Published: 11 Apr 2016
Updated: 20 Apr 2022
Category: Team Building , Career Development , Human Resources

Motivation 101: how to keep employees incentivised and maximise potential


So you’ve followed our advice and hired a bevy of talented individuals with all the right credentials. But without motivation, even the brightest employee will struggle to perform to par. The good news is that, as an employer, you have the tools to energise them… and it doesn’t even have to cost you a cent! Here are the five things that you should provide your staff in order to enhance their potential and drive performance in your business:


From established business titans to Silicon Valley start-ups, a sure sign of a well-structured corporation is the presence of a training programme, where both new recruits and existing employees are oriented with the company’s core values and expectations. Led by senior staff members sharing their skills and experience, training programmes offer an interactive way for staff to learn from each other, gaining technical knowledge and practical advice for career advancement. On a macro level, training is about acknowledging that you want your team to succeed, and to eventually hold more responsibility within your institution. Another bonus? Your company earns a reputation as a great place to work and grow, attracting better talent along the way.

Work-Life Balance

Just as you may have three kids and like to go to crossfit when the day is done, be reminded that your employees also have a life outside of work. Demonstrate that you care about them as individuals by being sensitive to family emergencies or unavoidable doctor’s appointments, and respectful of their time off. It’s a small gesture, but their gratitude will often result in a tight-knit team that doesn’t take advantage of your generosity, and who are potentially more amenable to working longer hours when it’s genuinely needed. Remember: a happy employee is a productive employee!


There are few things as frustrating as not knowing if your work really matters. Particularly within larger corporations, employees often complain about feeling like an interchangeable cog in a machine, rather than a valued member of a team. Employers can promote the latter by creating semi-annual – or more frequent, if desired – checkpoints, during which feedback can be offered on performance, fostering stronger communication between levels as well as energising your staff to push that little bit harder. How should managers go about having this conversation? According to some of the Ivy League’s top psychologists, “I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations, and I know that you can reach them”, will get the desired results. This sentence makes the employee feel important, gives them an understanding of your standards and implies that they can be achieved. Try this at your next one-to-one and watch your words inspire!

Credit Where Credit’s Due

Naturally, feedback should recognise achievements, as well as areas for improvement. Without recognition, employers run the risk of staff losing motivation, and – at worst – jumping ship to somewhere they’d feel more appreciated. So before being forced to absorb the expense of recruiting, learning how best to reward your employees is a valuable investment. Positive feedback is great inspiration for people to want to work harder – try providing tangible benefits associated with a favourable review, such as a gift card or a contractual raise for reaching certain sales goals. Better yet, broadcast any good work. Even fast-food chains hang “Employee of the Month” placards for customers to see, encouraging fellow workers to strive for the same goal.

Model Behaviour

As a manager, your conduct set the tone for your entire company. You are the physical embodiment of your brand’s values, and so the way that you interact with people on a daily basis speaks louder than any motivational speeches. Whether or not sales figures are looking buoyant this month, remaining optimistic is essential, as your team will look to you to gauge the company’s position, (and nothing ruins morale like an angry boss). Last but not least, treat everyone with respect, be it the janitor or your co-founder, and you’ll find that your employees are more likely to do the same. Good vibes are contagious!

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