Motivational Strategies for the Workplace

by Amanda L. Webster; Updated September 26, 2017

Workers are one of a business's most essential assets. Without them, no work would ever get done. Perhaps the most indispensable asset an organization has is a motivated employee. Motivated employees are those who see the value of their work and are committed to doing it well. There are a variety of motivational strategies for improving workplace performance and productivity.

Rewards and Recognition

The effective use of rewards and recognition as a motivational strategy is essential in any workplace. Of course, fair compensation is always a strong motivator. But, offering rewards such as a certificate of appreciation or an inexpensive gift card can also be an effective motivational tool. These are especially useful when awards are handed out in front of peers in the workplace. This public recognition increases an employee’s perceived status in the workplace while simultaneously encouraging others to work harder in an effort to earn similar recognition for themselves.


Developing open and honest communication in the workplace is another essential motivational strategy. It is important for managers to communicate expectations effectively so employees have no doubt as to what is expected of them. When workers have a clear idea of management expectations, they are far more confident in their ability to do their jobs well. This confidence will translate into increased job ownership and greater motivation to meet performance goals.


Another essential motivational strategy is the development of a positive organizational culture. Social psychologist Leon Festinger founded the theory of cognitive dissonance in which, according to a writer on the Theory into Practice database website, “there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognitions (i.e., beliefs, opinions). When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance,) something must change to eliminate the dissonance.” When workers perceive a gap between the actual culture and the espoused culture of the organization, they are likely to experience a decrease in job satisfaction, which leads to a decrease in motivation.


Make sure your employees have everything they need to perform their work. This includes all supplies required, from seemingly unimportant items such as office supplies to access to information necessary to complete specific tasks. Workers are often frustrated when they have to waste time looking for the items they need to get their work done. You must also take steps to ensure workers may easily access the things they need. For example, if the individual who maintains control of the one and only key to the supply closet acts as though her coworkers are stealing her personal supplies, this will create tensions which can demotivate employees.

About the Author

Amanda L. Webster has a Master of Science in business management and a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in professional writing. She teaches a variety of business and communication courses within the Wisconsin Technical College System and works as a writer specializing in online business communications and social media marketing.

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