Here are 4 simple ways to motivate employees. I said simple. I didn’t say easy. Like so many worthwhile things in life, it takes determination, commitment, and hard work to implement these 4 simple ways to motivate employees.

There have been hundreds of studies about motivating employees. What causes an employee to passionately perform tasks while another goes through the motions? Why does an employee seek a new company or stay with their current employer? As revealed in this study shared by, there’s a disparity between what supervisors think motivates employees and what employees say motivates them. Here are the results of the survey.

The Survey

“The typical supervisory group ranked the factors in the following order:

  1. High wages
  2. Job security
  3. Promotion in the organization
  4. Good working conditions
  5. Interesting work

However, when employees were given the same exercise and asked what affected their morale the most, their answers followed this pattern:

  1. Full appreciation of work done
  2. Feeling of being in on things
  3. Help with personal problems
  4. Job security
  5. High wages

The top three factors marked by the employees were the last three that their supervisors felt important for them.”

4 Simple Ways to Motivate Employees

Even if you don’t think recognition is the key to employee motivation, I’m confident you’ll agree that building a positive work culture and an efficient team is essential. Here are four ways to get that done.

  1. First and by far most important. Ask employees what motivates them. 

Do you know what motivates your team? If you don’t know or you hesitated before you answered you might not know. There’s a simple way to find out what motivates your team. Ask them. Sit with team members one on one, send out a survey, or ask in a team meeting, but get the conversation started and leave your door open for discussion.

“People work for a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean it motivates them other than to put in their hours and collect a check. What motivates folks to work harder and smarter? What is it that sets some employees apart? Why do some employees go above and beyond? What makes teammates care about product quality, hitting deadlines, or demonstrating excellent customer service? Is it money? The answer is yes, sometimes it is, but not for most people. Money gets people out of bed but doesn’t always make them work harder. Motivation does that. Do you know what motivates your team?” —Do You Know What Motivates Your Team? 

  1. Catch people doing things right. Recognize more than results. Share appreciation for activities and character traits. 

“There’s another critical aspect to giving recognition that’s so important that recognition may seem hollow and phony without it. Unfortunately, it’s a critical part of recognition that is almost never discussed. Would you like to know what it is? Okay then. Let’s get specific about recognition – specific recognition.” — Why Recognition is Nice but Specific Recognition is a Game Changer

  1. Have fun. Promote a positive work environment. 

There are many proven benefits of fun in the workplace. “More employment candidates are looking for cultural fit than ever before. Employees who aren’t happy are less likely to be retained, and organizations that focus on employee engagement are thriving.” —  What is the Return on Investment of Fun in the Workplace?

  1. Involve people. Seek input, ideas, and advice. Ask others their opinion. Let people know what they think matters. Listen to them. 

There has been plenty written about specific rewards to motivate employees. But the bottom line to employee motivation is—it’s not that complicated. Ask teammates what motivates them and listen. Seek input. Recognize more than results. Say thank you and have fun. It’s not rocket science. What it is, is a commitment. It’s a commitment to take the time to know your team. A commitment to follow through with recognition initiatives. It’s a commitment to prioritize the needs of the team. How committed are you to employee motivation?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash