how to motivate your employees

What it Means to Have Internally Motivated Employees

There’s something to be said for celebrating a job well done, such as taking the team out for a spontaneous happy hour after you meet a goal together, or giving an employee a special gift to commemorate a promotion or work anniversary.

But if you want your organization to really thrive, employees should come to view rewards and other external motivators — such as bonuses and lush perks — as secondary benefits at best.

After all, you don’t want them sticking around just so they can get a benefit that accompanies a certain milestone, or only working for the paycheck. Of course, pay is necessary and should be competitive, but if employees dread coming to work and are only doing so to pay their bills, that will show over time in a higher turnover rate and lower engagement.

When employees simply love what they’re doing and who they’re working with, they’ll naturally be more engaged, productive, and dedicated to the team.

Here’s what we have found at The Receptionist are the most crucial elements to creating an environment where people love coming to work.

Employees need to have fun with the people they work with.

It can seem like a tall order to create a work environment where everyone enjoys each other’s company.

However, we think that it is indeed possible — but only if employers pay special attention in the hiring process to hiring people who have a high degree of empathy and who understand the value of “fun” in a workplace culture.

how to motivate your employees

By the way, hiring people who like each other doesn’t mean hiring people who all have the same interests or similar lifestyles. It certainly doesn’t mean hiring people who get along all the time with no conflict. (Related post: Properly Dealing With Employee Conflict)

It means hiring people who are generally positive, quick to laugh, and quick to apologize in the face of a mistake.

As we explained in our post about hiring for cultural fit, we place a high value on a candidate’s ability to work well with others. During the hiring process, each applicant spends an entire day in the office and meets the rest of the people they will be working with. We have each team member rate each job candidate on a scale of one to five on the factors of experience, teamwork, competency, and culture fit — and a big part of culture fit at The Receptionist means a willingness to embrace fun at work.

It’s also worth noting that it’s much easier for employees to have fun with one another if they have ways to connect personally. Forging personal connections isn’t always easy when the whole team is remote, but we suggest some best practices in our podcast episode on having fun as a remote team.

Employees need to have some control over their work.

Studies have shown that people who have more control over their work are happier and less stressed — and that’s exactly what you want if you’re striving for internally motivated employees.

Employee control over work can show up in several ways, such as these:

  • Control over their work environment – This could be as simple as giving them the freedom to design their physical workspace as they see fit and letting them choose which equipment they want to use. Or, you could do what we do at The Receptionist and give employees the freedom to work from home at their discretion.
  • Control over their schedule – Our employees are expected to come into the office for meetings when our CEO is in town, but otherwise they’re free to work where and when they wish, as long as they meet their deadlines and deliver on expectations.
  • What they’re working on – Of course, employees should have a clear idea of what they’ll generally be responsible for before they ever accept a job. But within that framework, they should have the freedom to choose how they get their work done. They should also have a say in the goal-setting process, both for themselves and for the rest of the team — as we’ll discuss next.

Employees need to have a say in company decisions.

As we wrote in our post on goal setting, decisions that affect the entire business should never be made unilaterally.

When the rest of the team participates in the decision-making process, they feel more engaged. Employees who are involved and kept in the loop when it comes to company goals are naturally more likely to feel personally invested in making sure those goals are reached.

When company leaders listen carefully to employee’s insights and do more than pay lipservice to them, employees don’t need bonuses and other external motivators to work hard to make them happen.

On the other hand, if they’re patronized or ordered around, they’ll simply go through the motions while they’re at work.

how to motivate your employees

Employees should feel challenged but not overworked.

Employees who feel respected by company leaders and enjoy good relationships with their colleagues may need little else to come to work happy and motivated.

However, in most cases, it also helps if they have work that they find interesting and challenging, and that helps them grow as a person and/or advance along a career path.

It can be a fine line between choosing challenging goals and pushing employees too hard. But choosing goals that stretch the group can be exciting and bring individuals together to work as a team.

Employees want their work to matter.

Finally, to really come to work motivated, employees will need to feel like their work is in line with their values.

For example, it may be important to many of your employees that your workplace respects the environment by minimizing its emissions and waste. Others will expect their employer to play an active role in supporting the community, either by raising funds or planning events where employees volunteer. Still others won’t feel excited about working for your company unless they know that your products or materials are sourced fairly and ethically.

But beyond how your company deals with others in the community or the industry, employees should understand that their work is making the world a better place.

Your employees should understand that their work is making the world a better place. Share on X

No matter which industry or role they work in, employees are solving problems for customers and the community. They’re making people’s lives easier and more pleasant, and helping those people go on to solve even more problems that move us all forward.

Make sure employees see and feel how their work is helping others. This is the kind of perspective they need to help them feel energized when they come into work each morning.

Interested in learning more about how we build workplace culture at The Receptionist? Here are a few great episodes of our podcast to explore.

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