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5 Key Motivators in the Workplace That Improve Employee Experience


  1. Increasing Communication
  2. Offering Challenging Work
  3. Recognising Achievement
  4. Boosting Team Spirit
  5. Increasing Independence

“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

In modern business, employee experience is everything. The importance that you place on how the individuals in your team operate, including how they interact with each other, is essential to achieving your business goals.

Before you can have a positive employee experience, though, you need to create an environment where your team feels motivated and engaged in their work.

In this article, I’m going to share the five most important factors that create a high-motivation workplace and improves the experience of your employees.

Eisenhower knew that finding the right motivators in the workplace was essential to success and improving employee experience, so let’s find out how to do it.

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1. Increasing Communication

Increasing Communication

The most important workplace motivator for employees is communication.

Now, communication is a word that is thrown around a lot, without many businesses pausing to really consider its meaning.

So, what exactly do I mean when I talk about increasing communication in the workplace?

Essentially, it’s all about opening up lines of dialogue. I’m a big believer that the more a team converses and interacts with each other, the better their performance will be.

Increasing communication can reduce confusion and errors in your team and improve performance. Without effective lines of communication, a business is just a group of individuals. When these individuals begin communicating effectively, they become a team that is capable of great things.

So, how do you actually use communication as a workplace motivator?

One way is to open up times in your working day for collective and individual discussion. During these times, employees can address any issues that may have arisen in the workplace.

This means taking some time to slow down. If you’re too busy to communicate with your employees, how are they ever going to bring ideas for improved performance to you?

Once your team trust that they can speak their minds, you’ll quickly find that your office becomes a hive of new ideas for success. Act on some of these ideas and pretty soon you’ll have a team that is invested in their work and motivated to make it successful.

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2. Offering Challenging Work

Challenging Work

By challenging your employees with tasks that push them outside of their comfort zone, you help them to grow and develop into a team that isn’t afraid to take on the next challenge.

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” - Harvey S. Firestone

When your employees are given tasks that ask difficult questions, they might hesitate at first but, by providing them with the support they need to succeed, you’ll see the delight in their eyes when they achieve something they didn’t think possible.

And this kind of workplace satisfaction is addictive. Once your team has a taste for exceeding expectations, they won’t want to stop.

Challenging your employees keeps their roles interesting and dynamic and helps to reduce the chance of them stagnating in the workplace. In the end, a challenged employee is an engaged employee.

If you want your employees to be self-motivating, it’s a good idea to offer them more responsibility with meaningful work. If you think an employee, or an entire team for that matter, is suffering from a lack of engagement, give them more challenging and meaningful work and watch them flourish. This is a great way to motivate your employees and increase their feeling of value.

Be careful, though. Challenging your team doesn’t just mean piling more work on their desk without any additional support. The last thing you want to do is leave employees overworked and demotivated.

To find the balance, it’s helpful to use the Challenge vs Support framework.

Challenge vs Support Framework

The takeaway is, if you’re challenging your employees, make sure you give them ample support to be able to perform.

The buck doesn’t stop with your team, though. The best way to create an atmosphere where they are comfortable to take on new challenges is to lead by example. Challenge yourself daily and you’ll inspire your team to follow suit.

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3. Recognising Achievement

Recognising Achievement

One brilliant workplace motivator you can use to improve employee experience is recognition. It might seem obvious but actually praising your employees on their achievements can be one of the best motivators out there.

Unfortunately, when deadlines are looming and the pressure is on, praise is often the first thing to be forgotten.

Recognising achievement ties into challenging your employees but this method takes it one step further. Raising the bar in the workplace is all well and good but if you don’t praise your employees when they hit that mark, you create a team that feels under-appreciated.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” - Richard Branson

Recognition doesn’t need to be carried out verbally. Some of the best techniques to motivate your employees is to set up tangible rewards for achievement. This can come in many forms; vouchers, free food/drinks in the office, whatever you feel is appropriate for your team and is inclusive of everyone.

By receiving a reward, your staff are more motivated to perform well AND you help create a positive employee experience designed around recognition.

Think about the last time you went above and beyond with a task but, for one reason or another, went unnoticed and unrecognised. It’s happened to all of us and it doesn’t feel good. I bet you were less motivated to challenge yourself afterwards, so don’t let your employees feel the same way.

Recognition and rewards don’t have to be delivered on an individual basis. A great way to inspire your employees is to announce team rewards for good work. By setting up your praise to include every member of staff, you create a positive employee experience as well as motivating them to work collectively towards their goals. Your employees will be more likely to help one another if they know that individual performance contributes to team reward.

If you’re already recognising achievement in your business but not seeing the benefits, consider whether you’re clearly demonstrating what the reward is for. By ensuring that you recap exactly what has been achieved you give a clear indication to your team as to exactly what they need to do in order to be recognised.

When dishing out recognition, it’s also very important that you remember to be consistent. When you praise an employee and reward them appropriately for their efforts, you motivate the rest of the team to do the same. If you forget to do the same for others, you can discourage them from taking on future challenges and risk appearing like you are favouring certain people.

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4. Boosting Team Spirit

Boosting Team Spirit

When you have individuals that are happy in their role, you are more likely to have a harmonious team that works together towards a common goal. This is the essence of creating a positive employee experience.

According to Harvard Business Review, "close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%" and "people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work".

It’s clear then that those who get along better at work are more motivated to perform well. When employees care about each other, they, in turn, care more about the team and business they are a part of. Why wouldn’t you want to create a great team spirit and improve employee experience? The results are obvious to see.

One way that you can understand how to create a better team spirit is to use our Mad, Sad, Glad framework. Here’s how it works:

Bring your team together and ask each employee to write down what makes them mad, sad and glad in the workplace. With this information, everyone can better understand what each person does and doesn’t enjoy about their role.

You can then create an environment that motivates staff to want to come into work each day.

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5. Increasing Independence

Increasing Independence

Allowing your workers autonomy in their roles is a proven way of increasing their engagement and motivation.

Joan Cheverie, Director of EDUCAUSE Institute Programs, had this to say, “autonomy is people’s need to perceive that they have choices, that what they are doing is of their own volition, and that they are the source of their own actions.”

If there is any key motivating factor that, once implemented, is sure to improve employee experience in the workplace, it is giving your workers more independence. By doing so, you create a self-motivating culture made up of members that look to perform well and take on more than they would if you micromanaged.

It just makes sense, you are more likely to be motivated if you’ve chosen to complete a task than if you’re told to.

As a leader, it can be tempting to micromanage your team when you are not 100% confident in their ability. Unfortunately, this results in a business environment where employees don’t feel trusted and become more demotivated than motivated.

The solution to this is to set clear goals for what you want your employees to achieve, not how you want them to achieve it. You can then regularly discuss your team’s progress, in relation to these goals, and provide any support required.

Giving your employees more freedom and flexibility is also a great way to cater to the unique individuals that make up your teams. If you force everyone to work a certain way, that might be perfect for certain members of the team, but the absolute antithesis of working style for others.

By increasing independence in the workplace, you encourage your employees to find their own way of working and thereby boost their motivation to work the way they want.

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The more eagle-eyed readers among you will notice that I haven’t mentioned money anywhere in this post. While many might consider money to be a key motivator for employees, statistics have proven that this is not necessarily the case.

Money’s inability to motivate employees can be seen across the world. In America, 36% of employees would give up $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work. That’s a staggeringly high number of people who are more motivated by their employee experience than their salary.

Employee Experience is just one essential aspect of creating high performance teams that deliver extraordinary results. My free eBook, The Seven Secrets to Building High Performance Teams – Fast!, tells you everything you need to know to turn your team into a well-oiled machine.

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About the author

Graham Wilson

Graham Wilson

I enjoy and specialise in teaching leadership skills, how to create winning strategies, how to build high performance cultures. Outcomes and results are the most important measures for me!