Employee motivation: why it’s important & 12 ways to improve it

Motivated employees are driven to get the job done well. They contribute to organizational success. And they set the kind of example you want other employees to follow.

What we'll cover

Unmotivated workers do the bare minimum. They can drag other team members down with them. They’re also more likely to be looking for a job elsewhere.

Given that only 23% of global employees feel engaged at work, improving employee motivation is a critical business priority. You need to employ strategies known to boost motivation and inspire better employee productivity. 

In this article, we list a range of employee motivation ideas that will help you get the most from your workforce. We’ll be looking at the following:

  • Why is employee motivation important?
  • Key factors in employee motivation
  • 12 ways to motivate employees
  • Using an employee super-app to create a motivated workforce

Why is employee motivation important?

Motivated employees tend to enjoy work. They have a sense of purpose and accomplishment. They also approach work with energy and drive.

But employee motivation isn’t just good for employees. It benefits your business, too. Here’s how:

Increased employee productivity. Motivated employees work harder. They’re more efficient and focused. They’re also more likely to take the initiative, going beyond their basic responsibilities.

Better quality of work. A motivated workforce doesn’t just produce more work. It produces better work. Workers are committed to quality. This results in fewer errors, fewer missed deadlines, and fewer workplace safety incidents.

Higher retention rate. Engaged employees are loyal to your organization. So they’re less likely to look for another job. With a motivated workforce, your organization experiences higher levels of employee retention and less absenteeism.

More profit. Gallup research on employee engagement shows that employee morale impacts a range of business outcomes. It leads to a 23% increase in profitability and a 10% increase in customer loyalty.

Key factors in employee motivation 

There are two types of motivation — extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is all about the carrot and the stick. You create extrinsic motivation with external rewards and penalties. Rewards might include an employee’s salary, bonuses, rewards, and praise. Penalties might include a poor performance review or a manager reprimand.

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. Employees are motivated to do their best work because they find it personally rewarding. This type of motivation relies on drivers like interest, purpose, pride, and curiosity.

When you have high levels of employee engagement within a workplace, you tend to get high levels of intrinsic motivation. Employees feel invested in their work and the company. So they’re driven to bring their A-game without needing constant carrot-and-stick encouragement.

As an employer, it may seem that you have more control over extrinsic motivation. You can raise someone’s salary, provide bonuses, and praise a job well done. All of these things help to motivate an employee.

But the fact is, you can influence levels of intrinsic motivation, too. Here are some of the things that prompt intrinsic motivation in your employees. 

Feeling valued

When employees feel you care about them, their wellbeing, and their lives beyond work, they’re more likely to bring their all. That means giving employee recognition where it’s due, treating people fairly, and valuing their input, too.

Making progress

Employees like to know where they’re heading — and where they’re at right now. That requires regular, positive feedback and constructive criticism. Training, development, and clear career pathing are also important.

A sense of purpose

Every job has its boring bits — the tasks that an employee is never going to be excited about doing. But when employees understand how their work contributes to organizational success and wider society, finding that motivation gets easier.

A positive company culture

Motivation is contagious. And it spreads more easily in organizations where there’s good communication and a sense of belonging. When they’re part of an open and supportive company culture, employees are more invested in company success.

The ideas we’ve included below incorporate all of the above. They also provide ways to inspire both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in your workforce. 

12 ways to motivate employees

To motivate your employees, you need to:

  • Highlight values and purpose
  • Communicate transparently
  • Give employees the resources they need
  • Use the right technology
  • Provide opportunities for professional development
  • Develop employee career paths
  • Support employee wellbeing
  • Encourage teamwork and collaboration
  • Support employees to build workplace friendships
  • Recognize employee contributions
  • Ask employees for their thoughts and feedback
  • Treat everyone equitably

Highlight values and purpose

According to Gartner research, shared purpose is one of five primary things motivating employees to stay in their jobs right now. It helps them feel invested in their work and your organization.

Shared purpose helps employees feel part of something bigger than themselves. So work becomes about more than just a paycheck.

You can support purpose in the workplace, by crafting clear company values and communicating these values regularly.

Start during onboarding. Introduce new hires to your company’s vision, mission, and values from day one. Explain how their role contributes to your goals and social impact.

Be consistent. Regularly reinforce your company's vision and mission in all employee communications. Make purpose a recurring theme in meetings, updates, and internal messaging.

Build a values-based culture: Create an environment where company values are lived and breathed daily. Take concrete action based on your values. That way, employees are more likely to believe in them.

Communicate transparently

Employee communication is another important element of employee motivation. Open and transparent communication builds trust. And employees who get enough information to do their jobs well are 2.8 times more likely to be engaged.

But while 87% of business leaders think their internal communications are “highly effective”, only 63% of employees agree. So what does effective communication look like?

Effective communication is a two-way conversation, where both leaders and employees get to share ideas, concerns, and feedback. It’s keeping employees up-to-date with key company developments, and it’s ensuring that you have clear channels of communication to reach all employees.  

For remote and frontline teams, this means choosing streamlined, digital communication channels. You need internal communication tools you can use to relay messages quickly and reliably, bypassing paper memos and an employee’s already overflowing email inbox. 

Give employees the resources they need

Imagine you’re setting out on a long hike. You’re excited and determined to reach the endpoint.

But you’re given a pair of ill-fitting hiking boots to wear. And a mile or so into the walk, you realize that the map you’re following isn’t 100% accurate. You decide to call the hike organizer for directions. But the number’s engaged and you fail to get through.

It’s likely that at this point in the hike, your motivation has started to dip. You feel thwarted and discouraged. You’re tempted to turn back. What felt like a promising journey now feels like an uphill struggle. 

That’s why it’s important to give employees the resources they need. They need the right tech, training, support, and information to do their jobs well. Without it, morale takes a hit.

Use the right technology

Technology is increasingly important to the employee experience. Done right, it makes life easier for employees. Done wrong, it causes friction and frustration, which harms employee motivation.

A concerning 83% of HR leaders say they don’t have the right technology at work. This is contributing to stress, burnout, and low morale. Similarly, only 10% of frontline workers say they have access to the tools, tech, and opportunities they need to connect and advance in the workplace.

All workers — those in the office, those working remotely, and those on your company’s front lines — need access to high-quality, user-friendly tech that makes their jobs easier, not harder.

That might mean using a mobile-first employee app to give frontline employees the resources and co-worker connection they crave. Or it might mean implementing a social intranet that supports workplace communication and collaboration.

You can also use tech tools that have a direct impact on employee motivation. Employee engagement tools help organizations to improve and track staff morale.   

Provide opportunities for professional development

According to O.C. Tanner research, organizations have five times greater odds of achieving employee fulfillment when they support professional development. A comprehensive training program improves your workplace retention rate, too.  

O.C. Tanner also found that organizations are more likely to make a success of skills-building initiatives when they:

  • Empower employees to make their own training decisions. Supporting employees to choose training paths that align with their career goals and interests improves engagement with the learning process.

  • Give employees time during work to complete training. Allocate dedicated time for training so employees don’t experience stress, trying to juggle learning with daily tasks and out-of-work responsibilities.

  • Provide or reimburse hobby classes as well as work-related learning. Reimbursement for hobby classes improves the odds that a skill-building program will improve retention by 119%.

Develop employee career paths

Training is important. But unless employees can put those newfound skills to use within your organization, they’re going to become frustrated. That’s why every employee should have a clear progression path within your organization.

Sit down with employees to find out where their ambitions lie. And — as we mentioned above — personalize a training program to support their career goals.

Also, try to be realistic and open with workers about when a promotion is likely. This will depend on their current skill set and your organizational needs. If an upward move isn’t available for the foreseeable, there are other things you can do to keep staff motivated.

A lateral move helps employees to develop skills in another area of the business. You give them a new challenge and support them to become well-rounded members of your organization.

Similarly, stretch assignments are a great way to grow employee skills. They encourage workers to move beyond their comfort zone, take on new responsibilities, and prepare for higher-level roles.

Support employee wellbeing

In its State of the Global Workplace Report for 2024, Gallup talks a lot about employee wellbeing. It reveals that to improve employee lives and organizational performance, employers need to do the following:

  • Make support for employee wellbeing visible and consistent
  • Assign employee wellbeing counselors or coaches
  • Emphasize wellbeing at work and in life
  • Go beyond physical health to provide mental health and holistic support

Employee wellbeing goes beyond the odd mindfulness session. It requires a company-wide approach and a real understanding of what your employees might be struggling with.

Starbucks is a great example. They’ve been helping employees with the astronomical cost of housing. They offer a Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme that they’ve named Home Sweet Loan. Employees can access an interest-free loan to pay the rental deposit when moving into a new home.

Starbucks is making it easier for employees to find and secure housing. This is good for their baristas. But it’s good for business, too. Because when employees aren’t worried about the roof over their heads, they’re more motivated and focused at work.

Encourage teamwork and collaboration

A 2022 Corel report reveals that 41% of employees have left their jobs or would consider leaving their jobs due to poor collaboration at work.

Collaboration is a great way to engage employees. It helps to create a sense of belonging. It makes work more efficient because teams share knowledge and resources freely. Plus, employees motivate one another when they work together.

You can support collaboration by supporting employees to build positive workplace relationships (more on this in a moment). Praising teams, rather than individuals, for their successes is also a good idea.

For teams who work disparately, the right intranet or app is an important part of the puzzle. You need tools that support employees to collaborate in real-time and access shared resources.

Read more: 8 benefits of collaboration in the workplace

Support employees to build workplace friendships

Water cooler chat may feel like an unnecessary part of the work day. But giving employees the time, space, and, in some cases, the tech they need to develop workplace friendships is incredibly important to engagement.

Employees who feel that they belong within an organization are 5.3 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. And those with a best friend at work are more productive, happier to innovate, and happier to share ideas.

So schedule social events. Allow time at the beginning or end of meetings for informal conversation. If your team works remotely or you have frontline workers, be intentional about creating these opportunities for connection.

That might mean letting employees create shared interest groups on the company intranet. How about a book club? Or a running club? Maintaining a news feed where employees can post, comment, and like, helps remote and frontline workers to build connections, too.

Recognize employee contributions

Employee recognition and rewards are another important pillar of employee morale. When employees feel their hard work is appreciated, they’re more likely to maintain their motivation.  

They’re also more likely to stay working for your company. According to recent Gallup and Workhuman research, a 10,000-person organization can save up to $16.1 million a year in reduced employee turnover costs by making recognition an important part of company culture.

Timely and relevant recognition from managers is essential. But peer-to-peer recognition can be just as valuable and it has a surprising benefit. 75% of employees say that giving recognition makes them want to stay at their current organization longer.

Blink’s employee recognition feature makes it easy to give every employee the appreciation they deserve. You can create personalized recognition posts in seconds. Then, share praise with the individual or publish it on the company news feed for everyone to see and celebrate.

If you want to offer employee rewards as part of your recognition program, be sure to find out what employees are excited by. You may think that cash bonuses and company merchandise are great incentives. But it may be that employees would prefer something else, like extra paid time off.

Read more: 6 amazing employee appreciation ideas that your staff will love

Ask employees for their thoughts and feedback

Employees are more motivated when they feel listened to. When an employer seeks their input and insight, it makes them feel valued, which contributes to employee morale.

Ask for employee input on key decisions. Taking everyone’s opinions into account when implementing change helps to ensure buy-in.

Also, get employee feedback on a range of issues, on a regular basis. Use surveys to ask workers about the employee experience, workplace satisfaction, or workplace rewards. Their answers will help you to develop a more motivating environment for employees going forward.

Just remember that feedback is a multi-stage process that requires effective communication. You need to:

  • Ask for employee feedback
  • Thank employees for their feedback
  • Tell employees what their feedback has revealed and what you plan to do about it
  • Keep employees in the loop, informing them how your plans are going

Closing the feedback loop like this keeps employees invested in the feedback process. It shows them that you’re really listening to what they have to say.

Treat everyone fairly and equitably

Fairness is crucial to employee motivation. When employees feel that they aren’t being treated fairly or equitably, motivation takes a dive.

So all employees must be given equal access to training and career progression opportunities. Everyone should have the option to give feedback and build workplace friendships. They should get the resources and recognition they need to feel valued.  

Pay also comes into the equation. You can prevent resentment and employee churn by offering employees a fair salary. Conduct a pay equity audit. Also, regularly check to see how your wages match up with market trends and the cost of living.

But bear in mind that engaged employees look for a 31% pay increase to consider taking a job with another organization. So you don’t necessarily have to match competitors like-for-like if you provide non-monetary benefits and a company culture employees enjoy being part of.

Using an employee super-app to create a motivated workforce

Having the right tech on your team makes it easier to boost employee motivation. 

An employee super-app is particularly useful for remote and frontline employees who may feel disconnected from motivators like co-worker support, feedback opportunities, and company resources.

An employee app helps you to create an equitable experience for all members of staff, no matter where they work. It also allows you to put motivation-boosting features into the palm of every employee’s hand. 

Take a look at these employee app features, sure to improve employee motivation. 

Social features

Social features like a company news feed help to include everyone in your company culture and support workplace connections.

A resource library

A resource library gives all employees, no matter where they work, access to essential workplace resources. You can populate your library with how-to guides, company policies, and FAQs.

Recognition features

Built-in recognition features make it easy to show appreciation for employees and encourage peer-to-peer recognition, too.

Survey tools

The best employee super apps make it easy for managers to request feedback — and for employees to provide it.

A digital hub

By integrating with all of the digitals you use, you can give employees access to professional development, wellbeing, and collaboration tools, all in the same place.

Effective communication

With a news feed, group messaging, and 1:1 chats, it’s easy for every member of your organization to take part in the company conversation and for leaders to amplify company culture.  


Analytics help you to track motivation and engagement. This allows you to make data-backed improvements to your engagement initiatives.  

In summary

Find ways to motivate your employees and you create a happier, more engaged, more productive workforce. You improve employee loyalty and talent retention. You also achieve better business results. 

There are lots of different things you can do to motivate your workforce. But all actions center around four key pillars:

  • Help employees find meaning in their work
  • Show employees that you value them as people as well as workers
  • Support employees to make progress in their careers
  • Build a positive company culture

It’s easier to do all these things when you have the right tech tools. An employee super-app brings your organization together and helps you establish a positive company culture.

It also gives employees all the communication, resources, and digital tools they need to excel in their roles. They experience more flow and less friction, which makes for improved employee motivation.

Find out what an employee app could do for your organization. Schedule a free Blink demo today.

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