What’s The Best Way To Keep Employees Motivated? 16 Business Professionals Chime In

For many business owners, it’s not always easy to determine what truly motivates employees to do their best work, to come in on time, or to remain loyal to the company.

A recent Gallup poll reported the following about employee engagement:

“The bulk of employees worldwide — 63% — are “not engaged,” meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are “actively disengaged,” indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers. In rough numbers, this translates into 900 million not engaged and 340 million actively disengaged workers around the globe.” (Source)

To help you decide how to keep your employees engaged and doing their best work, we recently asked a handful of business professionals to provide us with insight on the subject. We asked them to tell us how to best keep employees motivated. Here’s what they had to say:

Michael Tempel, President at Nexus Real Estate Services

“We make sure we really get to know our employees and celebrate this at their annual reviews (even hourly employees get them) and or birthdays. Our goal is to make sure everyone knows we care and take extra time to get to know who they are. This has translated to unbelievable loyalty, work ethic and positive growth from the office to our residents in our many different communities. When we make it our policy to care about them, something really cool happens, they start to truly care about our customers…that’s when the magic happens in our industry, we very rarely have any negative reviews because “caring” is part of our overall business culture. It is contagious and profitable, overall it just feels good!”

Barry Maher, Author, Consultant, Speaker (www.barrymaher.com)

“We all know our people can achieve more than they believe they can achieve. So show them that. Show them the vision you have for what they can become and what they can accomplish: a vision you may have helped to instill but one you’ve worked out with them so it encompasses their hopes and dreams. If they think you have a high opinion of them, it’s amazing what they will do to maintain that opinion. And the more they respect you they harder they will work to hang on to your regard.”

Sandra Powers, Co-Founder & Head of Operations at LawyerReviews.com

“It is essential to have frequent communications that share with all members of the organization those conversations that are taking place at the upper echelons of the organization in order to keep everybody motivated. Communication from the top of the organization to the very bottom of the organization makes all those involved feel like the are part of something bigger than the individual self. An owner or top management should communicate with their employees on a regular basis about the critical happenings within an organization because it is important to keep all team members involved and invested in the company. Open and honest communication allows everybody to understand the bigger picture and larger corporate mission.”

Laurie-Ann Murabito, Healthcare Leadership & Culture Expert (www.laurieannmurabito.com)

“Get to know your employees-personally. Leaders need to take the the time to get to know their employees, both who they are in and out side of their job. When you take the time to learn about who they are, their family, vacations, career aspirations, struggles, strengths and goals to name only a few, you will develop and strengthen a bond that will inspire and motivate your employees. When they know and ‘feel’ that you care and respect them, they will always want to support you and the company’s goals without being asked.”

Nina Parr, Co-Founder and CMO for The Love Your Job Project

“Create a company bucket list. Set goals and when those goals are met, take your team out to do something fun from your bucket list and celebrate successes.”

Brandon Seymour, SEO Manager at BodyLogicMD

“We use a multi-tiered, monthly goal system for our sales team. There are three separate levels, based on the total revenue for each month. Level One gets everyone free lunch once a week. Then at Level Two we add in something extra like an Amex gift card. For Level Three we try to be a little bit more creative. Sometimes we have team outings and other times we play “Let’s Make a Deal” and offer some really great prizes, like trips to Disney World, iPads and tickets to professional sporting events. These incentives help boost morale to keep employees motivated and they also create a strong sense of community. We also throw in some extras for the month, like in-house nails techs and masseuses.”

Carl Dierschow,  Small Business Coach (www.smallfish.us)

“In my experience, there’s two answers to keeping employees motivated. The first is to realize that each person is an individual with their own dreams and aspirations. You’ll want to develop a deep and trusting relationship with each employee – to understand what compels them to do good work, and to give them the reasons to want to do that for YOU. The second answer might sound like a contradiction of the first: Help the team to create its own purpose and identity. Sports teams are the most visible examples, of course, and help to bring out the best of every person on the field and off. Every corporate group and every executive team can develop its own character and purpose, with your guidance and leadership. With this shared perspective, team members will help keep each other motivated and on track.”

Andrew Thompson, CEO at PEAK Performance, Inc.

“We teach our CEOs / Executives / Managers to keep your employees NUMBER 1. You walk into any business today and ask the Store Owner / Manager if the customer is #1… 99 times out of 100 you will here a “YES!” Of course, we have all been trained that way for decades. The reality is that the businesses that do well AND have very loyal relationships with their employees all have the policy that the Customer comes SECOND. The employee is FIRST. It’s this managerial mindset that creates the foundation of a healthy and long-lasting relationship with their Team.”

Jessica Greenwalt, Founder at Pixelkeet

“We give employees and contractors ownership over the projects they are working on and give credit where credit is due. Contractors are added to our website while they are working on projects with us, so they know that they are part of the team. Team members’ names are associated with the final projects produced, so they know that when they work on a project, they are not only representing the company, but themselves as well. As a result, our team members are very engaged and heavily invested in the success of their projects. They are extremely motivated to work well with clients, and with each other, to produce quality work.”

Nellie Akalp, CEO at CorpNet

“To keep my employees constantly motivated, I set goals and rewards for those goals. The goals are set for sales team, marketing team and social numbers and anything and everything else I can think of. I find that everyone performs to their best ability when put up against those goals, and every month I push them a bit further. Of course when goals are met, rewards are given such as bonuses, office day trips and lunches.”

Aaron Rehberg, Founder at Rehberg Careers Inc

“Managers too often make the mistake of eliminating every creative aspect of their employees’ work. At the top of this list is failing to allow employees to be decision makers. Sure, some aspects of the job must follow a best practice but there are elements of almost every hourly job that can be done in a unique fashion that will yield similar end results while motivating your employees at the same time. The trick is identifying opportunities where your employees can and should be decision makers. The next time you have a project or assignment for your employee, limit yourself to communicating only the end goal to your employee. When they ask you how they should go about doing the assignment, encourage them to do it their own way and to share the results with you when the project is complete. If you don’t regularly employ this tactic with your team, you’ll be in for some amazing results. Employees feel a sense of purpose and truly understand the value they add to the team when they are allowed to make their own decisions. Most hourly employees will choose to stay at a current employer where they feel empowered even when offered more money to take a similar position at a competitor.”

Deborah Sweeney, CEO at MyCorporation

“Gimmicks like snacks in the break-room or team building exercises can motivate people, but I’ve noticed that one of the best ways to keep people motivated is simply to talk to them. When you work in an hourly job, you can feel like a cog in the machine. Put in your time, punch out, go home. That attitude isn’t great for productivity or motivation. I want my staff to feel like they are all integral parts of the team, because honestly they are. So I talk to them, I ask them how the department is doing, and I listen to their ideas. I’ve always been told to lead from within, rather than from out front, and that bit of advice has always helped me to keep my staff motivated.”

Nima Noori, CEO at Toronto Vaporizer

“It’s difficult to keep employees constantly motivated, but the first step I found to making the entire endeavor less of a struggle is to create a fun company culture. Once that’s established, I believe actively acknowledging and thanking your employees for their hard work, especially when they go above and beyond is extremely important. Everyone likes being praised for their hard work, so we’ve not only made it our mission to ensure everyone in the company is aware of the hard work of their team members, but we also do it in a funny, new way. We have an honoring ceremony, where the highest achiever for the month is honored for their achievements in front of the team on a company night outing. They are then given a “Master” custom-made crown with their names on it and then for 1-week straight, everyone in the office refers to them as Master. With this Master status, the achiever also then takes on leadership duties, like leading the team chant. So, the status is not only an honour, but one that also comes with privileges! When the whole team recognizes their peer’s achievements and addresses them as a ‘Master’ of their domain for an entire week, it creates a sense of purpose for the achiever and also keeps the rest of the team eager to capture the Master status the following month. This is our #1 top for keeping employees motivated – a Master title well worth fighting for!”

Chad Halvorson, Founder/CEO at When I Work (that’s us)

“For my own team, I’ve always made motivation about the individual. I like to encourage each person to really “own” their area of expertise, their projects, their space—we try to make them feel and act like they really are the “CEO” of whatever project they are working on or whatever goal they are trying to reach. I find that when individual ownership like that takes place, people are motivated to do their best work. Rewards and incentives are of course useful, but in order to keep your team motivated, you must also make the evaluation of success (and perhaps even the incentive) specific to each individual. You need to be passionate about helping each and every person on your team do their best work.”

Wade Benz, Founder and President at USimprints.com

“Keeping employees motivated is a crucial part to any successful business. The best way I keep my team motivated is by creating a clear mission of building an organization for the greater good of everyone in the company. I often say to my team they are here not to serve me, but to serve their families and build a career to improve their lives. By turning their position into more than just a job, but a role with a much bigger purpose, our team stays motivated day after day.”

Audrey Darrow, President/Founder of Earth Source Organics

“Communicate appreciation. Anyone and everyone enjoys recognition for doing a great job. Those that go above and beyond can have their work ethic preserved by verbal or written communication that they are doing great and their work is appreciated. For those that are not working up to par keep a great positive environment and communicate what needs to be done and how they can be an asset to the team. Every time a sub par employee does something great communicate that to them and they will more than likely continue with a increase in work ethic.”


There are many possible ways you can motivate the employees at your company. Some people are motivated simply by occasional appreciation. Others want perks like bonuses, free lunches, or company outings. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for your employees. The best way to figure it? Ask your employees! They know what motivates them. Listen.

How do you motivate your employees? What has or has not worked well for you? Leave a comment for us below!

Article Image
/Human Resources

Employee Burnout: Causes, Signs, And Strategies

Article Image
/Business Growth

9 Strategies For Decreasing Labor Costs

Article Image
/Scheduling Strategy

Rotating Shifts: A Manager’s Guide to Rotating Schedules

Article Image
/Scheduling Strategy

How to Save Time And Money With Automatic Scheduling For Employees

Article Image
/Small Business Blog

40 Employee Appreciation Ideas Your Staff Will Love

Article Image
/Human Resources

How to Write Up an Employee in 8 Easy Steps