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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

More than 80 Strategies to Motivate Your Employees

Written By: Carol Roth | 39 Comments

Employees can make or break your business. So, how do you keep them motivated to do their very best? I reached out to my network of valued experts and entrepreneurs and I am excited to present more than 80 ways to motivate your employees (in no particular order), ranging from money to empowerment to cupcakes!

You may notice some similar themes, but I kept the insights separate as something in the way it is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Cash is King!

Nothing motivates more than the all mighty dollar.
Thanks to: Jason Frank.

2. Score Your Goals with Theirs

You need to always be matching their goals with the company goals. Once they diverge, the employee will either leave or not work as hard toward the company goals. Always ensure through excellent communication that you are meeting the employee goals WITH the company goals!
Thanks to: Barry Moltz of Shafran Moltz Group.

3. Make 'Em Work Smarter

Employees are motivated more when they are achieving goals. What better way to meet more goals than by increasing your productivity by working smarter? That's how you get people going. Show them they are making a real difference.
Thanks to: Danny Wong of Custom Men's Dress Shirts | BL.

4. Positive Reinforcement

The way I motivate employees is by telling them they are doing a great job and by giving individual employees a surprise bonus when an employee goes above and beyond to do a great job. I also individually and as a group tell them that I feel very lucky to be working with them and they are an amazing group of people and a great team. One of the easiest ways to motivate employees is also the least expensive. Simply praise them for doing great work.
Thanks to: Peter Geisheker of The Geisheker Group Marketing Firm.

5. Lend them our glasses!

In our business, team spirit is critical, because every member of our team plays a starring role in our growth. Allowing our team members to see our vision of our company, from the owners' perspectives, has been invaluable in motivating everyone. As our staff understands our hopes, dreams, and struggles, they embrace their own importance in achieving our overall vision. Sharing our vision with those who work hardest to help us achieve it is key!
Thanks to: Elura Nanos of Lawyer Up (the new "Morange").

6. Set the Example

To motivate the folks who work for me, I make certain to set the best example. I set high standards for my own work and keep my motivation level very high. Also, I try to emphasize whenever possible that we are all part of the Mommy MD Guides team. Who doesn't like to be part of something great?
Thanks to: Jennifer Reich of The Mommy MD Guides.

7. Frequent Communications

The key to motivating employees (for the long term) is to regularly communicate with them, and let them know how the business is progressing. The way to do this is through a daily huddle - a 10 minute, standing meeting where there is a rapid share of the company's successes and challenges from the prior day. Quick recognition for significant employee accomplishments or celebrations (like birthdays and anniversaries) - we are all human after all, and like to be appreciated.
Thanks to: Mike Michalowicz of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

8. Appreciation Beats out Money

In the current work environment most employees get equal pay even if the work is not equal in quality.

More money may make me happy for a moment but appreciation sticks to me for a long time.

Years ago my boss gave me back a report with a sticky note on it that simply said "Good job, Mary". I still have it and when I get discouraged and stressed on the job, I take it out to remind me that I am appreciated.

Now when someone does a good job for me I not only tell them, I put it in writing.
Thanks to: Mary Francis of The Sisterhood of Widows.

9. Cut Them in on the Deal

People are motivated by a lot of factors, but self-interest is among the most powerful. Thus, cut them in on the deal-- share the rewards of the company's success. This can take many forms-- profit sharing, equity, and clear and transparent milestone-driven bonuses. Making employees feel like an owner vs. a cog in the wheel is what drives people to go the extra mile.
Thanks to: Nathan Beckord of VentureArchetypes LLC.

10. Treat People with Respect

I don't think that you can motivate people. You can however, create the conditions in which self motivated people will thrive and deliver excellent work.

This isn't difficult. Treat people with respect and dignity. Tell them what you need them to do, then get out of their way and let them do it. They will justify your faith in them with their ingenuity, hard work and results.
Thanks to: Bud Bilanich of The Common Sense Guy.

11. Hire Only Pre-motivated People

There are the people you motivate. And then there are the people who are already motivated- congenital drivers. Hire the latter. How do you know who they are? It's tricky, but not impossible. You begin with a brutally candid spec in the job description. You follow this up in the interview process with open ended questions that reveal the candidate's motivation index. Find out what drives them. Get their take on motivation. They will self-qualify.
Thanks to: Stan DeVaughn of Turner DeVaughn Network.

12. Accountability

If employees are empowered to make decisions on their own (within reason and with respect to their skill set/position within the company), this tends to be a pretty strong self-motivational tool.

I'm not a "rah-rah" guy and I tend to not take that management style very seriously. This isn't a high school football game people!

If people know that they are accountable for their own decisions, this tends to be a great motivator. They are either a hero or a goat and everyone will know it.
Thanks to: Erik Anderson of Infinity Print Group, Inc..

13. Treat Them as Entrepreneurs!

No carrots, no sticks!! Only passion!! Hire motivated people to begin with, hire those who are passionate about what you're doing and what your business stands by, and you'll need to worry the least about motivating them...
Thanks to: Devesh Dwivedi of Entrepreneur In Making.

14. You're the Boss!

Whenever possible I allow and even urge my staff to be the boss. ONCE they get a fairly good idea of how we do things and are on the same page with policies and customer service (my biggest priority,) I urge the staff to make decisions on their own. If their decision is good, I commend them and often reward an exceptionally good decision with a free tank of gas, a gift card for a meal, etc. If the action is a little questionable I discuss the possible alternatives that may have been taken.
Thanks to: Teri Blaschke of Hidden Valley RV Park.

15. Motivation Can be Simple

I keep things simple; I treat employees as I would want to be treated myself.
I keep this in mind when something goes awry or when the opposite occurs.
Thanks to: howard kopelson of EZ Dupe.

16. Learn About Addiction

If you have under achieving workers you must learn about addiction and the causes of this behavior. You will be amazed. You can start to understand how laziness or a disorganized approach to work could be tied to underlying causes and conditions. You are then more able to say just the right thing to motivate employees to reach new levels of cooperation.
Thanks to: Roz Wolf of Candace Silvers Studios.

17. Making a Difference Motivates

Motivate employees by tapping into their pride. Get them involved in planning on what needs to be done. Employees support what they help build. Just doing tasks will mean very little to them. But if they are connected to the big picture and understand its importance, their work now has purpose. Including them in appropriate decision-making provides a high level of ownership. Seeing how their work impacts the overall success of the company fuels their internal motivation to do their best.
Thanks to: Michael Denisoff of Denisoff Consulting Group.

18. Treat Employees Like Customers

To motivate your employees, realize that they are another form of customer for your business. Just as you want your customers to buy your products, you want your employees to buy into your instructions and performance expectations. Just like your customers, your employees are motivated by need satisfaction and will respond to your demonstration of respect, appreciation, compliments and interest in them. It's not just money that motivates. We all work harder when we are appreciated.
Thanks to: Dr. Dennis Rosen of WinFluence® Solutions.

19. Passion is the Great Motivator

If you want your employees to stay inspired and motivated, then they can't be just your employees, but rather your partners. No one wants to be just a worker. Everyone wants to feel a sense of creative ownership. Structure your company so that everyone feels they have a means to express their point of view. And make decisions in concert with your staff. If people are valued and respected they will feel a sense of pride and ownership of the company. Motivation will never be an issue!
Thanks to: craig wolfe of CelebriDucks.

20. Take a Break, Catch a Movie!

I have found that people love the opportunity to "goof off" on company time, especially when the company is footing the bill. When my staff had accomplished a large goal or had persistently stayed with a project that was filled with a lot of finite details, they could choose from a variety of payoffs. Among other things, I offered them a late start day, treated them to a long lunch, or gave them the $$ for movie tickets to go with an afternoon off. They always came back feeling appreciated.
Thanks to: Teresa Cleveland of Empowered Awareness.

21. What's Their Personality?

As an Expert Personality Profiler with over 20 years of experience training company owners, I can tell you that different personalities are motivated by different things. What works for one will not work for others. You must understand the personality of your employee to know what is important to them! Some want public "attaboys", while others just want to know you appreciate their work or that they have job security. There are online assessments available on my website. Please check them out!
Thanks to: Angel Tucker of Personality Profiles LLC.

22. Get it, Got it, GOOD!

To motivate others, you have to be motivated FIRST. I download Zig Ziglar and Jim Rohn podcasts and listen to them in my "automobile university." Then I show up and BAM, I am already there. I take the time to listen to what my team needs, and to deliver 110% of that.
Thanks to: Curt Tueffert of Brick Wall Motivation.

23. Move the Office Outdoors

A great way to keep employees motivated and out of a slump is to have a day or one day a week where you go outdoors, to a coffee shop, park or something just to get away from the office but still get work done. Now you can go just about anywhere and hold a meeting or do work. Everyone needs a break from the office and sometimes the best ideas flow when you take a break to breathe and enjoy the scenery. Employees not only benefit from this but so do you as the owner...
Thanks to: Ashley Bodi of BusinessBeware.Biz.

24. Lead by Example

Seriously., a printing company I started 17 years ago continues today with the exact same high-level principles and enthusiasm that I launched it with. I performed outrageous customer service to the highest degree - motivating my team (and ultimately my successors) by having a fantastic work ethic and unbridled passion. My actions - day-in, day-out for many years - became the template for the 'way' we did business.
Thanks to: David Sears of

25. Compliment Your Team

A good leader knows how to interact with people on a “professional” as well as a “personal” level. Every employee welcomes recognition and praise for their hard work; it also boosts their morale and encourages them to continue to do a good job. To be an effective leader, you should acknowledge the accomplishments of your team both individually and as a group. Statistics show that workers who feel appreciated are more productive and less likely to leave their jobs.
Thanks to: Dr. Madeline Lewis of Deline Institute.

26. Leading From the back

Leading from the back is the way to motivate. Of Course, you can give rewards but that doesn't last and is exhausting if you are always trying to be the "Rah Rah" section. When you Lead from the back, your employee stays motivated because the passion is coming from their own source. They feel ownership on the task as if the idea comes from them as well as you. It's facilitating the outcome. Recognition is also a plus.
Thanks to: Charisse Rudolph of Daydreams International, Inc..

27. Do You Know Who I Am?

The best motivation for anyone - including employees - is to hear or see our name as often and in as many places as possible. Our name is the most potent sound we can hear and see. If you want to motivate someone put their name up in lights and/or sing it from the rooftops!
Thanks to: Vicki Donlan of VickiDonlan.

28. Treat Them like Partners

The biggest motivator for most employees is to be treated like partners in your business. Have regular meetings, listen to their opinion and more importantly share information with them.

Nothing is more powerful than sharing information with employees and involving them in the decision making process.

If you can, set aside a certain amount of earnings in the profit sharing pool. It may only be 10% of your earnings shared among all your employees. Even this can mean a lot to them.
Thanks to: Vinil Ramdev of StartUp Growth Expert.

29. Allow Them to Do Their Job

Sometimes the best method for motivating employees is the most simple. Allow them to do what they were hired to do. Often as leaders we take too much ownership away from our staff out of fear they cannot do the job as well as we can. Not only does this de-motivate staff, it creates more work for you! Empower them. Ask for their input. Give them expectations about the results that need to be met and get out of their way. Follow up for questions and to keep accountability in check.
Thanks to: Dan Paulson of InVision Business Development.

30. There is Hope!

The best way to motivate employees is to give them reasons to believe their company is vital to the interests of its customers, partners, shareholders, and employees. Everyone wants to be involved in something that matters -- including where they work. Demonstrate how your company matters, and you will create employees who take pride in your company. I once created a video that showed how our company's software was a part of everyday life. It was created in 2002. It's still being used today!
Thanks to: Thomas Butta of 21Weeks, LLC.

31. Fire Up

To motivate employees Recognize! Recognize! Recognize! Reward! Reward! Reward! Always recognize accomplishment and/or efforts in public. Do it often and with sincerity. Recognize individual performers and groups. Make it a big deal. Know your employees and what lights their fire not what lights your fire. Apply the spark, recognition.
Thanks to: Mitch Carnell of SPWC.

32. Let Folks Do What They Do Best

If employers can empower their employees to do what they love to do and what they do best, they will not only be more productive, but also much happier. There is something specific that each of us is here to do. Enacting our unique purpose in the world is a greater source of fulfillment than the possession of any object. In our company, we call this "Owning Your Unique Expression."
Thanks to: Jeffrey Gitterman of Beyond Success Consulting.

33. Compliment/Support Your People

I have found that typically if you make it a habit to compliment the work/attitude of those around you that better morale is created which manifests in better production all around. Being consistent in your standards helps and 'getting dirty' by sometimes working alongside your People helps too. Don't be afraid to remove 'bad attitude ' personality types---poor attitude is like a spreads like cancer.
Thanks to: Richard Johnson of Jedi Knight Improvements, Inc..

34. Be Detailed and Specific

The best and longest lasting way to motivate employees is to acknowledge them for a job well done, being as specific and detailed as you can, so they truly know what they are doing well which will support and encourage them to continue doing so.
Thanks to: Rosanne Dausilio PhD of Human Technologies Global Inc.

35. On a Mission!

Make them feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves or even the company! Here are three ways to do that: 1. Post your company's mission statement in prominent places around the office. 2. Convey the idea that what they're doing is important to the rest of the team or even to the rest of society. 3. Believe that idea yourself and lead by example!
Thanks to: Tim David of The Compel Model.

36. Great Way to Motivate

The single best way I've ever found to motivate employees or anyone else is this:

Build your people up. Make them feel important. If your people 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, the harder they will work to hang on to your regard.
Thanks to: Barry Maher of Barry Maher & Asasociates.

37. Value People

Motivating employees is relatively simple: engage them in the process of their own--and ultimately, your--success. Ask for their ideas for improvement and implement as many suggestions as possible. Treat them as a vital component of your business success. When employees are actively engaged, they will dig deep to make their very best contribution based on their capacity to do so. It's human nature to give your best when you feel validated, respected and honored for your unique contribution.
Thanks to: Charlon Bobo of EditCopyProof.

38. Motivate By Asking Questions

Create a motivating experience for your employees by discovering what they enjoy and then align their work with what you discover.

Ask questions like:

1. What are you doing at work when the hours seem to fly by?

2. When you aren't under pressure, what do you choose to do first?

3. If money weren't an issue, what work would you choose?

4. What advice or assistance do people seek from you?

Don't try to figure people out. They will tell you what work they love if you ask them.
Thanks to: Marcia Reynolds of Covisioning LLC.

39. Catch All Employees Red Handed

According to the New York Times best seller, How Full Is Your Bucket?, 65 percent of Americans report receiving no recognition for good work in the past year. Yet, a recent survey of American workers stated that the #1 performance motivator was a simple pat on the back by anyone. Super achievers understand the power of catching someone doing something right. In short, top producers become evangelists for celebration within their organizations.
Thanks to: Bill Todd of Immediate Impact Marketing.

40. Loyal, Dedicated Employees

Regularly give your employees sincere, specific praise & "pats on the back." Give them unexpected small gifts, extra breaks, lunch with the boss, & your undivided attention. Be sensitive to what's going on in their life, helpful, & let them know they matter. Make sure to brag about them to others when they can overhear. Critique them when you have to for unsatisfactory work in a positive, not demeaning manner. Do these things & you'll have loyal, dedicated employees!
Thanks to: Beth Earle of DBA Beth Earle.

41. Stop DEMOTIVATING employees

If you STOP DEMOTIVATING THEM, it gives employees room and incentive to use their natural internal motivation.

Read Dilbert. The pointy-haired boss has, over the cartoon's history, demonstrated the obvious stupidities we managers are guilty of.
Thanks to: Bob Eddy of Bob Eddy, Management Consultant.

42. To Each, His (or Her) Own

Create a list of available, typical employee motivators (i.e., pay increase, bonus, event tickets, merchandise, comp time, gifts, titles, promotions, special assignments, etc.) and distribute it to each employee. Instruct them to prioritize the list with #1 being what would motivate them the most and ask them to return the prioritized list to you privately. Keep it in their personnel file to refer to when recognizing top-notch performance.
Thanks to: Bill Corbett of Cooperative Kids.

43. Motivating Through Blocks

From a psychological perspective, motivation is powered by need, and often "blocked" by issues. Ask two questions to gain insight: 1) What about your job/position bores you?; and, 2) What are you truly afraid of in the company - in your position? Boredom is the antithesis & opportunity of motivation. Setting up a plan to move employees into action that removes boredom is motivation. Learning about fears is to learn about self-esteem and insecurity issues that block motivation to confidently move.
Thanks to: W. Michael King, Ph.D. of Trusted Advisor, Mentor, Consultant.

44. Respect Their Sovereignty

Bottom line? Respect employees' sovereignty at work. Not doing so can be detrimental. Call your managers leaders instead of managers. The name manager has meaning that is offensive to employees. It suggests ‘the boss’—someone who dominates. However, it’s not enough to change the title. Engender self-leadership to create accountability and eliminate the need for micro-managing. Also, release employees that don’t fit—employees wanting to coast along and not fulfill their potential.
Thanks to: Cathy Archer of A Different Path A Different Result.

45. Fuel Efficient Staff

Create a Radical Learning environment, one that is fuel efficient (it provides its own energy), social (when one learns, everyone learns), sticky (lessons are remembered), and guilt free (knowing it all takes a back seat to learning what is needed for the job). It only requires managerial commitment to motivating staff not a big budget.
Thanks to: Madelyn Blair of Pelerei, Inc.

46. Who Really Motivates?

News Flash: workers motivate themselves! My job as boss is to communicate my goal, and once workers accept it, take care of these three things:
remove anything that distracts workers' focus from the goal
provide all resources so they can meet the goal
reward their success with meaningful rewards (rewards workers value.)

The workers do the motivating. All I have to do is lead. Once I learned this truth, getting jobs done with employees, volunteers, or associates became fun!
Thanks to: Katherine Kama'ema'e Smith of Honu Publications.

47. Recognize Potential

Nancy knew right away that I was capable of so much more than receptionist in spite of having to be shown how to turn on the computer my first day. Because she not only saw my potential but never put a "job description" box around me, I was quickly promoted to marketing secretary. That's where after being told by the COO not to spend any more time making a tedious overtime process more efficient, Gerald backed me as I took that four person process to a one person, day and a half process.
Thanks to: Shelley Ellis of Content Network Insider.

48. You've Got to "Make it Real!"

The best strategy for motivating employees is to “Make it Real.” This means that your managers are trained to make all of their employee communications believable. When employees trust your motives and accept your message as genuine, they’ll want to bring higher morale to work. If they feel as though you’re just “throwing ‘em a bone” and your recognition is more for your benefit than theirs, employees will emotionally disengage and morale will plummet.
Thanks to: John Schaefer of Schaefer Recognition Group.

49. Instant Gratification

Reward people as soon as possible when they go above and beyond, whether the act is large or small. Match the reward to the contribution. For example, coming in half an hour early to set up for a meeting might be matched with a gift certificate for freshly baked cookies at a local bakery--and a thank you. Closing a big deal earns a bonus in the next paycheck--and a thank you. Always a thank you!
Thanks to: Maryann Karinch of Business Lessons from the Edge.

50. Using Peers to Motivate

Employees like to be recognized for their talents, respected for their expertise and appreciated for their contributions. Being recognized by their peers can be a useful way to accomplish these needs. Establish a place on your intranet for your associates to recognize each other for going above and beyond. These postings can go to the employees' manager to be put into the employees' file. Also use them in employee newsletters to highlight great work. It's easy and cost effective.
Thanks to: Brenda Gustafson One Step Ahead, LLC.

51. Motivation by Recognition

There's nothing cosmic about motivating employees. Most people want to be part of a winning team, so help them understand why what they do is important and why their personal contribution is critical to the team's success. There are many different motivational techniques. Some work, some don't. Success seems to be primarily dependent on the individual to be motivated. This technique works more often than any other I've seen.
Thanks to: Bob Mason of RLM Planning and Leadership.

52. Best Way to Motivate Employees

I have found that the most effective way to motivate and keep employees loyal is to keep them abreast of everything that is happening in the company - good or bad. Right along with this is to always say "thank you" when they have completed a project or informed you about something.
Thanks to: Sheila G. McCurdy of clutter STOP.

53. Help Them Be Proud!

Dignify employees. A woman who puts clips on pens now says with pride: “I am responsible for the image of our company. If the clip isn’t buffed so it shines and if it isn’t perfectly aligned on the pen, then our customer will have a rumpled lapel pocket- and that is not the image we want for our company.”

When asked to temporarily package pens, she will still do her very best. Why? Because she doesn’t want her perfectly buffed and aligned clips and pens to be jostled in transit.
Thanks to: Deborah Laurel of Laurel and Associates, Ltd..

54. High Definition Leadership Tip

The best practice for motivating our employees is the transparency discovery:

Create an environment for intentional, intimate dialogue with your employees. Share a real life experience that rocked your world and invite others to share also. This dialogue provides relief for one of the greatest human needs - to be heard. You will be amazed at what you discover. They will be amazed that you took the time to listen.

PS - It's easy to motivate people who you take time to understand.

Thanks to: Troy Campbell of TROYBOY INTERNATIONAL.

55. Carry-ins Carry You Through

As a keynote speaker, I am asked many times how we keep employees motivated. At our call center, we work on motivation issues every day. Of all the things you could do, a carry-in lunch is definitely the best.
Carry-in lunches motivate your people and get them working together on a fun project. We try to have one as often as possible. You would be amazed to see how many excellent chefs you have. People have so much fun preparing their favorite recipes and eating together.
Thanks to: Tron Jordheim of PhoneSmart.

56. Give 'Em Vision!

Help your people know where you are taking the company (your vision), and that you need them to help make it happen (their unique role). When someone does something helpful, reward them with praise & also a bonus.

Don't be afraid to give those bonuses for performance - SHOW your thanks for helping realize your vision. Make sure to create a SYSTEM of "performance-based compensation" that makes it clear to your people how they will be rewarded when they are a part of growing to your vision.
Thanks to: Henri Schauffler of Marketing With Henri Dot Com.

57. Want a Fully Motivated Team?

A leader who wants to create an environment where the employees are motivated should create a focal point. A focal point is simply a meaningful theme that everyone can relate to and makes them feel their job is important to the success of the company. It must be designed in a way that everyone can contribute to it and the focal point must be easy to understand and measure.

An example is Ford's “Quality is Job One”. Easy to understand, everyone can contribute and easy to measure.
Thanks to: Randy Goruk of

58. Best Creative Tip to Motivate

My favorite way is to celebrate them regularly. Find what they are doing right and celebrate with surprise pizza lunches, coffee and brownies, or a day in their honor: on that day their photo is placed everywhere in special frames and they are recognized with a "great job" ceremony and receive a $100 gift certificate along with a framed million dollar bill saying "your work is worth millions to our company". This results in employees working hard to be celebrated and earn the rewards.
Thanks to: Terri Levine of Levine Business Coaching.

59. Motivation is a 4 Letter Word.

Coffee mugs, ropes courses, money, motivational speakers- their impact is either minimal or temporary, and sometimes both. Employees want to be engaged and own their success and destiny. To truly motivate your employees, engage them in transformational conversations that make a difference in their work, success and satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to engage your employees in conversations of significance that impact their lives, their work, and the contribution they bring to your company.
Thanks to: Rich Largman.

60. Hand-written Notes are Magical

One of the standards at my advertising agency was that all employees were required to write one hand-written note, monthly, to a fellow employee telling that person something positive about their contribution to the team or to a client. The more specific the details, the better. What I discovered was that most employees taped those notes on their office walls and left them there for continued motivation. Hand-written notes work like magic to improve motivation and morale.
Thanks to: Tom Porter of Business Lessons From Nature.

61. Show, Tell and Inspire!

One of the best motivators I've found is SHOWING a team of employees about what their effort creates and how their customers use and benefit from it. Identifying with customers, and knowing how they use and benefit from the product or service your team creates can inspire a whole new level of commitment, enthusiasm and excellence. Can't show your employees what they create? Ask a customer to come in and tell them. Customers LOVE this opportunity -- they KNOW it will benefit them! Try it and see.
Thanks to: Dr. Tom Taylor of Victory For Leaders.

62. Seals, Sardines & Cupcakes

Keeping employees motivated day-in and day-out isn’t the result of one-time events like parties, cookouts or passing out cupcakes on Tuesdays. Employees aren’t trained seals who will patty-cake to get their sardine – build an environment where they motivate themselves. Let them know you have their back. Let them make decisions. Seek out and listen to their feedback. Say thank you and mean it. Say I’m sorry and mean it. And then pass out cupcakes on Tuesday.
Thanks to: Jane Perdue of The Braithewaite Group.

63. Knock Their Socks Off Campaign

Have each employee put a tag line on their email signature block that says: How's my service? Please contact my manager to let her know at When a manager receives a compliment, that employee is given a pair of slippers to wear that day as well as each subsequent time they receive a compliment. The benefits: comfy feet and recognition not just from their manager, but from the client and their peers when they see them wearing slippers!
Thanks to: Jane Schulte of PRISM Business Advisors.

64. Money as Best Motivator

Frederick Herzberg did the seminal study on motivation in the 1950s. Nothing has changed since then. Based on his findings in this study and my forty years of experience in the world of work as an executive, consultant, and teacher, I believe that money spread over an extended period via a progressive wage or salary program coupled with a well defined promotion system and bonus plan for exceptional performance is the most effective way to continually motivate employees.
Thanks to: Leonard Scott of Leonard Scott & Company.

65. Inspiring by Empowering

Recognizing the worth of employees and acknowledging that worth by placing faith and trust in them is critical for motivation. Employees should have control over their work and be evaluated and recognized on how well they handle it. Frustration occurs when employees don’t receive proper recognition and are not given enough control over their job duties. With a sense of ownership and proper recognition in place, employees will be more motivated to deliver excellence day-after-day.
Thanks to: K.L. Alston of K.L. Alston Enterprises.

66. Motivation is in the Selection

Too many times busy executives neglect the employee selection function. The Human Resources function is often treated as the step-child of executive leadership. My counsel is for small business owners to spend less to zero time thinking up the latest trick to motivate employees and spend a huge amount of time thinking about how to build a team of highly self-motivated employees. As motivation is wholly from within, choosing the right team of self-motivated employees is the only way to go.
Thanks to: Johnathan M. Holifield.

67. Enhancing Pride & Joy In Work

A major barrier to experiencing joy in work is the annual review. One needs to remove barriers that rob workers of their pride of workmanship. In one company, you can work on a product until you are satisfied; in the other company, you work on the same product, but are required to make a given amount each day, regardless of circumstance. In which environment would you experience greater pride in your work and feel you had a common purpose with the management/shareholders of the company?
Thanks to: Warwick Bashford of Developing Champion People ™.

68. It's All in the Research!

Research tells us that employees are primarily motivated by four things: 1) Having a manager who shows care, interest and concern for them 2) Knowing what is expected of them 3) Having a role that fits their abilities 4) Receiving positive feedback and recognition regularly for work well done. I’d call this ‘effective people management’ and many people call it common sense. It does make sense, but it sure ain’t common!
Thanks to: Joan Henshaw of 10 Minute Management Toolkit .

69. Wow Them

To motivate and bring out the best in your employees is to 'wow' them making them feel special and significant, that their contribution is important. Managers should learn to give them the three 'A's:

- Attention, making them feel important
- Admiration, when they have contributed something valuable to the team
- Affection, a hug or pat on the shoulder to show how special they are!!

Excellence is achieved by giving more than people expect to receive!
Thanks to: Rosie Hamilton-McGinty of A Winning Attitude.

70. Motivated Employees

I love to make each team part of the decision making process. They want to be listened to, they want to be a part of the success of the enterprise. It's all of us achieving a common goal. As a leader I do have goals to achieve. I need a team to support these goals. That's why they must be part of the process.
Thanks to: Norman Lacasse.

71. Joy Rules!

Fun, experienced from the top down, is one of the most powerful but underutilized motivators! I have spent the past 30 years and countless hours helping corporations hone leadership skills in most well-known industries and joy in the workplace is catchy. Joyful leaders create joyful environments that attract happy people. Happy teams are productive teams. Joy permeates the culture, creating a corporate high. It is an unquantifiable attribute with a quantifiable result: a healthy bottom line.
Thanks to: Filomena Warihay, Ph.D. of Take Charge Consultants, Inc..

72. Celebrating Success

Rewards- our employees get cSubs $$ & a Pizza Party for their successes including client compliments, client referrals, each year of service, community service, a new employee, going beyond, increased efficiencies, reducing costs, etc.

Accumulate 5,000 cSub $$ worth of successes & exchange for a vacation for 6 people anywhere in the U.S.A. 8,000 cSubs $$$ is a vacation plus airfare for 2.
Acknowledging, rewarding and celebrating our success in this way has been key to our growth.

Thanks to: Julie Auslander of cSubs --Subscriptions Simplified.

73. Good Ideas? We’ve Got Them.

What motivates staff to submit ideas? I set a format for staff to submit good ideas. Each employee averages 20 ideas a year, and 60 percent are used. Small motivational awards, up to 50$ can be made and suggestions implemented immediately.

First motivate your people, then give them a structure for creating ideas. Finally reward them for their good ideas.

Thanks to: Frances Coombes of Motivate Yourself.

74. Create Blissful Work

Stop trying to fit square pegs in round holes – it’s miserable for everyone! Discover how individual staff members like to contribute... through processes and procedures, creativity, innovation, kindness, saving costs, creating new possibilities etc. Allow them to contribute in ways that work best for their specific talents and abilities... and remember to show gratitude for their contributions.
Thanks to: Lisa Murray of Revive Business Coaching.

75. Motivation Through Engagement

Inspired performance/employee engagement helps staff work with purpose- more than simply showing up. Share Talents-leave a legacy/retain corporate knowledge. Give Back/Pay it Forward-volunteer as a team.
Thanks to: Charmaine Hammond of Hammond International Inc..

76. No Negatives Allowed Here!!

Employees engaged in a personal development program perform better and team work is initiated; constantly promoting a positive attitude in the work place keeps motivation high and performance high, no negatives allowed here.
Thanks to: Deianna Collier of Attracting The Happy Life Group.

77. Employee Motivation Stress Tip

Workplace stress costs USA businesses $300 Billion per year according to the American Institute of Stress. Stress programs which incorporate meditation contribute to increased absorption in work tasks, lower absenteeism, better decision making and better communication. Employees can be encouraged to take 1 or 2 minutes out of each hour for stretching, mindfulness based activities, prayer and anything which is grounding, balancing and centering. Little actions go a long way.
Thanks to: Tom Von Deck of Monkey Wisdom Workplace Meditation .

78. Reduce Topmost Employee Stress

Tip: Remember, the most stressful thing for most employees at work is the inability to do their jobs. So, as a manager, calendar personal stress each employee incurs (family illness, death, divorce, etc.) Then, if/when the employee performs less than optimally, bring the personal stress into the discussion in a caring way. Show you want to work it out the best that the job allows. Let the employee take the lead. Try to accommodate, especially by lightening workload temporarily.

Thanks to: Melvyn Lurie, M.D. of PsychePolitics.

79. Sustained Employee Motivation

High performing organizations tend to possess this counter-intuitive quality: TRANSPARENCY. This is too often seen as a weakness. It's actually a sign of great strength. The leaders are open and vulnerable, admit mistakes, and ask for feedback. Quickly and naturally, their subordinates act the same way. Important learning occurs, strong relationships are created, employee engagement reaches unprecedented levels, and sales and earnings achieve breakthrough results.
Thanks to: Al Ritter of Ritter Consulting Group.

80. Powerful Formula for Business

How engaged is your team going into 2010? Do you have what you need in place to grow your productivity this year?
Involvement = Engagement

Engagement = Commitment

Commitment = Loyalty

Loyalty = Increased Productivity

Thanks to: Chris Bell of Customer Experiences Ltd.

81. Service Passwords

Without a sense of being appreciated, people lose their desire, effectiveness, and energy to serve customers.

Service work is very demanding, and the worker needs proper training, support, and motivation. He or she needs an occasional pat on the back for a job well done. People need to be appreciated as much as they need to earn a decent living. Without a sense of being appreciated, people lose their desire, effectiveness, and energy to serve customers.
Thanks to: Ken Bossone of World Positive Thinkers Club.

82. Unique, immediate recognition

Take them fly-fishing! That’s one of the things Matt Colligan, Champion Windows-Colorado Springs has done to reward employees. He tries to recognize accomplishments immediately, sometimes giving out certificates on the spot. Teams are recognized with special activities for hitting goals, such as taking the entire team fly-fishing with a guide. Happy families contribute to employee success, so when the company reached a goal Matt treated his staff and spouses to the restaurant of their choice.
Thanks to: Matt Colligan of Champion Windows - Colorado Springs.

Do you have another way to motivate employees that was missed? If so, please share it below.
In the meantime, another thanks to everyone who contributed to this article!

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
  • Pingback: Tweets that mention More than 80 Strategies to Motivate Your Employees « Unsolicited Business Advice from Carol Roth --

  • Okay, so my favorite from the list is #1…. mainly because I can identify with it. I am money motivated. But, not everyone is.

    One of the best ways to motivate employees is understand that they are all individuals, with their own talents, needs, and problems. Simply put, they are not you! Many leaders expect what they would get from themselves from their employees… and most of the time that just isn’t going to happen. That is why you run things, and they don’t. You are different.

    Motivate your employees by identifying with them, get to know them, what they like, what makes them tick, what is their view of this workplace and how does it fit into their life. Then, create an environment that they can each thrive in.

    You don’t have to reward an employee just for a job well done, the surprise of something simple that lets them know that you have an interest in them for no reason whatsoever has a huge effect on their view of their importance in your organization.

    This is how rock star employees are made, they didn’t just show up off the street that way, they were cultivated. Make sure the job loves them and they will love it back, and give much more because they have a purpose in doing so.

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  • CanoeCrew

    E-Learning, Conferences, the old fashioned classroom, etc. A stagnant mind makes for stagnant work!

  • Here are some tips for you to make your employees achieve better result
    – Value people working for you
    – Do not forget about the praise
    – Financial motivation
    – Higher level of work
    – Care about the harmony
    – Team work
    – Setting an example
    – Remove tension in time

    Sincerely, Ruslan

  • @Andrew

    I think the reality is that different employees are motivated differently. 80+ suggestions should cover it. lol.

    Thanks as always for your input!


  • @CanoeCrew

    Agreed. I think that information is power. It is so critical to let the employees know not just what to do, but WHY they are doing it!

    Thanks for your comments.


  • @Ruslan

    Thanks for these tips. I appreciate your contribution.


  • Saw this on Amplify from @franchiseking. Awesome post. You put a lot of hard work into this.

    I think appreciation is a great motivator. I like to feel appreciated not only by having my work recognized but by cash. I also think a fun work environment is also a great strategy.

    Thanks again!

  • @Tom:

    So nice of you to stop by and comment- appreciated! The contributors did a fantastic job this time around.

    Speaking of appreciation, I agree with your sentiments completely. Hope to see you again.


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  • I would switch #1 and #2. Cash is a very effective short-term motivator, but as soon as people come to expect it (whether as salary, bonuses, regular incentives, etc.) it loses its power.

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  • @Todd:

    Thanks for the comments. The list is in no particular order, but I happen to know the gentleman who submitted number #1 quite well, and for him, I can tell you that IS the motivator.


  • Dan Greeley

    I would not list the number 1 strategy to motivate employees as “Cash is King”. Money is rarely a long term motivator, nor one of the things that is “really” important to people. Yes, there is a point where money does matter and can be a deciding factor whether to stay in one job or another, but beyond being reasonable, it is NOT a driver in the long run.

  • @Dan:
    Per the intro and previous comments, the tips aren’t in any particular order- they are all relevant ideas. However, I do know the gentlemen who submitted the first tip and for him and many of his colleagues, $ for sure is a top motivator.

    That being said, I do believe that different people are motivated differently and that is why there is a comprehensive list so that employers can choose strategies that fit with their employees and their culture.

    Thanks for adding.


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  • Very instructive posts, you made some good factors here and for certain most people will agree together with your blog.

  • Great List! I think you saved the best for last. I love #82. At our company we try to do unique things as a team to inspire each member to work together as a team. I LOVED THE LIST!

  • @Derek

    Thanks- I appreciate you stopping by to say so!

  • A great learning opportunity given on a platter. It is painstakingly compiled. A nobel cause in the HR sphere.

  • Pingback: How to Motivate Your Employees – The Key to Commitment and Working Beyond Their Job Description » Article Wonderland()

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  • JethroRedd

    I would say that not money can only help motivate employees. There are lots of different ways to motivate employees like a simple acknowledgement. Saying to an employee “good job” or “you’re doing great” is also a great way to motivate employees. This way employees would work even harder and won’t think that all the hard work that he/she has done to the company don’t come to waste. Simple things can also help motivate employees. Like in our company even though the management constantly monitors employees on how employees use the computer at work using this tool ( ). It does not block social media and all unrelated to work websites. These way employees can get motivated and inspire while working that also boost employee’s productivity.  

  • phicksteven

    I absolutely agree with the facts mentioned here for motivating employees. Practically I was thinking that the tips to motivate the employees are the real facts that stays with the monetary factor like salary, perks, allowances and so on. Later on being in the HR administration department, I came to know the real facts that could motivate an employee. And with all the facts I landed up with an extreme fact that time matters a lot and is one of the major factor in motivating employees. Thanks to Replicon hours tracking tool ( ) that has extended support in keeping track of employees and getting paid accordingly which builds up a clear relation and picture among the employees and company delivering the success at an extreme level.

  • computech

    I believe the most important considerations in employee motivation are job security, hourly pay or compensation, health benefits and safety in the work environment.
    Implementing FLSA and other HR policy will make ultimate change in employees work culture. I’ve read detailed information about FLSA compliance from this article –

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    wow this is a great page! you should also check ou this video deff gets me going under stress!!

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  • Employees need a work environment where are constantly motivated in various aspects. The employers should keep in mind and encourage them in such ways so that they become more positive to work in the organisation.

  • Ella Bane

    Who doesn’t want extra cash anyway, if the employees are financially motivated, they’ll find all the means to have that coveted monetary bonus. But at the end of the day, <a href=””>financial motivation</a> does not in any way increase productivity in my opinion. It is just a temporary solution for the problem at hand, you cannot give a bonus every now and then just for the employee to put his/her foot forward, they should put their best every time they go to work and not because they are motivated with that mighty dollar.

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