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Why should you have motivated employees? Have a look at the downside: listless but skilled employees carry out the working tasks by the book, half-heartedly. And yet they continue to draw a full salary. In the medium term, they can turn out to be a disruptive influence for an entire team.

Nowadays employees rarely stay loyal to a company for a lifetime. Still, providing positive incentives can lead to greater productivity and satisfaction. When framework conditions encompass a modern, flexible, and understanding company culture, the skilled workers feel also encouraged to apply for the open positions.

Tip 1: Provide a Fair Salary

Sometimes, existential fears act as a temporary mainspring of action. Then again, they are not a suitable motivational tool for a professional working environment. A manager who expects his employees to be motivated has to provide a fair salary.

Salary increases and promotions foster employee motivation at work. However, their effects on motivation are usually short-lived. To keep employee motivation high, a more promising method are prizes and incentive bonuses, along with the additional incentives (usually monetary), that reward specific employee performance.

The incentives should be managed very carefully so that their positive impact outweighs any potential negative aspects of this method. When a monetary reward is collected monthly, a failure to quickly achieve it comes with pressure or demotivation.

In an Employee Referral Program, for example, individual rewards are of utmost importance to its success. Firstbird’s current HR study provides a benchmark and shows how companies worldwide deal with employee rewards. It also provides information about the optimal timing to pay out the monetary reward and what should be its appropriate amount.

Tip 2: Offer Opportunities for Professional Growth

Money is probably the classic extrinsic motivating factor. Instead, its counterpart, the intrinsic motivation, consists of several aspects. At the core of intrinsic motivation is the need to give the work some purpose.

What matters here is not a material reward. It is all about personal satisfaction. Therefore, intrinsic motivation plays an important role in many of the tips gathered in this article.

To intrinsically motivate their staff, managers should keep a close eye on their specific skills. This topic requires to be taken into consideration very seriously. Providing corporate training programs to the employees gives them the opportunity for professional growth.

To bring out their full potential, which may rely on their passions, employees should be fully engaged. The employer gains long-term benefits from a well-trained and appropriately challenged skilled worker. In the best scenario, the employee remains loyal to the company.

Tip 3: Express/Show Appreciation

Motivated employees have to be aware that their work contributes to the company’s success. Thus, receiving verbal encouragement from the managers is generally gratifying.
Yet, make certain that you are making good use of them. Those who overpraise small efforts with empty talks lack credibility in the long run.

Thus, the appreciation shouldn’t come to the employees in the form of lip service. On the contrary, managers should be able to express constructive criticism.

That means that managers‘ feedback should acknowledge a good achievement but also provide specific recommendations on how to make positive improvements. Giving good feedback to the employees means that you’re giving value to their work.

Tip 4: Be a Good Leadership Role Model

Often, employees’ motivation at work depends on the relationship they have with their managers. Managers‘ behaviour shapes the entire Company Culture, therefore the Leadership should stand as a role model by providing the values and the standards the employees can be inspired by.

Which one is the “right” or the most effective leadership model depends on the company in question. Many of them rely less and less on traditional pyramid structures, following the trend of a flat organization. Pyramid structures are increasingly perceived to be restrictive and frustrating, especially in creative work environments.

For this main reason, managers should encourage open and transparent communication in the workplace. As a manager, you should promote an engaging work environment. That also includes handing over important tasks to a competent staff of skilled workers. It is one way to show you trust your employees.

Moreover, handing over the responsibility to your employees will increase their self-confidence at work. When hiring a new employee, it is also highly recommended to involve the staff in the recruiting process, as for example with an employee referral program.

Tip 5: Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Almost all worldwide companies operating in different industries tailor offerings accordingly to their specific customers‘ needs. Their goal is to keep pace with the emerging needs in our modern society, among which the celebration/expression of individuality stands out. This emerging need is also changing the working methods. The sheer variety of different lifestyles requires modern companies to be flexible on several fronts.

What many employees demands of their working conditions is to achieve a satisfactory balance between private life and career. Flexible working hours that can be tailored to individual needs can therefore be an extremely effective tool to foster an employee’s motivation to work. Furthermore, flexible working hours don’t regard just this matter.

Working from home has become extremely important due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Having flexible working hours is an advantage in terms of a healthier work-life balance that employees won’t turn a blind eye to even when the pandemic is over.

Tip 6: Set the Right Goals

It is not a secret that setting goals pose a challenge, fostering this way employees‘ motivation to achieve them. On the other hand, when goals are missing, employees are lost and confused. This leads them to second-guess the importance and the value of their work. However, not every goal has the same impact on employee motivation. Frequent attainments of a recurring objective are as much ineffective as pursuing an unachievable one.

To find the right balance when setting goals is key. Great goals emphasize on enthusiasm, entrepreneurial ambition, and on the desire for career advancement. The willingness to attain a big objective gives purpose to the work commitment. Therefore, they should be set with great attention. It is also of utmost importance for them to be doable. Employees shouldn’t have the feeling that their achievement is just a pipe dream.

Managers who want to take a cue from the motivational techniques and tools used in large and successful companies (like Google) should take a closer look at the OKRs. This acronym stands for „Objectives and Key Results“ and represents a goal-setting framework used as a tool by HR managers in an employee management system. This tool defines the individual activities of the employees which are closely linked to the higher-level company objective, keeping them this way committed to the achievement of the main goal.

Tip 7: Build an Error Management Culture

The path that leads to the attainment of a goal is dotted with mistakes well-handled. How the company deals with errors has a direct impact on the working environment.

Blaming and scolding employees who have done a mistake outlines a hostile and intimidating work environment. These working conditions do not leave room for innovative ideas to thrive. Furthermore, we live in a complex world, in which challenges could sometimes be met/faced/ with a long-standing Trial and Error Theory.

Managers should give some margin of errors to the proactive employees. Thus, instead of „punishing“ them for their mistakes, leaders are recommended to join the forces and discuss the learnings and a better solution for an issue or similar issues that may arise in the future.


Although motivating skilled workers can sometimes be challenging, it is almost always worth the effort. Employee motivation techniques and tools are as different as the people themselves. For this main reason, we don’t claim to provide a complete guide to how to foster employee motivation. We are just claiming that managers who:

  • Listen
  • Trust
  • Allows room for professional development / career advancement
  • Respect and adapt to employees‘ personal needs

and who are able to express appreciation for their employees‘ work (not „only“ through monetary incentives) significantly increase their chances to have highly motivated employees.

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