Motivate Your Employees

Motivating your employees doesn't have to be a challenge anymore. It's simple. If you want to motivate your employees, you have to make them feel excited to come to work every day, and to spend time with you and each other. So how do you do it? Just follow these easy steps.


Creating a Friendly Work Environment

  1. Create a pleasant atmosphere. Your employees spend a large chunk of their lives working in their office, so you should try to make the office look as friendly and appealing as possible. If you create a friendly and comfortable atmosphere for your employees, then they will be more eager to go to work every day. Here's how to do it:[1]
    • Create a space that isn't too cramped. Do your employees feel like they have room to walk around and breathe, or like they're crammed in like sardines? The more free they feel to move around, the happier they'll feel.
    • Make sure the temperature in the office isn't set to be too hot or too cold. Your employees won't be motivated if they're freezing or so hot that they can't focus.
    • Create a pleasant ambience through lighting. Though you may not be able to help it if your office has harsh fluorescent lights, you could make a big difference by putting up a few lower-wattage bulbs that are easier on the eye.
    • Make sure your employees have lots of natural light and position them next to windows whenever you can. They will be less likely to feel stifled if they are near light and fresh air.
    • If your environment is more casual, you can set up more relaxing furniture around the office and tell your employees that they could work there from time to time as well, if they don't have to be rooted to their desks.
  2. Take advantage of your wall space. Your employees will spend a lot of time staring at your walls, so this is a great place to catch their attention and motivate them into doing better work. Here are a few things you can put on your walls:
    • Put up a bulletin board where people can post pictures, birthday cards, and any relevant personal information that they want to share with their coworkers. This will make people feel more relaxed and comfortable, and they may even smile when they peek at the board.
    • Recognize outstanding employees. Though you don't have to post the "employee of the month" on your wall, you can post a small notice or write a person's achievements on a whiteboard for the whole office to see.
    • If your company is going strong, put up some posters that show the company's progress to motivate the employees to do good work.
    • You can put up a few motivational slogans, but don't overdo it. You don't want your employees rolling their eyes at your overly-enthusiastic signs.
    • Hang a few pictures that are easy on the eyes. Don't put up loud and garish posters; instead, take the time to put up a few pictures or paintings that leave a pleasant impression.
  3. Use food as incentive. Don't underestimate the power of having some food around the office. People will be much more excited to come to work if they know that there will be some food waiting for them. Here are a few food tricks that will motivate your employees:
    • Keep a kitchen stocked with tea and coffee so your employees spend more time hanging around the office instead of stepping out for coffee.
    • Bring in bagels and donuts for breakfast one day a week or month. This will get your employees to come to the office earlier and to spend more time there.
    • Order pizza for lunch once in a while. You can even institute a "pizza day" once a month.
    • Have snacks around the office. Make popcorn, bring in chips and guacamole, or bake brownies.
    • Declare a potluck day. This is a cheap way to give everyone something good to eat, and to have people talking.
    • Bring in a cake or cupcakes on an employee's birthday.
    • Create a festive environment through food. Bring in Easter eggs around Easter, matzoh during Passover, and candy canes during Christmas to make everyone feel at home.
    • Just remember to have healthy options available as well. Some people gain weight when they start working in an office with a lot of food options.
  4. Institute casual dress days. Casual dress days will make people more excited to go to work, and will make them feel more comfortable in the work environment. You can institute a casual Friday, or randomly choose to add extra casual days to the calendar.
    • You can even make your casual dress days themed. If the Super Bowl or March Madness is coming up, everyone can wear the colors of their favorite teams.
    • Your casual attire can also be used to highlight upcoming holidays when the time is right. During Christmas, people can wear silly reindeer antlers, or people can wear orange and black around Halloween.

Recognizing and Rewarding Your Employees

  1. Recognize your employees on an individual basis. If they've done something truly outstanding, then you should take the time to let them know. Instead of telling people that everyone is doing great, take the time to pull a specific person into your office, or to write an email or a note along with that person's check, to let him know that his work is truly outstanding.
    • You can also recognize the employee by posting something about the employee's work on your front bulletin board, or sending along an email highlighting the person's achievements.
    • If the person did something truly exceptional, like sign a new and prestigious client, you can stand up and make an announcement to praise that person. Don't be afraid to follow your words up with a round of applause, as long as it feels natural.
    • Recognizing your employees' individual efforts is important, but you should make sure that nobody feels left out if you're always recognizing the same few employees.
  2. Recognize your employees as a group. You should take the time to let your team know that they are doing solid work as a unit, and show that you appreciate their efforts at all times. Taking just a few minutes out of your day to praise your employees for good team work can motivate them to work much harder. Here's how to do it:
    • Hold a meeting to discuss the company as a whole, and to show how your employees' efforts are contributing to the mission of the company. Your employees don't want to feel like cogs in a wheel, but like they're contributing to something valuable, so take the time to make them feel special. If you have facts and figures to show much your team is contributing to the company, even better.
    • Send weekly emails, updates, or newsletters that tell your employees that their hard work is paying off. Recognize the efforts of your team and use positive adjectives to highlight their good work.
    • If you feel that there is room for improvement, that's okay, too. Just be honest with your employees about the work that still needs to be done. Make a mental note of praising your employees more than you give them negative feedback. This will make them feel much more positive about the hard work that they do.
  3. Reward your employees for hard work. Setting up a system of rewards is an excellent way to motivate your employees. Whether you set up a contest to see who can accomplish something the fastest on a certain day, or if you have a competition to see who can generate the most revenue by the end of the month, any contest that has a reward, even if it's silly, will keep your employees motivated to produce solid work. Here are some great rewards to offer your employees for a job well-done:
    • Reward them with small gifts. Give them two tickets to a movie, a gift certificate to a store, or even highly-coveted tickets to a sports game. Make sure to check in with your employees about what they think makes a good reward in advance. Your employees won't be as motivated if they aren't excited about the prize.
    • Reward your employees with time off. You'll be surprised to see how quickly your employees start working when you offer to let them leave 15 or 30 minutes early, or if you give them the option of coming to work an hour late the next day.
    • Reward your employees with a telecommute. The employee who does the most work can be allowed to work from home for a day. Just make sure this doesn't make it look like everyone would prefer to always be at home -- remember, your employees are supposed to be excited about coming to work.
    • Reward your employees by doing their work for them. People love seeing their boss do their jobs, whether it's to keep the company bathroom clean or make a few calls to clients.
    • Reward them with casual dress. Employees love dressing casually, and that employee can earn the privilege to dress casual for any given day.
    • Reward your employees with lunch. The employee who wins the work contest can earn a free lunch from you -- an an opportunity to get to know you better.

Developing Great Relationships in the Workplace

  1. Get to know your employees. You may feel like you're too busy to take the time to get to know your employees -- well, think again. If you develop a stronger relationship with your employees, you'll not only have a better sense of what makes them tick, but they'll also like you more and will be more motivated to work for you as a result. Here's how to do it:[2]
    • Initiate a "coffee Friday" where you spend twenty or thirty minutes chatting with an employee over coffee in your office. You don't have to talk about work at all. You can just get to know each other better by talking about your interests, hobbies, and families. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback during these meetings. Your employees can help you know what really motivates them.
    • Learn something about your employees' families. Remember that your employees are real people with real families and real struggles. If you know the names of their husbands, children, or even pets, you'll have more to talk about, and you'll look more caring when you ask about their families.
    • Learn something about your employees' interests. If you find out that one of your employees watches one of your favorite TV shows, you can use it as a conversational point.
    • Remember that there's a difference between building a strong relationship with your employees and building an intimate friendship with your employees. Your conversations and contact should be friendly and open, but not too personal.
  2. Create social events. Having a few social events on the calendar will help people in your office get to know each other. People will be much more excited to come to work and to do their work if they are friendly, or even friends, with their coworkers. Here's what to do:
    • Have people go out to lunch together once a month. This will help people feel less isolated during lunch time and can help them get to know each other.
    • Create a team bowling or softball league. This will not only be a great way for your employees to bond, but people will feel more of a sense of team spirit after working together as a part of a different kind of team. Bonus points if you can play against other companies or branches of your department.
    • Have a happy hour for your employees to relax and laugh after work. This may be organized by one of your employees, but don't be afraid to join in if the mood is right.
    • Create a team volunteering league. You and your employees will not only be doing a good deed, but they'll get to know each other better.
    • Create team memories (by taking pictures, saving special emails, saving diplomas) and bring them back at a corporate event, so that people remember what great time they had at work.
  3. Use theme days to your advantage. Theme days are a great way for people to get to know each other and be more excited about coming to work. During theme days, people are more relaxed, and have an easier time getting to know each other while working. Here are a few things you can do to develop stronger relationships in the workplace through fun themes:
    • Have a food theme day. Everyone will be responsible for cooking or bringing in a food from a certain type of cuisine, such as Mexican. If you have a diverse office, you can have everyone bring in a meal from his or her culture or background.
    • Dress up for holidays. Though you don't want your employees smearing Halloween makeup all over their keyboards, you can let people dress up for Halloween and even have a costume contest.
    • Have a sports theme day. Everyone can dress up as their favorite sports hero.
    • Have a Hawaiian theme day. Pick a summer day for everyone to dress like they're on vacation, and people will feel more relaxed.


  • Be friendly and approachable. Greet every employee with a smile and a "good morning", "good day", etc to convey that you are very glad to see him.
  • Don't reprimand an employee publicly. Schedule a meeting in your office to discuss the problem.
  • Show genuine interest in your employees. Engage them to talk about themselves while showing interest in what they have to say. Employees love employers who care about them personally, rather than just the work they do.
  • Team-building exercises are another great way to improve the skills of your employees and to develop stronger working relationships.
  • Be supportive of your employees' non-work life. Recognize the challenges they face and extend genuine concern for them when they're in a time of trouble.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for feedback. You can get great insight into how to motivating your employees if you know how they feel about their work and the workplace.
  • If there is an area where the company is failing, ask for your employees opinions and make them feel part of the team!
  • Think about leaders who have motivated you. What about them inspires you? What characteristics and ideals held by these leaders are ones that gel with you and motivate you? Use this knowledge to build your own motivational skills.
  • Be lavish with your praise, and parsimonious with your criticism. Remember that more harm is done by criticism than by over-praising employees.
  • Having a raffle is a fun way to motivate employees, even if the prize is silly.
  • Employee training and retraining is another great way to build motivation. Just make it sound like a fun and challenging activity, instead of just some busy work that everyone is dreading.

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