With rising inflation, mass layoffs, and workplace stress, your employees might currently struggle with low morale. While keeping the workplace fun is important, many other ways exist to motivate employees beyond a positive work environment and good pay. In this article, we’ll share 20 ways to motivate employees that you can try on your team to keep people engaged, excited, and happy to go to work every day. So, let’s dive in.

21 Ways to Motivate Employees

1. Celebrate triumphs and milestones

The easiest way to motivate someone is to let them know you care for them. How can you show you care to employees? Congratulate them for setting milestones and accomplishing goals!

Something as small as a work anniversary, a birthday, tenure, and many more are perfect scenarios to congratulate an employee. On a three year work anniversary, you can have managers write a recommendation publicly on LinkedIn. Often, work triumphs are celebrated quietly at work only, consider making a public declaration instead.

Giving away plaques or hosting a small celebration is the right way to congratulate your employees. Encourage employee engagement from everyone on the team. And let team members know everyone will have their shining moment so no one feels left out.

employee engagement

2. Let managers express gratitude

Like the tip above, you need to let employees know you care. Managers should do the same. You can’t hold a small office celebration every time someone achieves a goal or finishes a task, but managers should know when that happens – and let employees know how important their work is.

A simple way to express gratitude is to name things you’re thankful for in team meetings. For instance, if you host a meeting for a group project, thank team members as they accomplish things. Be vocal in your praise and praise every team member for their progress. By doing this in meetings, you’ll begin to see others adopt this behavior too. Employee motivation will go up because they’ll feel recognized and appreciated for their work. After all, low job satisfaction is almost always attributed to not feeling appreciated.

3. Teach employees to self-praise

Help employees know their worth. It’s not easy to make that happen – but once you do, you will have a self-sustaining motivation machine running 24/7.

How can you help employees praise themselves? Explain how important their work is and how much they mean to the company. At the same time, tell them explicitly they should praise themselves when they achieve their goals.

You can boost employee morale by encouraging all employees to keep an Accomplishments folder where they keep positive messages, wins, and other key successes. You can also encourage employees to share their wins in Slack. If employees see a win from another team member, encourage them to vocalize their win as well. Lifting yourself and others up will improve employee morale.

go get em

4. Shake things up (every once in a while)

A sure way to kill motivation is to keep everyone doing the same daily tasks. Daily work starts to feel like a daily grind. Grinds tend to burn out anyone who undertakes it.

How can you prevent that from happening? Shake things up! Introduce new things every once in a while. At the same time, you can move people around and assign new tasks to people. Then, of course, make sure everyone is on board with it before doing so.

You can also do this by having team members help other team members when their tasks are completed. If you create a corporate culture where you have all team members help out regularly, it won’t feel like someone is intruding on your space. Plus, it helps people level up skills in new areas.

5. Have a clear path for employees

Employees want money and recognition. They know the best way to get both is to climb the corporate ladder. The best way to take advantage of that is to give them what they want. So create a clear-cut path for people to get promotions and pay rises.

Of course, moving forward on that path doesn’t have to be easy. People will have to work for it. But, at the same time, everyone should know what it takes.

One quick way to decrease employee motivation is to hire externally for senior roles instead of promoting from within. While having the most talented team is important, you should also give people room to grow upwards instead of always hiring externally for those roles.

A lack of growth will decrease employee motivation fast. So to keep employees motivated, give them challenges to prepare them for future leadership roles, such as managing freelancers, taking on more strategic projects, and more.

motivate employees

6. Encourage friendly competition

Allowing a little friendly competition within teams could help boost motivation and morale in the office.

However, motivated employees could be at risk of low job satisfaction if the competition is against one another. Or is too related to work performance.

You can create a competition where everyone works together to hit a north star metric. So instead of competing against each other, they’re collaborating.

Alternatively, if you run a contest of some sort, you could do it for a job that no one in the company has. For instance, if you want to create more buzz around your brand, you might host a competition where employees grow their LinkedIn and promote the company. And whoever gets the most engagement wins a prize. Everyone wins because they are building their personal brand. And the competition isn’t related to their job but helps the company grow regardless.

7. Nip infighting in the bud

Don’t let a friendly competition turn into fighting. That’s one way to destroy long-term motivation. Instead, figure out when competition becomes fighting and nip it in the bud.

Infighting often happens when one employee outshines the rest. When employee recognition highlights some individuals but not others who have a big impact, you’re more likely to negatively impact employee productivity. Reward everyone, but at different times.

If every employee has felt appreciated at one point or another, it’s more likely they’ll be supportive when others have their moment. However, if one employee keeps getting overlooked over the rest, infighting will naturally occur. Remember, appreciation isn’t for a select few, it’s for everyone.

work conflict

8. Go the good old reward route to motivate employees

When it comes to motivating someone, it doesn’t get any easier (and better) than placing a carrot in front of them. Maybe don’t use a literal carrot, though!

Figure out what your employees want and offer that in return for an increase in productivity or something similar. What could that reward be? Time off, a bonus, a surprise package in the mail, remote work, etc. It’s one of the best ways to motivate employees!

You could even offer a gift on their birthday and during Christmas holidays to boost morale. When companies surprise their employees with a gift, it helps reinvigorate the company culture. An element of surprise that delights people will improve employee engagement.

9. Allow employees to become part-owners

Shareholders care way more about a company’s success than employees. At the same time, people who are both employees and shareholders will put everything on the line to make things happen. That’s why it’s important to propose a stock options program.

It’ll take a while for employees to catch on to what it means to become a shareholder. You will see a rise in productivity and profits when that happens. Motivated employees will become excited to see the company’s value climb because they earn a share of its success.

By owning equity in a company, employees motivated by money will put more creativity into their work, think about what customers want, and work tirelessly to ensure that the company’s growth continues to climb in an upward trajectory.

motivate employees with company equity

10. Constantly improve the work environment

Everyone would get along if we’d live in an ideal world. Unfortunately, our lovely green Earth is far from perfect. That means employees may not get along. Having two people who don’t like each other working together may create unnecessary clashes. Motivation goes down when something like that happens.

So, what should you do when the work environment becomes toxic? Intervene and improve the situation. Challenge your team members to do something kind for one another. People are more likely to like people who accept their kindness and help.

11. Turn work into play

Gamifying is a new term – one that you should become used to. So, what does it mean to gamify something? It means turning something into a game! Or, at least, trying to figure out the way to turn an activity or task into a fun thing to do.

How can you gamify a task? Add points, rules, a competition setting, etc. As long as your employees are having fun, you’re doing it right. You can align the points to Key Performance Indictators like revenue, pageviews, or other metrics. This could help boost employee motivation.

Alternatively, you can use a tool like Bonusly, which rewards employees with gift cards when they do something nice for a colleague. The colleague decides who to award “points” to and they can redeem that for gift cards to their favorite restaurant, donation to a charity, or even cash for their PayPal account. This will definitely boost employee engagement while keeping the culture positive and company mission moving forward.

employee motivation

12. Learn about your employees motivation

This one is pretty self-explanatory. What better way to motivate your employees than to get to know them and learn what they want and need?

Taking the time for a one-on-one conversation with everyone in the office could help you take a whole new perspective regarding motivation. Then again, you may have hundreds of employees. In that case, surveys may help you better understand the people working for you.

If you notice employee performance is down, consider finding ways to make employees feel valued. But understand that everyone feels valued differently. Some feel valued when paid well, others require praise, and some prefer promotions. So value your employees in the way that motivates them.

13. Give teams a certain degree of autonomy

Micromanaging is a manager’s cardinal sin. It’s easy for employees to lose motivation and, sometimes, self-esteem when that happens. That’s why you have to find a balance between autonomy and intrusion.

Employee performance goes up with more practice. If you spend too much time micromanaging them, your team spends less time learning from trial and error. So, it’s not only about keeping employees motivated but also giving them the freedom to learn from mistakes to become experts over time.

micromanagement decreases employee morale

14. Check (and double-check) corporate culture

Is everyone in the office going too fast or too slow? Should you pump the brakes – or are things so slow that employees feel like they’re dragging their feet?

Promoting the correct corporate culture is a balancing act you can’t miss. Do it right, and profits will soar. Do it wrong, and everyone will have a hard time feeling like they’re part of the team. Establishing the right corporate culture is one of the best ways to motivate employees.

Employee engagement will require that employees feel like they’re on the right team. If everyone works in a similar style, they’ll feel like they fit in. However, it’s important to remember that diversity matters, and diversity goes beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation. In times, where an employee doesn’t fit in with the company culture, have a talk with them about how their uniqueness is a necessity on the team so they still feel valued.

15. Create a positive work environment

Stress is common at any job. An employee’s motivation will be directly impacted by how they feel at the company. You can offer employees a service like Declutter The Mind At Work, to give all employees access to a meditation app to manage their well being.

When employees or leadership are disgruntled, sometimes they just need some time to improve their mental health. A meditation app can help them calm the mind when they’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

Plans start at $20 an employee/year for teams with over 1,000 employees and $40 an employee/year for teams under 1,000 employees.

16. Break goals into small tasks

After setting a big goal, break it into small tasks. Yearly goals get broken up into one-month, three-month, and six-month goals. At the same time, each monthly goal turns into weekly and daily tasks.

Otherwise, people will feel overwhelmed at the sheer weight of what lies ahead this month, the next six months, and the entire year. Breaking goals down will alleviate anxiety.

Employee motivation will decrease if the goals are too easy or too unattainable. Setting realistic goals is key to success.

17. Encourage personal development

Establishing clear-cut goals for everyone in the office is essential. That way, everyone will pull together and charge in one direction. Team-work is very important – and so is cultivating personal growth; even more so if upper management encourages everyone to do so.

Let’s put it this way: if employees feel like employers are pushing them to be the best person they can be, they will try harder when they have to roll up their sleeves and work.

Allow employees to purchase books, online courses, conference tickets, and more to boost employee motivation. If you have a physical office, consider adding a book bar where people can take books to keep. You can stock the book bar with leadership’s favorite books to inspire your team and keep employee engagement high.

personal development

18. Bring in free food to motivate employees

Food is fuel – and comfort food is comfort fuel. So try to keep healthy snacks around the office for free. That way, people will avoid crashing down during the afternoon.

At the same time, try and set a monthly comfort food day employees can expect. That way, everyone will get their energy levels up when that date is around the corner.

If a food budget is too expensive for your business, consider hosting a “Fancy Friday.” This could be one day a month where employees dress up to go to a restaurant nearby together. They can splurge on a $50 meal to connect with one another and support a local business. If your company is remote, you can offer a $50 Uber Eats reimbursement once a month.

Alternatively, you can also surprise employees once a year with a custom snack box. A popular service is SnackMagic, you can set the budget for how much employees can spend on the box ($50 will allow employees to enjoy a filled box). And they’ll get to receive a package of snacks.

snack magic

19. Create fun activities to do in the office

Sometimes, taking a break is necessary to perform better later on. Otherwise, burning out is a sure thing. Because of that, you need to create ways for employees to wind down and relax halfway through the day. That small five-minute break will produce very motivated workers down the line.

As you can probably guess, these activities need to be limited. At least, someone should keep an eye on and prevent people from playing more than they work unless you want the productivity levels to take a nosedive.

20. Lead by example

All in all, employees want to see managers and bosses do the right thing. People who clock in at nine and out at five don’t want their boss to come after lunch only to take a three o’clock golf break two hours later.

When employees see middle and upper management do their work, they’ll do the same. So if you want to talk about ways to motivate employees, leading by example is a good way to do it.

However, when five o’clock hits, managers who end their work day on time, also set a positive example for work-life balance. Plus, it’s always nice when your boss doesn’t message you after hours because they’re still working.

work life balance to motivate employees

21. Allow remote work to motivate employees

These days one of the best ways to boost employee engagement is to allow remote work. Saving time on commuting, costs associated with travel, and spending more time at home can be real boosts for employee motivation.

People who have responsibilities for caregiving can find it difficult to manage picking up their kids from school when they have to be at an office until five. By adding more flexibility to work from home, people can do a few of their responsibilities without added stress. And it allows them to work a schedule that works with their lifestyle.

If you want to see a rise in employee motivation, consider allowing people to work remotely every day of the week. And limit meetings if possible so there’s more time for work output to be completed.


You can motivate employees a number of ways, but at the end of the day it’s personalization that matters. An element of delightful surprises, a positive work environment, flexibility in work schedules, a personalized learning and growth experience, and a few cool perks to boot can all help keep employee motivation high. If employee motivation is low, consider a survey to help understand what is happening. However, feel free to also host interviews with employees about what motivates them.