Employee Motivation: What Business Leaders Need to Know

Employee Motivation: What Business Leaders Need to Know

Why is employee motivation important?

For starters, organizations nationwide are being asked to do more with less. “Feeling of overload and burnout are default emotions in today’s organizations,” said a Harvard Business Review report on employee engagement. These feeling aren’t going away: “Higher demand and fewer resources are the new normal.” Knowing this, business leaders need to recognize the value of their employees and the impact their motivation and engagement, or lack thereof, can have on the entire organization.

How do you foster employee motivation?

Motivation and engagement are essential to an organization’s long-term success; however, some struggle to develop or foster it due in large part to a lack of ownership. One ACCOR study discovered that 75% of leaders have no engagement plan or strategy, even though 90% said employee engagement has an impact on their organizations’ success. So, what should an organization do to ensure are motivated and engaged?

It begins with selecting an owner to lead and execute an overall engagement strategy. With the right leadership in place, you can begin to prioritize initiatives throughout the entire employee lifecycle. In this article we’ll cover the four stages of an employee’s career and share best practices on how you can foster motivation and engagement during each phase.

They include:

  • Recruiting & Hiring
  • Onboarding
  • Development & Retention
  • Career Pathing


Recruiting & Hiring

Manage the hiring experience

One of the best ways to motivate and engage applicants is to be transparent throughout the entire process. At some point during the recruiting process, there’s a good chance every applicant has endured a poor experience. Instead, you can rise above mediocrity and show candidates that your organization respects their time, regardless of whether they get the job. It’s critical to keep the hiring process moving at a productive, steady pace. Along with saving time and money, this also ensures that you hire the best talent before your competition gets a chance to steal them away.

And once you’ve found and hired the ideal candidate, setting proper expectations can go a long way to helping that person be motivated and engaged as they begin their new role. Think about communicating with them and preparing them for day one to help ease any fears they have. Some things you could do include:

✅ Inviting them to lunch to meet members of the team
✅ Sending a welcome video introducing them to your company
✅ Sharing an interesting article, book or piece of information about the company

These small touches help new hires feel excited and prepared for their first day. Check out the rest of our tips for successful onboarding below.

The Importance of Employee Benefits

Today’s workforce is now comprised of five generations of workers that each have their own motivations. The challenge for employers is creating attractive benefits packages that both motivate and retain these employees. That’s why many employers are breaking free from traditional benefits offering and providing their people with more progressive, non-traditional benefits.

Here are some examples:

  • On-site gym or discounted membership to local gym
  • Wellness stipends
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Enhanced parental leave
  • Company-sponsored volunteer opportunities
  • Employee sabbaticals

Onboarding New Employees

Manage the welcome experience

On a business employee’s first day, focus on introducing them to your company, your mission and how their job fits into the big picture. One way you can do this is by walking them through your company’s organizational chart and defining key leaders and roles. You’ll also want to set up one-on-one meetings with people they may work with to build relationships. Another best practice is to assign the new hire an onboarding mentor; someone on the team who has experience with the company and can be a great resource for the new hire. Creating a culture where new hires feel part of the team from day one goes a long way to ensuring that they are engaged and motivated in their new role.

Development & Retention

Train and develop the workforce on an ongoing basis

New hire training is a critical first step to increasing engagement with new hires, but it doesn’t end there. All employees, whether they’re three days or three years in, should be incentivized with ongoing training and development opportunities to help them grow in their career. Offer your people a chance to attend a conference to network with colleagues, share new ideas and learn the latest best practices. Create an internal program where employees can shadow co-workers. This is a great way to introduce and allow your people to learn about other areas of the business. Also, HR leaders and managers should consistently schedule one-on-one check-ins to gauge employee satisfaction and listen to their feedback when it comes to training and development opportunities.


Recognize them for a job well done

Compensation and benefits matter and help boost morale, but employees thrive on recognition. They want to know that they’re hard work is appreciated. Employees who receive recognition for accomplishments are seven times more likely to stay with the company and eleven times more likely to feel completely committed to the company. Employee recognition can be as simple as writing them a message on their work anniversary or birthday, saying, “thank you” for their effort and hard work. Remember, expressing your appreciation doesn’t have to be an elaborate or expensive celebration.

Promotion to Management

Realize how much influence they have

Employee engagement research suggests that managers significantly impact employee motivation – and we have the data to back it up! A recent Paycor study on employee turnover found that the #1 reason employees quit their job is due to a bad manager. This single factor accounts for 75% of voluntary turnover. As your employees develop and you promote them into higher positions, it’s crucial to be aware of the significant influence managers have over employee engagement and motivation.


Give managers the tools they need

Since managers play such a key role in developing and leading their teams, it’s critical that you equip them with the tools they need to succeed and set expectations for what you expect from them. If you have fewer managers, consider having a one-on-one conversation about your expectations and defining leadership qualities you expect from them. And if you’re in a larger organization that’s always adding new managers, think about offering a ‘managers only’ training and onboarding initiative. Regardless of where you focus your resources, you must be both intentional and clear with your expectations. For more best practices on supporting managers, check out this article.

Harvard Business Review, “How Employee Engagement Hits the Bottom Line” (2012)

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