Best Motivational Books For Employees: Top 12 Picks For Appreciation Gifts

As a small business owner, you know how important your employees are to your success. Recognizing your top employees is an important part of retaining the best talent and recruiting new, qualified employees to your location. One of the best ways to show your appreciation while also encouraging growth and development is to gift your top employees with motivational books that can help them succeed in their professional and personal lives. Whether you choose to give your employees a motivational book along with their bonus, or you prefer to wait until the holiday season, these are great titles for you to choose from.

The importance of motivating your employees

Motivating your employees goes beyond just financial incentives or job promotions. It’s about fostering a culture where each team member feels valued, inspired, and driven to contribute to the organization’s success. Engaged and motivated employees are more productive, demonstrate higher job satisfaction, and are more likely to stay with the company long term. 

A motivated workforce can lead to increased creativity, better problem-solving, and enhanced team collaboration. By investing in employee growth and providing them with resources, like motivational books, you are showing your commitment to their personal and professional development, which in turn fosters loyalty and a higher level of job performance.

Related read: 70 Awesome Employee Motivation Ideas To Try Right Now

12 motivational books to gift your top employees

1. The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry

Todd Henry’s book was inspired from his podcast, in which he helps to inspire others to be creative. This book is focused on helping people generate creativity and motivating them to try harder to be creative in the workplace and in their personal lives. The goal of the book is to help people feel centered and focused when they feel frustrated or are having difficulty solving a problem. It aims to provide people with the tips they need to generate creativity on the fly and come up with workable solutions that will help inspire others around them.

2. Flying Without a Net: Turn Fear of Change into Fuel for Success by Thomas J. DeLong

For some employees, becoming comfortable at a job and feeling secure there can actually be detrimental to the long-term success of the business. Top-performing employees who’ve been with the company for a long time can benefit from this book, which aims to help people become more comfortable with change. Instead of fearing change and becoming stagnant, this book allows people to feel inspired by change and be motivated to make the best of a new situation. The book is known for its relatable language, making it a great choice for anyone in any type of industry. It’s the perfect choice for a small business that is on the verge of changing, growing, or reinventing itself.

3. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica

This book is designed to help individuals become acquainted with who they are and what they’re most passionate about. By helping people discover their own passions, the book then aims to motivate people to use their talents, skills and passions within the workplace. It helps people to become creative about their own contributions to a company, while also feeling fulfilled and satisfied. It’s a wonderful combination between motivating people to work better and harder for their company while also improving themselves as individuals.

4. The Business Devotional by Lillian Hayes Martin

This is a motivational book that continues to inspire people for an entire year. Set up similarly to a religious devotional, this book provides people with small snippets of motivation and inspiration each day for 365 days. On each page, readers will find an inspirational quote from someone famous. Short descriptions about that person’s life are included, and it’s typically a story designed to help motivate and inspire people who are active in the business world. This is a practical book for 21st century employees, who are working with alternate work schedules and various other obligations.

5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

This book is written to help people better understand what motivates them within the workplace. While most people would answer that their salary, paycheck, and benefits motivate them to continue to go to work each day, this book explains that people may truly be looking for more without even realizing it. It helps employees figure out what drives them each day on the job, and helps them to feel more inspired to do better each day. This book states that people are more driven by creativity and connecting with others than they are by rewards and monetary gain.

6. StandOut by Marcus Buckingham

This is an interactive book that forces employees to evaluate their own actions and behaviors within the workplace, thus motivating them to make better decisions for the company. It provides employees with realistic workplace scenarios that they themselves may face on a daily basis, and then asks them to make a decision about what they would do within 45 seconds. The purpose of the book is to help employees complete a self-assessment of their own strengths and weaknesses in a variety of workplace positions, including leadership, management, and customer service positions. It provides employees with a unique perspective about their own job performance within a company, allowing them to see where they excel and where they can improve in the future.

7. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

This book uses a surgeon’s experience in order to help employees take a look at their own roles within an organization. Essentially, this book explains how a simple yet thorough checklist can keep people on track and help them succeed within an organization. It allows employees to create their own organizational tools that they can use on the job, and strives to help employees improve communication within a company.

8. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

 Brené Brown delves deep into leadership in a world that seems rife with external challenges. She emphasizes the importance of embracing vulnerability, resilience, and values in the workplace. It’s a transformative read for employees who are navigating leadership roles or aspire to become more effective, empathetic leaders.

9. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Dr. Carol Dweck presents the idea of “fixed” vs. “growth” mindsets. This book offers insights into how adopting a growth mindset can lead to success in all areas of life, including work. By understanding the difference, employees can unlock their potential, embrace challenges, and understand that intelligence and talent can be developed.

10. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

 James Clear offers actionable strategies for forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and mastering the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. For employees, it’s a guide to boost productivity, creativity, and overall personal growth.

11. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek examines why some businesses are more innovative, influential, and profitable than others. The book urges employees and leaders to understand their ‘Why’—the purpose or belief that inspires them to do what they do, leading to greater satisfaction and success in their roles.

12. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

 In this must-read, Angela Duckworth shows that the secret to achievement is not just talent, but a blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” It’s an essential read for employees aiming to understand the role of effort in success and how persistence can outshine natural talent.


The power of literature in the workplace goes beyond just imparting knowledge. It instills values, inspires change, and provokes thought—driving employees to not only be better at their roles but also to be better individuals in their personal lives.

You know who your top employees are—they’re the ones who manage their weekly work schedule with ease and work well with their coworkers. They’re the ones who make your job as a manager or owner easier than you could have imagined possible, and they’re the ones who you need to recognize and appreciate. Find a time that’s right to show your employees that you care, and choose one of these motivational books as a gift. When you invest in your employees and help to motivate them at the same time, you’ll find that you and your business will receive more benefits than you realized were possible.

Beyond the book list, motivating your employees everyday 

Daily motivation shouldn’t be overlooked in the workplace. Small gestures can make a significant impact. Regularly acknowledge accomplishments, provide opportunities for professional development, create a positive and inclusive work environment, and encourage open communication. Offering flexible work hours, recognizing milestones, and providing a platform for employee ideas can also instill a sense of belonging and value. Remember, motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Tailor your strategies to suit individual employee needs and watch as motivation transforms your organization from the inside out.


6 Books For Great Bosses to Give or Get as Holiday Gifts, Poynter

Saturday Snapshot: Best Books to Motivate Employees, ASEC Interactive

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