How to Motivate Employees: A 4-Part Formula to Employee Performance

how to motivate employeesHave you ever wondered how to motivate employees? If you’re new to the management game, you’ll quickly find that offering cash or setting hard deadlines doesn’t foster long-term, genuine employee motivation.

Most of the time, it doesn’t even boost employee performance. So what does?


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We’re happy to tell you that we’ve found the answer. If you’re like the millions of other leaders who find themselves wondering how to motivate employees, here’s your four-part formula.


Part 1: Recognition


Feeling valued has consistently been one of the top drivers of employee engagement. Meaning, when employees feel appreciated, they’re more likely to put forth discretionary effort (or go the extra mile) for their organization. But don’t take research’s word for it. Just ask employees.

Roughly 90 percent of employees said they’re motivated by positive feedback; and 69 percent said they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Want employees to work hard and stay motivated? You betta’ recognize.


Part 2: Goals


Studies show, people who set goals are often more successful than those who don’t. A study conducted by a Harvard MBA program analyzed the success of three student groups:

  1. Those who wrote down goals with written plans to accomplish them
  2. Those who had goals in mind but didn’t write them down
  3. Those who set no goals
After 10 years, the study found:
  • Students who had goals in mind earned 2X the amount of students who set no goals.
  • Students who wrote down goals with plans to accomplish them earned 10X the amount of the other two groups combined.

You can’t argue with results. When it comes to individual success and motivation, goals are crucial. Goal setting shows employees where they want to go; goal tracking keeps them motivated on the way there.


Part 3: Feedback


We know that motivated employees crave feedback in order to learn, grow, and succeed. But when it comes to feedback on performance, organizations still aren’t giving employees what they need in order to stay engaged and motivated. 

  • 65 percent of employees want more feedback
  • 43 percent of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, compared to only 18 percent of employees with low engagement
  • 40 percent of workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback
  • 15 percent lower turnover rates in companies that implement regular employee feedback

Empower employees to receive feedback from peers and leaders; stimulate employee learning, growth, and development; boost engagement, motivation, and performance. Win-win-win.


Part 4: One-on-Ones

More and more organizations are replacing archaic annual performance reviews with a much more motivating solution – manager-employee one-on-one conversations. In fact, one-on-one meetings are highly engaged organizations number one method of communication, ranking above emails from leadership and all-company meetings.

More than 85 percent of highly engaged organizations said their managers and employees had one-on-ones, compared to just half of disengaged organizations. It’s no surprise to us that engaged organizations are implementing practices that encourage frequent performance conversations. Want motivated employees? Follow suit.



In our experience, this is the formula to boost employee performance motivation. But the formula works so much better when you have the right tools. Learn more about The Business Case for Modern Performance Management.

Business Case for Modern Performance Management

Published September 3, 2016 | Written By Natalie Wickham