The Importance of Employee Motivation

The workplace is changing, and employee motivation is at the forefront of these changes. It wasn’t long ago that remaining at the same company through retirement despite the work environment was the standard. Today, however, people want more. Where pay and benefits used to be king, people now require a company culture that aligns with their values and keeps them motivated.

Unmotivated employees are often a recipe for disaster. Complacency, lack of productivity, and ultimately attrition result when employees feel a lack of creativity and energy in their work. In addition, a lack of motivation often permeates throughout a work environment, making it challenging to hire new employees.

Motivated employees, on the other hand, are the lifeblood of a thriving business. A motivated workforce is an engaged workforce, and engaged employees are more creative, innovative, and productive than their less motivated counterparts. Managers should consider employee engagement as one step in a positive cycle of company culture creation. Motivated employees engage more meaningfully in their work, leading to more innovation and ultimately resulting in flourishing company culture. And working at a flourishing company is motivating.

While there are many ways to bolster employee motivation, here are three tips managers can implement with little effort.

Employee Motivation through Gratitude

Gratitude is a simple and impactful way to help bolster motivation and productivity in a work environment. Even something as simple as a quick appreciation email can go a long way to improve employee motivation and engagement. In a 2011 study by Robert Emmons and Anjali Mishra, participants who experienced gratitude felt higher levels of motivation and increased energy toward their work. In addition, these same participants were more productive in pursuing their goals.

Feelings of appreciation and gratitude are also linked to prosocial behavior or helping behavior. In one study, fundraisers who received a genuine show of appreciation from their manager made more fundraising calls after the gratitude announcement than before.

Play to Your People’s Strengths

In addition to feeling appreciated, it’s essential that people feel like their talents, skills, and strengths are used correctly. Research shows that when employees use their strengths, they feel more engaged in their work and experience enhancements in self-efficacy and resilience. Managers who ignore or misuse their people’s strengths are more likely to see employees disengage from their responsibilities. Of course, strengths use requires managers to learn more about their employees’ strengths. Based on this knowledge, managers can delegate tasks aligning with employees’ strengths.

Help People Develop Skills

Professional development is another way to enhance employee motivation. Lean practices include a continuous improvement mindset, which should extend beyond problem-solving potential company issues. Employees need to know that managers aren’t only invested in their current skill set but also in the skillset they have the potential to develop.

Offering professional development opportunities is an excellent way for your employees to engage in meaningful learning.


Employee motivation will take time to build, especially if it’s not a current company strength. However, starting small with these three tips can yield impressive advances in company motivation.