Highly motivated employees are more profitable for businesses. They’re happier and more satisfied in their jobs, and they are able to come up with more innovative ideas, connect with customers and be more productive. Employees who are motivated save their companies thousands of dollars through their increased efficiency and the higher retention rates. Organizations can greatly benefit from making motivation a priority.

You can’t truly motivate your employees unless you understand their core values and drivers. What do they want to get out of their career, out of life? Here, 12 members of Forbes Business Council weigh in on the best ways to develop a better understanding of what motivates employees. Everyone is interested in growth opportunities, but is there more to motivation than that?

1. Provide Inspiration

Leaders need to understand they can’t create motivation but they can instead provide inspiration. They need to help employees find their “why” and define a purpose they feel motivated about. There is no one-size-fits-all model for employee motivation. Finding the why for employees requires conversation and investment of time by managers, but it is the key that will unlock the best from employees. – Ilias Simpson, Radial

2. Understand Internal And External Desires

Employee motivation is directly linked to their internal and external desires, beliefs and values. Understand what drives them through surveys, polls, quizzes and workshops. Get clear with what gets the team excited, set realistic goals, reward performance, promote positive feedback, offer employee initiatives, provide autonomy and encourage growth. – Judy Sahay, Crowd Media Group


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3. Demonstrate Vulnerability

Leaders need to not only practice empathy toward their employees but should demonstrate vulnerability to allow their team members to build empathy toward them as well. This allows a leader to build a genuine and trusted relationship with their employees, which in turn would encourage the employees to openly share what motivates them in a psychologically safe manner. – Mohammad Anwar, Softway

4. Invest In Emotional Intelligence

Managers who want to motivate their employees better must first invest in the knowledge and application of emotional intelligence. This helps managers understand themselves first, including their own interests and motivations, which then enables them to understand others. The knowledge of emotional intelligence will help managers understand exactly what is important to each employee so they can get the best out of them. – Kemi Ogunkoya, Rellies Works

5. Inquire About Their Personal Motivators

Do not assume. Simply ask employees, “What motivates you?” There is a great deal of variability among employee motivations. Motivations vary by generational gaps, gender identity, cultural difference, career path and many other influencers. You can survey employees, have employee focus groups and hold employee one-to-one dialogue. Don’t assume what motivates one person applies to the other. – David Qu, Joint Commission International

6. Establish A Safe Environment

I think it’s really important to create a culture that has a free and safe environment. Giving praise and recognition where it’s due is also very important. – Kym Gold, Style Union Home

7. Assist With The Daily Workload To Build Trust

Establish a grassroots management, meaning you should learn every aspect of the division or line of business you manage. From time to time, jump in and assist your team with their daily workloads, as this will open up a dialogue. As a manager, it is critical to be “reachable” so your staff and team open up to you. Once the trust is established, your team will open up about their aspirations and goals. – Oscar Frazier, nDemand Consulting Services

8. Try Exploration Days

Give your employees an option to propose an idea and then have them prove it with the first results within 24 hours. It is even better if the company arranges it in a Friday to Saturday format. Nothing speaks better about your employees’ motivation than their own actions in their leisure time. – Sergey Derzap, Amasty

9. Understand Demotivating Factors

Managers need to spend more time interacting with employees. Understanding the things which demotivate them in the workplace, such as salaries, problematic equipment used in controlling pollution, unhygienic toilets and more, and solving it would allow the company to earn their trust and support. In return, employees would be motivated to put their 100% effort because management was more transparent with them. – Kiara Cancer, Extraordinary Headhunters LLC

10. Track And Measure Incentive Programs

To keep your employees motivated and involved with the company’s goals, celebrate the successes of employees and recognize them throughout the organization. It’s OK to ask employees outright what motivates them and get personal with it as no two people are driven the same way. Tracking and measuring the results of incentives incorporates an added benefit for your employees and will keep them engaged. – Reid Rubenstein, RefiJet

11. Set Up An Employee Suggestion Box

This creates a safe space for employees to anonymously share their feedback and to gauge employee satisfaction. This is a great way to encourage feedback, especially by those who are not comfortable speaking up at work. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

12. Rely On Your Emotional Intelligence

Providing extra bonuses, inclusion into high visibility and innovative projects, food, paid vacations, tickets to sporting events or concerts, recognition to employees during a major corporate event and access to executive management are some of the most successful strategies I have used. Managers with high EQ (emotional intelligence) can pick the right approach for motivation. – Biju Chandrasekharan, ByteWave Digital Inc.



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