Lead and motivate your staff

What motivates employees?


Before you can create a motivated workforce, you need to understand why workers may lack motivation in the first place.

Indicators of low motivation

Some of the indicators of low motivation for your employees could be:

  • high staff turnover
  • low productivity
  • a poor workplace atmosphere
  • a lot of employee grievances to deal with

Low motivation among your employees could be caused by:

  • monotonous work
  • lack of praise
  • individuals feeling ignored
  • a poor reward structure
  • little opportunity for promotion or advancement within the organisation

Motivation: job satisfaction

The way your employees feel about their job and their workplace determines how motivated they are. There is a clear link between job satisfaction and productivity.

Job satisfaction depends partly on tangible rewards - for example, how much a person is paid and what benefits they receive. See how to set the right pay rates and implement staff incentive schemes.

However, job satisfaction also depends on the culture of an organisation. This means the things that make your business distinctive and make the people who work there proud to do so.

How to motivate your workforce

You can motivate people with:

  • varied and interesting work - perhaps giving the opportunity to travel
  • demonstration of trust - delegating key tasks can empower employees and stimulate innovation
  • high-quality training and development - eg encouragement to study for professional qualifications
  • an 'open door' culture in which managers are approachable
  • consistent and genuine leadership
  • helping them to feel part of a team - giving them a sense of belonging and loyalty to the other team members - see how to build and manage an effective team
  • respect for a good work-life balance - eg offering the opportunity for flexible working - see promote good work/life balance in your business
  • fairness at work, including promoting equality and diversity
  • proactive and regular communication
  • regular appraisal and positive feedback - restating business objectives and recognising your staff's contribution - see managing the performance of your staff
  • requests for feedback, either in person or via staff surveys, on how employees feel about their roles, the support they get, and improvements to the business - see employee engagement
  • the chance to socialise with colleagues at organised events
  • recognition and reward for performance - set clear objectives and celebrate employee achievement - any reward should be seen as fair and transparent to all staff - see rewarding good staff performance
  • encouragement - if someone's standards fall short, help them to get back on track or offer more training if needed - see implement staff incentive schemes

Be sympathetic to the needs of your employees. For example, you should have appropriate policies for compassionate leave and time off. Read more on allowing time off work and how to set up employment policies for your business.