Why is motivation important in the workplace?

Employee motivation can impact productivity and performance, ultimately influencing their quality of work. When employees are motivated and engaged in the office, it leads to continuous achievements and the accomplishment of company, departmental and individual objectives. Additionally, fostering a creative and friendly environment where staff members feel safe sharing ideas and collaborating is important for maintaining employee morale, an essential factor in boosting motivation. 

How to motivate staff in the workplace

Use the following methods to boost satisfaction, encourage engagement and increase motivation at work:

1. Create bonus incentives

Motivate teams with a bonus incentive program. Incentive bonuses use monetary rewards to support employee performance and productivity. For instance, incorporate a monthly incentive for teams who complete extra tasks, achieve company objectives or exceed expectations. Create opportunities for everyone to qualify for a bonus reward by setting different criteria for each bonus period, such as exceeding quota one month and completing training the next month.

2. Offer tangible rewards

Provide ways for employees to win a tangible reward for completing a job above standards or for overcoming a work challenge. For example, a points system that employees can collect and redeem for a prize — like a gift card or free day off — is an effective approach for keeping employees extrinsically motivated.

3. Give positive feedback

Offer genuine praise for work ethic, performance and talent. Employees like to know that their work is recognized and management's positive feedback can boost your employees' overall morale. Additionally, positive praise can encourage employees to maintain the momentum that elicited the praise in the first place so that your teams continue to give you their best efforts.Related: Best Practices for Giving Constructive Feedback

4. Assign meaningful work

Provide assignments that are meaningful to employees. Discuss company goals and how their work influences the company's growth and development. When employees can connect meaning to their work, they're more likely to be engaged with their daily tasks.

5. Give purpose to roles

It's important to help employees understand the purpose of their role and how it fits into the organizational structure of the company. For instance, you can help an employee who stocks inventory connect purpose to their role by communicating how their inventory organization and categorization make order processing more efficient.

6. Establish expectations

Communicate company expectations with staff members and ensure all employees understand the standards they need to meet regarding performance and work quality. Create a visual like a chart so teams can check on their progress toward meeting workplace expectations. Additionally, maintain open communication to discuss how employees are meeting or exceeding expectations and provide strategies for improvement to help employees stay aligned with what's expected of them.

7. Communicate openly

Encourage employees and management to communicate openly and collaborate. Open and effective communication is important to avoid misunderstandings and foster positive feedback. Additionally, open communication elicits trust between employees and management, which can help employees feel comfortable when seeking advice and support from their team leaders.

8. Make work fun

Encourage staff to have fun at work. Plan celebrations for achieving specific milestones like meeting corporate, team or individual work goals. Schedule time for office holidays or birthday parties to get employees excited and engaged in events in the workplace. When teams are inspired to have fun in their environment, they're more likely to stay satisfied and productive at work.

9. Allow remote work

Consider allowing employees to work from home on predetermined weekdays. Flexible telecommuting options can include scheduling one day per week or even several days per month when teams can work remotely. This type of motivational strategy can support employees' independence and increase employee satisfaction, which can help motivate your teams when they're in the office.

10. Foster staff autonomy

Show employees that you trust them to do their jobs independently and make important decisions regarding project tasks and direction. Provide opportunities for teams to lead new initiatives and learn from mistakes. Showing you value employees' talent and unique skills can encourage autonomy in the workplace, foster respect for company objectives, leaders and peers and keep staff motivated to succeed.

11. Encourage belonging

Ensure staff has a sense of belonging within the workplace by providing opportunities for employees to collaborate and with management. Similarly, take the time to get to know your employees, ask about their career goals and learn what motivates them. This shows your compassion and genuine desire to connect with and support your teams, which helps staff feel like they belong.

12. Provide mentorship

Support staff's development through a mentorship program. For instance, offer opportunities for entry-level staff or new hires to work with a team lead or more senior-level professional. This can help employees gain a deeper understanding of the company culture, goals and values and can help them develop new skills.Related: How To Benefit From Mentorship Programs

13. Invest in development

Similar to mentorship, professional development and opportunities to learn new skills can have a lasting influence on employee productivity and performance. Consider scheduling meaningful development programs that employees can use to further advance in the workplace, such as training that teaches an essential skill that can prove advantageous for staff into the future.

14. Facilitate involvement

Get teams involved with developing projects, setting company objectives and offering input. Encouraging employees to get involved with processes that are above their scope of work can show them that the company values their input and perspective. Similarly, community involvement establishes an expectation of equality where everyone contributes to the growth and success of the entire company.

15. Offer fair compensation

Research salary averages for departmental roles within a company. Provide fair wages according to experience, skill and qualifications and when employees exceed expectations and show dedication and commitment to their jobs, provide advancement opportunities. For instance, a new employee may start at a specific base salary, but you can offer advancement opportunities as the employee gains experience within the company so that in the future, they have a means of increasing their income along with taking on more responsibilities.

16. Set achievable objectives

Help teams set their project goals and plan strategies to meet objectives. Ensure the objectives you set are achievable within the time frame you outline and give staff a way to measure their progress. For instance, integrate a task chart that outlines each weekly objective and the tasks and actions employees need to take to reach each objective.Related: How To Write SMART Goals (With Examples)

17. Recognize achievements

When employees complete difficult tasks or achieve a specific milestone, such as a three-year work anniversary, give recognition. Unlike positive praise for a job well-done, recognition can relate to personal goals, milestones and achievements. Recognizing staff's achievements, even personal ones, can give them a sense of pride and boost their morale.

18. Create healthy competition

Friendly competition can get teams involved and inspired to collaborate. For example, consider simple and fun contests such as who can come up with the funniest company slogan or who can go one week without saying "work." You can also create contests around work objectives like who can complete their departmental tasks first. Similarly, plan team-building events off-site where staff can compete in a fun teamwork exercise.

19. Build a nurturing culture

Create a friendly and supportive workplace where employees feel safe and valued. A healthy office culture encompasses creative thinking, learning from errors and collaborating with colleagues. For instance, develop employee-led performance evaluations that encourage staff to identify the areas they feel they need to improve. Similarly, ask open-ended questions to get employees talking about their passions and goals.

20. Encourage creativity

Facilitate creative thinking by giving your team time to collaborate and brainstorm on projects and strategies. Schedule regular team collaboration sessions where employees can ideate in groups and share concepts. Let staff direct brainstorming sessions and avoid directing the ideation process, even if you know something won't work. Letting teams direct and create their own strategies for meeting goals promotes free-thinking and creative solutions.

21. Promote social activities

Give employees the freedom to socialize during work hours. For instance, schedule one day per week for team lunches, set up a team profile on social media or another method for encouraging teams to communicate and interact. Regular corporate events where teams can get together and socialize are another option to get staff to connect.

22. Provide new hire training

Ensure new employees have the training and orientation they need to be successful on the job. For instance, if your company requires new hires to complete a probationary period, use it as a way to support their development and understanding of the company, its mission and how their role fits into the work culture.Related: 30-60-90 Day Plan: What It Is and How To Create and Use One (Example Included)

23. Offer educational benefits

Provide continuing education or certification training to employees. This can show staff that you care about their career goals and aspirations and that you're willing to help them advance. Scholarship programs, certification "boot camps" and professional workshops that result in credits towards a license can support employees' desire to advance and inspire their motivation.

24. Provide essential resources

When teams complete projects, they need tools and resources to do it. Ensure your staff has everything they need to complete essential tasks and to achieve objectives. For instance, if the marketing team would benefit from analytics software, find a means to provide the tools to make their jobs more efficient.

25. Ask for employee input

Ask about your team's ideas, concerns and suggestions. Encourage employees to give their input when making important operational decisions. For instance, if upper-level management is looking to purchase and integrate a new customer relationship management (CRM) software, ask your staff for their input on what features to look for, what functions they will need and additional input to help management make the best decision.

26. Make time for individuals

Schedule more one-on-one time to speak with team members regarding their workflow, goals or progress. During these short meetings, discuss individual progress goals, encourage employee feedback about your performance and provide specific feedback to help your teams build more confidence in their work and boost their motivation.

27. Promote wellness at work

Encourage employees to focus on their health and wellbeing by incorporating wellness-at-work strategies. For instance, call in an organic catering company for lunch so employees have healthy options. Set up space in the office with simple fitness equipment to inspire employees to take a short fitness break. Healthy employees are more productive and satisfied, which ultimately boosts motivation in the workplace. 

12 Motivation Questions To Ask Employees

When employees feel motivated in their roles, they're more likely to produce quality work and commit to a company long-term. You can gain valuable feedback from employees regarding whether they feel happy in their positions by asking motivation questions through surveys or one-on-one meetings. Review the answers to these questions to better understand how you can help employees feel more motivated and engaged at work.In this article, we explain why it's important to ask your employees motivation questions and provide examples of possible questions to present to your team members. 

Why is it important to provide motivation questions for employees?

It's important to ask employees questions regarding their motivation because motivation drives them to be productive and successful in their roles. Employees who feel excited and motivated to work at the company and in their position often deliver quality work, stay with the company long-term and contribute valuable ideas that increase the company's performance.Asking team members questions about what impacts their workplace motivations helps you gain a better understanding of how you can make them feel more supported, encouraged and engaged, so they'll continue to feel driven to contribute valuable work. These questions also allow employees and managers to foster healthy, communicative relationships that make the employee feel more comfortable and heard at the company.You can gain this insight by holding meetings and directly asking employees these motivation questions, or you can send out a survey that gains their opinions on what you're doing correctly and how you can better manage and motivate them as their supervisor. 

Sample motivation questions to ask employees

When building your list of motivation questions to ask employees, think about certain elements within their role or in the company that may impact their motivation to deliver quality assignments. These can be factors like company culture, clarity in their role and responsibilities or guidance from you or other possible supervisors. Sample motivation questions to consider asking your employees include:

1. Are there any outside factors that impact your motivation or ability to complete your work by given deadlines?

This question allows you to better understand which external factors like family, friends, health or other personal challenges may keep employees from performing effectively in their role. This is a great chance for you to demonstrate your willingness to provide solutions to any outside issues they're having that affect their performance. You can use this question to create flexible schedules or adjustments to better work around their personal lives.For instance, if an employee is having problems finding after-school care for their children and believes this is affecting their ability to focus on tasks, you can suggest letting them work from home after picking up their child or allowing them to leave work early to pick up their kids if they come into work earlier that day. Providing solutions to these problems proves you care about their work-life balance and helps them focus on tasks without feeling overwhelmed about outside obstacles.Related: The Ultimate Guide to Work-Life Balance

2. What makes you excited to work at this company and complete your tasks?

Knowing why employees enjoy working at your company tells you what you're doing right and what you should continue doing. If there are certain tasks they enjoy completing, try to assign them more similar work items. Participating in responsibilities they're excited about often makes your employees put more effort into them and deliver an impressive final product. They'll also perform these tasks more effectively if they know you'll continue assigning work items they enjoy if they consistently do well.

3. What improvements would you make about this company or your role?

This question gives your employees the chance to provide valuable input on your performance as a manager and explain how satisfied they are with their role and the company. Use their answer as a way to guide you on what you've done well to make them feel comfortable in their position and possible ways to make their work environment more enjoyable.It's best to gain anonymous feedback for this answer so employees can provide honest and constructive criticisms, knowing they won't experience any negative repercussions. You should take their answers as suggestions to become a stronger manager who wants to see their employees succeed. Take action by fixing the problems they mention to show them you listen to and value their feedback.

4. Which company values do you believe align well with your own values?

Most employees feel more motivated to complete workplace tasks if they feel their jobs have purpose and their values align well with the company's. Learn which values your employees relate to the most and continuously uphold them as a manager and encourage your team members to do the same. When employees notice you actively practicing values they care about, this may encourage them to stay with your organization longer.

5. Do any of your responsibilities feel too difficult or time-consuming to complete?

This question is especially important to ask if you see your employees submitting some of their projects past their deadlines. Rather than taking disciplinary action, it's important to ask employees where they're facing the most challenges when completing assignments. This allows you to provide necessary assistance to help employees improve their performance, learn strategies for handling difficult projects and find ways to more efficiently complete more work items.

6. Do you completely understand your role and what's expected of you?

Some employees may deliver lower-quality work because they don't fully understand their duties and what's expected of them in their role. This is why open communication between managers and employees is so important. If employees are more comfortable around you, they'll feel more confident asking you common questions about their job title or certain assignments. Gaining clarity regarding their position and responsibilities can increase employees' confidence when completing work items, which allows them to perform more effectively.

7. What inspires you to be successful in your role every day?

This question helps you gain a greater understanding of what drives your employees to complete their job duties each day. They may express their passion for working on certain tasks, collaborating with their team members or submitting work that they're confident helps others. Find what excites your employees about their role and continuously use it to motivate them further and keep them happily performing on your team.For example, if an employee answers that positive feedback from their manager drives them to be successful, continue to regularly give them praise and input to help them feel more appreciated in their role.Related: 14 Short-Term Goals To Improve Your Career Today

8. What do you enjoy the most about our company culture?

Asking your employees questions like this tells them you value their happiness at work and want to continue creating a more enjoyable atmosphere. Maintaining a strong company culture can make employees feel more excited to interact with one another, which often increases collaboration and communication in the workplace.When employees have a good time at work, they'll feel more motivated to come into the office each day to continuously engage in holiday parties, group projects, company retreats or any other fun activities you have to offer them.

9. Do you feel comfortable speaking your mind at this company?

Employees often feel more motivated to complete their role if they feel confident and comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas. It's important to encourage a positive environment, where employees listen to, praise and encourage each others' ideas.If you practice this during meetings or brainstorming sessions, you'll typically discover more unique and valuable ideas that can drastically improve the company's performance. Consider giving each of your employees time to speak in each meeting and instruct others to provide positive and constructive feedback on everyone's thoughts and opinions.

10. What are your career goals? Do you believe we're helping you achieve those goals?

Many employees feel more motivated in their position if they're working toward a certain goal. Giving them goals and milestones to pursue and conquer often makes them work harder to complete them. You can more easily create milestones for your team if you understand what their own personal career goals are. This allows you to provide guidance and strategies to help them develop the skills to reach them.Many employees choose to stay or pursue a role at another company that offers opportunities for advancement, so asking this question tells them that you offer plenty of opportunities for them to advance. Consistently moving up in their role also means employees may stay with your company longer and can eventually accomplish more advanced responsibilities and make bigger-picture decisions in upper-level positions.Related: Your Guide to Promotion Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

11. Do you feel I support you as a manager?

One goal you should set for these questions with employees is to build a stronger relationship and communication method with your team. This question can tell you how strong your relationship with your employees is and ways you can support and encourage them to reach goals and perform better in their role. Make sure you receive this feedback positively and constructively and take action to help your employees feel more valued and motivated as team members.Related: The Best Ways To Motivate Your Team

12. What career advice can I give you?

This question positions yourself as a mentor for your employees and tells them you want to see them be successful in their career. Many team members who want to continue working in their field may eventually strive to move up in a higher role similar to yours, so they can benefit from learning your perspective and insight to help them reach similar achievements as you in the future.