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How To Motivate Employees

By Edited Sep 17, 2016 0 0

Aspects Of Motivating Employees

It's Not As Hard As You Think It Is

Have you ever had an employee that seems depressed because he or she is at work, and not fulfilling their greater purpose? Or maybe you have had an employee that feels as if he is paid little to no attention to? Maybe it is you that has no motivation when at work, going through each day as if it will last forever. It is very likely that employees can become unmotivated over time. Motivation is a key factor for success in the workplace. If an employee has no motive for being at work, then that employee’s work will not be at the same level as the work of another employee that does have motivation in the workplace.

Overall, I am here to talk to you about the aspects of motivating employees, and getting the most of out all of those wonderful people. Here is a small road map for where we will be going.

How to Motivate Employees Overview
Credit: Ricky Thompson

Motivation Defined

But what is motivation? According to John Thil’s fantastic book, Business Communication Essentials, motivation is defined as being, “the combination of forces that drive people to satisfy their needs.” All human beings have the same exact motivating factors within them, but individuals respond to some of these motivators better or worse than other individuals. Now that we have defined what motivation is, we can describe what motivates individuals.

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What Motivates People?

There are several different motivating factors that help propel people to the next level in being motivated. These different factors are:

  • Safety and Security
  • Affiliation and Belonging
  • Power and control
  • Achievement

Safety and security refers to the well-being of the individual himself or the people that are closest to that person, especially family. These needs can be financial, hospitality, or even protection of that person’s identity. Affiliation and belonging refers to a person’s need to be part of a group. When an employee feels as if he or she is not a part of the group, his or her motivation decreases over time. Power and control refers to an individual’s ability to be in control of the moment, and shape their own destiny. Achievement refers to an individual’s need for a sense of accomplishment in their work, or to be admired by others for doing that particular work.

While these are the main motivating factors for individuals in the workplace, here are a few more motivational factors that apply to most people in the workplace. 

  • Adventure and Distraction
  • Knowledge and Exploration
  • Self-actualization
  • Helping Others

Adventure and distraction refers to a person’s need for a break from the daily routine, which encourages curiosity and creativity when at work. Knowledge, exploration, and understanding refers to a person’s need to keep learning, to continuously propel themselves to the next level in their work. Self-actualization refers to an employee’s need to find their true purpose in life, and be all that they can be. Helping others is self-explanatory. It refers to the belief that the individual is making change in other people’s lives through his or her own actions. It is also great for self-gratification.

Money As A Motivator

This is the most prominent of all the motivators for employees. Money is most likely one of the biggest motivational factors on the face of this Earth. You can do anything with money. You can purchase food and shelter, and even ideas and workers. Money is so important to all of us, because we do everything with it. We eat with it, buy our cars with it, and we always have some of it in our wallets, in one form or another. Credit cards and debit cards count too. Employees are almost always interested in making more money, and the promise of being able to do that is very enticing and helps develop great motivation.

The Career Path

Career Path Ladder

The ability to move up within a company is something that cannot be understated. This is a major motivational factor, and this is also the reason why many people get up out of bed in the morning. They wake up with the goal in mind that they want to move up the corporate ladder, make more money, and grab the power that is available at the top of the food chain. We all usually start at the bottom, as team members, and work our way through middle management, then eventually, if we are lucky, make it to be a top executive. This is usually a very long process from start to finish, but if most or all of the goals for an individual are met for their career path, then they are usually a happier person in the very end.


Now that we have went over what motivates individuals, lets talk about how to motivate those employees of ours, shall we? There are several different ways to motivate other people within an organization and here are a few different ways that we can do that.

Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways in order to motivate another individual. The best part about it? It’s completely free. Think about a time when you did a great job on something and the supervisor or person above you said that you were doing a great job. Remember how it felt at the time to hear the words, “good job.” It felt great, didn’t it? Every single time you give positive reinforcement to a coworker, they get that exact feeling that you are remembering right no. That feeling is very powerful, and is also a strong motivator.

Another tool that everyone has at their disposal is the big picture approach. If a coworker is not feeling motivated to the correct work, but instead slacks off and cuts corners where he can, then he or she should be reminded of the big picture. This will explain to that person why they should not cut corners, and why those particular steps in the process are there. This will help motivate that employee, and hopefully they will continue working with that in mind, and do the work correctly and in the order that the steps need to be completed in. This is yet another great free idea that anyone can use, and with practice, use it effectively to motivate your coworkers.


How to Motivate Employees Rewards
Credit: Ricky Thompson

Rewarding a coworker is also a very good motivational tool that managers and executives have in their repertoire. By offering a pay raise, praise, a promotion, or offering a title that comes with more power, these options are great motivational tools that keep employees from slacking off and doing the bare minimum amount of work. The potential reward is enticing to others, so it encourages correct behavior for the employees in order to have a chance at either money, praise, power, or promotion in the company.

Why Should We Motivate?

After describing what motivation is and how to motivate people, the “why” should be investigated in this part of the equation.

There are several reasons why we should motivate others, and those include increased productivity, larger profit margins, greater employee satisfaction, and lower turnaround rate. These are all great reasons why everyone in the workplace should be motivated. It creates an environment full of structure, positive thinking, and equality in the workplace. It fosters growth for the company, and for the individual as well. The profit margins are higher, meaning that more people can be hired, more and better training can be applied to employees, and more rewards and promotions can be given out to coworkers at all levels. While these are just some of the many reasons why we should motivate others, let us talk for a minute about how to NOT motivate another person in the workplace.

What Not To Do

Don’t ever steal another person’s credit when you had absolutely nothing to do with whatever they were working on. If you do, you will not only lose faith in yourself, but the employee whose work you stole will lose all confidence in you, and that results in a lack of trust and respect.

Never lose your temper while at work. While individuals will make mistakes, and I promise you, they will make mistakes, there is no need to lose your temper when that situation arises. Losing your temper in front of others shows that you cannot handle the stress of the job and the stress of having to fix mistakes, and you are not able to motivate people to do better. Instead, it puts the person that made the mistake in a frame of mind that he can’t do anything correctly, and will lose any, or at least most, of his motivation to work.

The final thing to never do is forget to praise others when they deserve it. Did a coworker spend an extra 15 minutes on a research document making sure that it was error-free? That should be praised, because of the attention to detail that employee had in that last few minutes before he submitted the manuscript that he or she was working on.



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  1. John Thil Business Communication Essentials. Boston: Pearson, 2014.

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