Employee motivation is a major component of employee engagement as well as one of the most important metrics for a successful business. Motivation directly impacts individual productivity, whether on a single project, professional development, or even onboarding. 

That’s why many organizations spend millions on employee motivation strategies. Google’s 20% rule is a famous example of that, where employees are expected to spend 20% of their time on their own projects and ideas. This encourages creativity and innovation so the company keeps ideas fresh and employees excited to work.  

The importance of employee motivation

The benefits of motivated employees include increased productivity, reduced business costs, and more. By understanding the reasoning behind employee behaviors and actions, and using those results to motivate them, you can improve business performance. 

According to Gallup, unmotivated employees can cost the U.S. as much as $350 billion in lost productivity each year. Therefore, learning how to motivate your employees is crucial to reducing your business expenses. Motivated employees will also be more engaged, which will result in higher employee retention, productivity, and company sales.

The good news is focusing on employee engagement can reduce employee turnover. When employees are motivated, they’re far less likely to leave their job. They’ll also feel a stronger connection to the company, which can result in them being more productive and successful within their role.

A study by Harvard Business Review revealed factors like role design, organizational identity, career ladders, community, resource planning, and leadership were all more important than compensation. Governing processes and performance reviews built around helping people to improve were also found to contribute to employee productivity.

Knowing the importance of motivation in the workplace, here are some ways you can nurture self-motivated employees:

  • Commitment – People who are motivated to work for the company are committed to it. They enjoy their work and are willing to do their best. That pays off in the long term through the volume and quality of their work. 
  • Employee satisfaction – People who enjoy their work are less likely to quit, more likely to engage in projects and assignments, and more likely to achieve. In turn, that yields reductions in turnover and interpersonal disputes. 
  • Personal investment – Workplace motivation inspires personal motivation, such as furthering their career or expanding their skill set. Whether they take on training and new roles, bring innovative thinking to a meeting with colleagues, or provide fresh ideas and solutions to managers, your employees will contribute in new and interesting ways, offer insight, and bring value to the organization. 
  • Productivity – Motivation inspires people to work well and be productive. Instead of dreading work, they’ll get started right away, saving time and completing assignments within their expected deadlines. 

What impedes employee motivation? 

Motivation killers in the office can lower productivity, employee satisfaction, the quality of your product or service, and your ability to attract top talent. Keep an eye out for the following motivation killers that could hinder your business and talent from achieving peak performance.

Inadequate tools

Give your employees the tools to do their jobs well. This means reliable office equipment, a clean space to work, and access to a restroom and whatever else they need to perform. For example, if you hire a graphic designer, provide image editing software and a computer with plenty of memory.

Poor communication

A lack of clarity about one’s job responsibilities can be a huge motivation killer. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, oversights, duplicate work, and overall decreased productivity. The ability to communicate effectively is the mark of a good leader and the backbone of a functioning office. Make sure your teams understand their duties and how they keep the company in operation.

A lack of learning and development opportunities

Show your employees you’re as invested in their development as they are in the company’s growth. Motivate employees by offering them a chance to learn how to do their jobs better and further their careers. Since businesses and industries constantly change, it’s also important to train your teams to stay on top of trends, new developments, and discoveries.

A lack of positive reinforcement

Praise is a powerful motivator and a great way to explain to employees what you expect of them. Instead of getting angry when an employee does something wrong, offer praise when they do something right. This not only teaches your workforce about high standards, but also shows them their best efforts are noticed.

Vertical management

Vertical management is a top-to-bottom management style that leaves little to no room for collaboration. Top management makes decisions that their employees have to follow with no say in the matter. This type of leadership style makes it hard for employees to invest themselves in work because their insights and ideas are ignored.


Many people assume the more time you spend at your job, the more work you’ll complete. This belief is incorrect, and in fact, spending more time can reduce productivity, as seen in presenteeism, where employees are physically present but not mentally “there.” Presenteeism occurs due to illness such as a cold or flu, chronic illness, stress, sudden disasters or an emergency, or emotional turmoil like heartbreak. It’s a significant problem that costs U.S. businesses an estimated $150 billion in lost work productivity each year.

Understanding types of workers 

Knowing the difference between a maker and a manager, and where your employees fall on the spectrum, can impact your company’s productivity: It helps determine how they should structure their days, handle meetings, and approach collaboration. 

What is a manager?

A manager is a leader whose responsibilities include project management, organization, and keeping clients happy. They perform most of their work in meetings and through delegation. The biggest concerns of a manager include getting deliverables to clients, making sure the company is profitable (revenue versus costs), and ensuring continued business success.

Best schedule for a manager: Managers can divide their day into segments and still be productive in meetings. Their day isn’t thrown off if they take a break.

What is a maker?

A maker, also known as a technician, is responsible for creating deliverables. They’re writers, designers, developers, and anyone else who creates the products or services your business sells. If you run a PR agency, for example, your makers would be the people who write press releases and land placements.

A maker’s biggest concern is creating quality deliverables within a deadline that meet the client’s expectations.

Best schedule for a maker: A maker needs uninterrupted periods of time to finish their work. Meetings are disruptive to their days, since it breaks up their periods of continuous productivity.

Whereas managers can hop from a meeting to a task and remain productive, makers tend to get into a workflow that should be left undisturbed. If a maker has to attend meetings, try to schedule them on one day of the week, or get them out of the way in the morning. Having a meeting loom may disrupt their creativity and focus.

Workplace productivity best practices

Motivating employees involves creating healthy workplaces where communication, personal comfort, professional development, and growth opportunities are all present. 

However, it’s also a good idea to figure out where your lack of productivity and motivation stems from before implementing new processes. Some things to look into include: 

  • Team structure and personalities within teams
  • Interpersonal conflicts 
  • Management styles across the organization 
  • Emotional intelligence across the organization 
  • Workloads and deadlines (e.g., if your organization is constantly overworked and running from emergency to emergency) 
  • Tool and solution availability 
  • Skills and job role fit 

If you have existing, pressing problems, you should tackle those first. However, the following best practices will also help. 

Invest in good work-life balance 

Encourage employees to maintain balance in their lives. Similarly, eating healthy and exercising is tied to an increase in workplace productivity, getting more sleep helps employees earn more, and meditation promotes divergent thinking. As an HR professional, you’ll need to build a case for wellness in the workplace and demonstrate the ROI of having happy, healthy employees to your executives.

Improve communication

Good communication means having leaders who are emotionally intelligent, able to communicate in different ways, and can establish connections with employees. It also means making people feel heard. For example, implementing emotional intelligence training for leaders and teams can significantly improve communication 

Other tactics like planning stand-up meetings, creating retrospectives where people can honestly share what went well and what didn’t in the previous sprint, or setting aside time during meetings to relax and talk to colleagues can all serve to motivate employees. 

Another important aspect of communication is being able to make friends and connections. For example, one study by O.C. Tanner, a global employee recognition company, showed 72% of people with good friends at work are satisfied with their jobs versus 54% who don’t, and 75% of people with a good friend at work feel they can “take on anything at work” compared to just 58% without that friendship. 

Establishing good communication requires organizations to make time for non-work-related activities, encourage employees to build friendships, and foster social connections. That can look like giving time for employees to have lunch together, taking part in sports and off-site activities together, and providing other bonding opportunities.

Limit meetings

The Harvard Business Review revealed the average office employee has 23 hours of meetings per week – taking up more than half their time. Limiting meetings to the mornings or a few days a week frees up time, reduces frustration, and allows people to focus on critical tasks. If you do experience a communication gap because of too few meetings, you can look at efficient ways to fill it, like working collaboratively in a room rather than having a meeting. 

Recognize achievements and success 

Recognition is one of the most effective motivators for humans.

Even something as simple as saying “good job” on completion of a project can motivate people to continue their work efforts in future assignments. However, you can recognize individual achievement through other means, such as a shoutout in an internal newsletter or an award for exceptional work.

Maintain a positive attitude

Failure is inevitable. While it’s understandable that leaders and managers are under pressure to be successful, it’s important that they keep a cool head when things go wrong. It’s important to maintain a positive and proactive attitude and look for what went wrong and how to resolve it rather than assign blame. If managers fail to remain calm and rational, employees will feel disheartened and unmotivated, focusing on the failure rather than looking forward to success. 

Ensure skills and roles match 

According to a study by Achievers, about 70% of employees feel only an average level of engagement at work. While there are multiple reasons for this, one of the most important is a mismatch between skills and the tasks assigned.

Each person has different strengths, and a good manager should recognize these talents and assign tasks accordingly. Ask people how they feel about their current job, what kinds of tasks they’re most interested in, and what they think they can do best. Proper task assignment will boost employee engagement and have a positive impact on their work.

Tip: Use employee assessment tools to help you match skills and talents to roles before and after hiring.

Give constructive feedback

Both positive and negative feedback are important to employee success. Positive is needed to encourage people to maintain good performance, and negative can be used to learn from mistakes and point out possible improvements.

Feedback should also be clear and actionable. For example, you can say, “Great job with these presentations. I especially liked how well you visualized the data and the way you formulated your arguments.” This shows people their strengths and offers motivation to nurture them.

Tip: Negative feedback is not meant to sound like blame. Point out the specific areas that need improvement and advise on the best ways to fix them or offer help (e.g., training or a course).

Establish transparent communication

Efficient communication between you and your employees is crucial for everyone to be productive. To promote open expression, follow these principles:

  • Always keep in mind the goal of communication is to find the best solution, not to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.
  • Everyone has the right to a voice and deserves to be heard.
  • Even a seemingly crazy idea may turn out to be brilliant. Encourage the free sharing of thoughts.
  • Don’t punish employees for saying something that you personally disagree with.
  • Respect each other and treat people the way you want to be treated.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and teach your employees to do the same.

Follow these guidelines to build trust in your employees, encourage honest communication, and .

Assign tasks at the right time 

Picking the right days and times to get people into projects is a minute but impactful tactic. One study of over 300 Canadian resource managers found Tuesdays are the most productive days of the week. If you want to roll out a new project or have employees come into work on a certain day, look at when people have the most energy in your workplace. Often, Monday is spent answering emails and catching up on meetings, and Tuesday is when the real work happens. 

Understand values

All personnel need to know the company values because they’re what your brand stands for. For example, if you value transparency, your sales department should adopt an open and honest approach to their tactics.

Values tell your team how to act professionally and align the decisions in their role.

Define overall goals

Your company’s “big” goals can be considered your mission statement. These are vital to keep the business defensible, unique, and sustainable. When the entire company knows and strives to hit your company goals, it drives overall success.

Defining goals ensures every action your employees make pushes the company further towards their main goals. It also shows how each team member is vital for reaching those goals, which creates a sense of purpose. As such, it’s crucial to align day-to-day work with those values and goals; if people can’t see how their work contributes to overall objectives, the goals are meaningless. 

Optimize performance management 

Every organization needs some way to track how and when work is completed. However, deadlines and goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Many companies are increasingly turning to OKRs to set ambitious goals that encourage productivity rather than hitting a goal and then stopping. 

Whatever productivity metric your organization uses has to be specific, measurable, and based on real data. It’s helpful to invite employees who’ll have to meet those goals to take part in setting them. That means having teams discuss creating their own milestones, goals, timelines, and assessment of whether the total workload – including time for unexpected but inevitable emergency situations — is realistic and achievable. 

Putting people under too much pressure reduces motivation, but failing to give them a challenge does the same. Here are a few tips to find the right balance:

  • Set deadlines earlier than when work is actually due. If you can do so without creating too much pressure, it increases performance while leaving room for things to be late if necessary.
  • Break large milestones down into plateaus or smaller goals. People will see ongoing productivity and progress, which is incredibly motivating. 
  • Create a culture of establishing deadlines as a tool to manage work, not to control submission dates.

Demonstrate accountability 

Asking people to be accountable for their work means giving them ownership of those processes. That includes setting expectations, communicating responsibilities, and providing a channel to ask for help. It also requires you to let employees work according to their preferences to achieve their best results. Having personal ownership over their work can make people feel: 

  • Valued — Providing expected outcomes and allowing employees to complete assignments as they see fit induces feelings of value in them. In addition, this freedom lets them leverage their expertise and thus produce a better result. For example, Gallup found that employees whose managers involved them in goal setting were 3.6 times more likely to be engaged in their work than other employees.
  • Challenged — Having ownership of a process, task, or role means tackling the ups and downs, planning, strategy, timelines, and technical aspects. That introduces opportunities for employees to challenge themselves and expand their abilities. 
  • Proud — People who hold themselves accountable for their successes and failures feel proud of their accomplishments, and that desire can motivate them to work hard. When they can see how they contribute to the business, their team, and business outcomes, it creates motivation to continue making a difference. 

On the other hand, when things go wrong, there should be consequences and responsibility, such as having to stay and fix an issue, forgo a productivity bonus, etc. 

Make people feel heard 

It’s important to listen to your employees. If someone voices a problem or concern, it should be acknowledged and raised during meetings to look for a solution. If someone communicates in different ways, they should have a means of speaking up and feeling heard. 

Offer communication and emotional intelligence training to employees and especially leadership to foster this type of environment. This can also include celebrating success, highlighting where people did well, and using words and spoken appreciation. 

Invest in the future

Besides a positive workplace, you also have to offer employees stability, security, and future growth opportunities. Integrate resources like internal jobs boards, training programs, professional development plans, coaching, and opportunities for promotion into managerial or senior positions can motivate employees to perform well in their day-to-day tasks and boost their company loyalty. Training, re-training as old skills become obsolete, and promoting development will ensure you keep top talent while unearthing hidden talent you didn’t realize you had. 

For example, Google experienced a dip in productivity in the early days of the 2020 pandemic. The company resolved this issue by implementing coaching, listening to people, and offering avenues to change roles where people were no longer functioning well.

Leverage your resources

Different departments have different resources at their disposal. Each team member should know what those are to keep them well equipped, knowledgeable, and capable of doing their jobs well.

For example, if someone is working on your ads team, they should have ready access to their budgets, software tools, and any consultants your company uses. To ensure employees make the most of what’s available to them, take action such as: 

  • Promoting tools and apps across the workplace
  • Adding external people and consultants to Slack channels
  • Creating a central repository of knowledge
  • Introducing searchable databases 

Create team goals

Team goals and achievable tasks boost productivity by giving individual employees something to work toward. It’s important to set goals at several levels, starting with high-level targets for total performance.

These targets should be based on data, such as productivity you achieved last year or what you have to achieve to reach a minimum viable income. It’s also important to ensure your sales team has the manpower, information, and resources to achieve those targets.

Once you’ve created your goals, you can break them down into smaller, more achievable milestones. However, avoid setting daily requirements, as this can be demotivating if employees regularly fail to complete them.

Instead, set goals around benchmarks and past performance. You may want to introduce weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals that allow teams to make small achievements each day. 

Introduce team-based performance rewards

It’s often a good idea to avoid individual performance rewards because they create income disparities within teams. However, rewarding the team as a whole for achieving goals helps motivate everyone to continue to achieve.

Upgrade technology

Obsolete technology frustrates workers and hinders their productivity. To unleash employee potential and increase productivity, businesses need to adopt modern technology such as virtual collaboration tools like Slack or Teams, which let cross-functional teams connect, collaborate, share files, data, and expertise, all in real time and from anywhere in the world. 

Innovative workplace technology will also put an end to those seemingly endless company email chains. With solutions like Quip, chat is built into documents so your entire team can write, edit, and discuss them in real time. It’s a great example of how advancing your technology helps employees work faster and smarter. 

Through these practices, you’ll encourage motivation in your employees and boost productivity throughout your organization.

How to improve office space to encourage productivity 

Anyone who’s worked in multiple offices throughout their career knows some are more conducive to productivity than others. An employee who performs well in one office may complete significantly less work over the course of a day if their office doesn’t provide the resources they need.

This is important to remember when designing a workspace, whether it’s an all-in-one coworking space or a traditional office setting. You can send employee surveys to better understand what elements the average worker needs in an office to maximize their productivity. The following are some of the more important features commonly cited.

Climate control 

A study by Chron found the ideal temperature in the workplace is between 69.8 and 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That recommendation is backed by OSHA, which has a wider range of regulations. Keeping a cool, comfortable office space enables focus, keeps people comfortable, and impacts alertness and energy. Too warm, and people become lethargic and irritable; too cold, and they’ll be too chilled to focus on work. 

The “two pizza” rule 

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously created the “two pizza” rule, which states you should never have meetings where two pizzas couldn’t feed everybody in the room. It’s based on the idea that too many people can make meetings less productive. Meetings can sometimes be time-consuming disruptions, so look at your approach to meetings and analyze whether they help or hinder your productivity. Think about who needs to be in attendance and list the objectives at the beginning so everyone is clear about how they contribute to the meeting’s goal.

Introduce a little nature

Having potted plants not only livens up an office, but also provides better air quality and up to a 12% increase in productivity, according to a study from Washington State University. Let plenty of sunlight into the office to help indoor plants thrive, as plants have been shown to boost productivity in busy offices. 

Add a lounge

Provide a space in the office where employees can get work done in an environment other than their desks. Sometimes a change of scenery is needed to inspire new ideas and help employees get away from their daily routines to focus completely on a new project.

Invest in comfort 

Obviously, an employee’s desk should offer enough space for any items they use regularly, like a computer, writing materials, a phone, and files. Just make sure you don’t prioritize functionality so much that you neglect comfort.

It’s also important to focus on the ergonomics of the chairs your staff will be sitting in when planning an office design. Physical comfort can have a major impact on productivity, so it’s important to choose models that keep everyone comfortable.


Providing employees with the tools they need to work is an obvious requirement, but you also need to offer amenities that make the office a more appealing place to be. As previously stated, research shows happy employees are more productive. Offering coffee, tea, and designating areas where people can socialize will help workers feel satisfied on the job.


Make sure the office design isn’t so cramped that cleaning it regularly is a difficult chore, as a messy office will dampen a worker’s mood. Additionally, if you can’t regularly sanitize the office, workers are more likely to be exposed to bacteria and get sick, which greatly reduces company productivity. 

Access to fun

If you’re still deciding where your office should be located, keep in mind that workers also report wanting easy access to restaurants or bars they can visit after work. Being able to unwind and socialize at the end of the day can significantly impact employee satisfaction. If the area also offers abundant parking and easy access to public transportation, even better.

Natural light

A well-lit office makes getting work done easier than in a dim space. However, don’t rely solely on artificial light; install large windows to let in sufficient natural light. In fact, studies indicate that exposure to natural light can boost productivity.

An office space unique to its culture

A physical workspace that’s comfortable and inviting has a lasting effect on employees. A study revealed evidence that elements of office design have a great influence on the productivity and well-being of the people who work there. So, employers now recognize the value of outfitting office spaces with details like warm LED lighting, windows that provide sunlight and views, desks that can be adjusted to sit or stand for comfort, and dedicated mindfulness areas that help employees rejuvenate. 

Build stronger teams 

Many businesses rely on teamwork to succeed, but with an increasing number of companies doing business worldwide, workforces are becoming more diverse. In this new global environment, navigating cultural differences to promote team spirit can be daunting, but it is possible.

Get to know team members as individuals

Team leader’s need to become familiar with their members not just as professionals but as individuals. Getting to know people on an individual level builds connections that move past cultural differences. These bonds create and sustain team spirit by making employees feel valued and appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the team.

There are many ways to foster relationships between team members, such as ‘water cooler’ talk, team-building exercises, and volunteer work. Create opportunities for team members to learn about their coworkers, their cultures, perspectives, and lifestyles to foster a healthy work environment and encourage open-mindedness.

Remove any company culture barriers

Company culture can improve team spirit, but it can also unintentionally lead to discrimination. However, you can build successful multicultural teams without undermining or compromising company culture. One way is to ensure it embraces diversity and establishes norms that include practices from all cultures on the team. The more diverse your staff, the easier it’ll be to build a multicultural team with innovative ideas and strong team spirit.

Keep open communication

Miscommunication is a huge barrier to cross-cultural team spirit. A great way to counteract that is to leverage technology and implement employee self-service software. This software can manage several aspects of the team, including schedules and deadlines, and prevent misunderstandings between team members.

Deal with conflict immediately

Regardless of a team’s cultural makeup, conflict is inevitable, but it can be magnified in multicultural teams. When conflict arises, address it immediately. This ensures small issues don’t spiral out of control. A good team leader needs to understand cultural perspectives and be mindful of them to minimize conflict.

Map personalities

Understanding individual personalities on a team is important for ensuring teams align on communication style, emotional intelligence, work ethic, work method, and social needs. The MBTI, for example, measures 16 basic personality types, each with unique idiosyncrasies. As such, team conflicts may stem from simple issues relating to different methods of communication.

For example, a team lead might communicate using strict, pragmatic instructions to a team made up of mostly creative people who need freedom to work in their own way. This will stifle creativity and lower morale. 

Understanding team member personalities can also help improve performance across the organization. Team composition based on personality is increasingly regarded as important to performance and individual happiness, as a mix of personalities functions better, is more creative, and can collaborate in ways that a silo of similar personalities won’t.

Most team frameworks are based on personality assessments like the MBTI or the Big 5 and will help you see where different people complement or clash with each other.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, emotional quotient, or EQ, is increasingly seen as crucial to how people function together. It’s a measure of how well people recognize their own emotions and those of others, use that information to guide behavior and thoughts, and manage or adjust emotions and thoughts to other people and to achieve goals. 

Measuring EQ with assessments like the EQ-I 2.0 can help you understand how well people communicate, which is an important contributor to productivity and motivation.

People who have low emotional intelligence can come off as rude, impolite, and hurtful, and leaders lacking in it can deeply damage subordinate morale. Like other soft skills though, EQ is a learnable skill, and there are workshops, courses, and books on the market to help teams develop those behaviors.

Ask questions

Sometimes, dysfunctional behavior builds up over time, typically in relation to a few unresolved incidents. What starts as a single toxic person can snowball into a dysfunctional team with poor performance. This type of behavior is difficult to assess without asking questions and seeing how the team works firsthand. Swapping leaders, implementing behavior coaches, and implementing workshops are helpful methods of identifying and addressing negative behavior.

Resolving dysfunctional behavior

It’s difficult to assess a team and immediately recognize their problems. In some cases, they stem from processes and bureaucracy. Other times, it’s simply teams failing to work together or poor leadership. It’s important to be open-minded and unbiased, which may require a third party to conduct the assessments.

Problem — Disagreements are not addressed but are problematic

Team members frequently disagree but feel unable to discuss problems. This can lead to unhealthy interpersonal conflict and dropping morale. This will hurt team collaboration, as individuals won’t ask for help or feedback, won’t utilize the skills or strengths of others, and, in short, won’t be part of the team.

Solution – Review why teams fail to discuss problems and implement solutions to fix those issues. For example, if teams feel they aren’t heard, providing EQ workshops may be a good solution.

Healthy debates should be encouraged, even if encouragement involves creating team-building exercises and working to resolve negative behaviors. Getting over this type of issue may require acknowledging and working on specific instances in personal histories.

Problem – People talk about each other behind their backs

This issue can lead to silos, “cliques,” and “us versus them” mentalities.

Solution – Assess root problems, implement workplace ethics training, and hold workshops on having healthy, up-front discussions where people feel free to share constructive criticism to each other. Feedback should always be given directly to the person, not to anyone else on the team.

Problem – Not everyone contributes

Healthy teams discuss things together. Dysfunctional teams typically rely on one or two people to do all the work. This can stem from people not being heard, the leader feeling like they have the only voice, or people simply not feeling like they can speak up. In a worst-case scenario, people will remain silent or pretend to be on board with ideas they disagree with.

Solution – Introduce team-building exercises such as role-swapping, create mandatory speaking roles for everyone in the team, and have leaders specifically call out individuals to ensure everyone contributes. Discussion and debate lead to productive creativity and collaboration. Teams have to acknowledge that a certain degree of conflict is productive.

Problem – Teams lack direction

Often, this means the communication style doesn’t line up with how projects are discussed and how teams prefer to work. This can result in teams overanalyzing and wasting energy, lacking confidence, or feeling stifled by too much structure.

Solution – Assess how people communicate and work to match leadership, project, and team styles as much as possible. Most organizations have space for every type of leader, so assessing team types and matching leadership to that team is the best way to solve this issue.

Dysfunctional teams are everywhere, but the causes of dysfunction are often multifaceted. It’s important to analyze company culture, including leadership, employee interactions, and individuals to determine potential issues. Then, you can implement the right solutions to create healthy teams.

How to use digital learning to increase employee engagement

Digital learning makes professional development fun and accessible for your workforce. With it, you can improve employee engagement for your organization while growing their skill sets. 

In today’s age, employees value learning and development opportunities. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, an incredible 93% of employees stated they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. 

Developing an ongoing digital learning strategy within your organization can significantly boost employee engagement. Research shows engaged employees are happier, and increased employee engagement can lead to higher attendance, performance, service quality, safety, and employee retention. 

What is remote learning?

Remote learning allows your employees to learn new skills and expand their knowledge using an online platform. This virtual format offers employees the flexibility to learn from the comfort of their home or while in the office at work.

From mobile-based learning to live webinars, digital courses, and virtual educational activities, there’s a wide range of options available to suit your employees’ remote learning styles. The choice and flexibility digital learning provides can work wonders for your employee engagement.

1) Gamify corporate training

Gamification in corporate training isn’t a new concept. Games have an amazing ability to capture people’s attention for a long time. Moreover, video games have been shown to improve cognition, creativity, and sociability. These benefits of gaming can be equally beneficial for the workforce. 

Gamifying online education helps create a more engaging learning experience for your employees. Using gamification methods such as scoreboards can make employees feel a greater sense of ownership and purpose when engaging in tasks. This can also help organizations attract and retain top talent, build a high-performing workforce, and reduce the costs associated with employee turnover.

Large corporations have incorporated gamification into their business model and training processes. McDonald’s, for example, used gamification for till-training exercises. As a result, employees reported having a deeper understanding of the new till system, improved performance, and they felt more engaged. The implementation of this game also resulted in an increase in business performance and average order value.

In a more digital application, Salesforce employed gamification techniques to drive user adoption of their CRM system after customers reported employees were not using the platform as often as desired. This gamified approach, called Trailhead, allowed users to gain badges for achievements, compete with colleagues, and win prizes as they progressed through various stages of the learning process. 

By gamifying the learning and usage of their digital system, Salesforce was able to increase the customer’s total log-in percentage to 84%, and users reported feeling more engaged and empowered.

2) Interactive video content for employee training

As effective as online tasks are, sometimes your training needs live interaction. With 50% of YouTube users in the U.S. admitting to using the platform to learn something new, it’s clear video content can be beneficial for corporate learning. Many organizations have recognized the positive implications of video content usage in business, especially short, engaging, and interactive video formats.

According to Forrester Research, employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than read documents, emails, or articles. So, if you want to encourage your employees to engage with your training program, incorporate video format to make it more interesting.

Videos are versatile and can be used for a variety of business training and development purposes. From introducing new services to employee onboarding, demonstrating how to use a new system, or assisting employee development, video content can be implemented across various employee development initiatives.

Providing employee training via video could help increase employee engagement rates for your organization. A recent study found that 94% of employees enjoyed having at least one event live streamed. Live-streamed video content allows for authentic and impactful communication among employees.

With screen-sharing and recording capabilities, you can save your video training sessions for attendees to refer back to at a later date. Recording your video training will also produce evergreen training materials that you can use for future employee learning programs.

3) Self-directed learning 

Self-directed learning is when the responsibility of learning is transferred from the instructor to the learner. This transfer of responsibility gives the learner, or employee, the opportunity to make the decisions about their learning, allowing them to adjust the program to suit their needs and enjoy greater freedom. This increased autonomy can further increase their interest in and motivation for professional development.

Examples of online self-directed learning in organizations include letting employees set their completion dates for assessments, allowing them to complete online courses in their own time, or having an online training platform where employees can choose the modules that most interest them.

Autonomy is essential for employee engagement: Effectory discovered that 79% of autonomous employees felt more engaged and thus more accountable for their work, and they performed better as a result. Therefore, you can boost employee engagement by giving employees autonomy over their online learning.

Next time you review your employment training initiatives, consider the potential benefits of digital learning. Incorporating online learning into your employee development programs can be a great way to increase employee engagement.

Remote employee motivation

Allowing employees to work from home can increase productivity by up to 47%, if done correctly. At the same time, it’s important to manage people and ensure they receive the support they need to be productive and motivated at home. 

Below are a few tips you can use to encourage remote productivity and motivation:

  • Ensure everyone uses the same technology to communicate (e.g., a dedicated Slack channel)
  • Adopt work management platforms like Asana or Jira 
  • Track productivity by assignments completed, not hours worked
  • Use central data repositories, where everyone names and tags data using the same schemas 
  • Establish communication protocols so managers don’t contact people in other time zones when they won’t be at work 
  • Promote apps and solutions company-wide 
  • Allow employees to bring their own devices and invest in home-office equipment such as a desk, printer, computer, webcam, microphone, and reliable internet connection where necessary 
  • Hold regular employee social events. Asking employees to spend an extra hour on a Zoom call to have fun won’t be much fun. Instead, set aside time during regular meetings to chat and be social 

Hybrid work schedules are becoming the norm. However, it’s not without its growing pains, in particular concerning how to keep your employees engaged and motivated. Without face-to-face contact, it can be difficult to stay focused on work projects, especially if you add pets, housework, children, and a myriad of other distractions into the mix. Now more than ever, a human resource management system is an essential tool to ensure proper workflow and employee happiness.

With the right tools and processes in place, you can keep your employees engaged in their work and feeling like they’re still part of the team no matter where they are. It’s all about creating new rules for a new way of working.

Morning check-ins 

It’s important to start the day off right. Many people who are new to working from home think they can stay in their pajamas and sleep in, rather than sticking to their regular work routine.

By setting up a recurring video conference with your team each morning, every employee will feel the need to get up, get dressed, and get ready for work on time. This helps put people in the right frame of mind to complete a full day’s work and can be an excellent motivator.

They also give your employees daily face-to-face interaction with their colleagues to help maintain connections. It can be lonely working from home, so seeing people (even virtually) each day provides a little pep that can help them make it to the end of the day.

Cloud data storage 

When you’re in an office and need information from someone, it’s a simple case of walking to their desk and asking for it. In a remote setup though, this can be complicated because files need to be requested and then emailed, and this can cause delays. So, it’s important to store information in a cloud-based solution so people can access it whenever they need to.

Your solution also needs to be collaborative. This way, people can work on the same document online and no individual changes will be lost in the process. You can also check version histories to see what changes were made, when, and by whom.

Offer tech help 

Change and adjusting to new situations work best when it starts from the top. As a manager or boss, it’s important to show your employees how you cope with the new work-from-home setup. Make sure you’re always on time and properly prepared for each video conference, especially the morning check-ins. Additionally, if you can show your employees how to set up their home workstations, they’ll have confidence to do the same in their homes.

Encourage your employees to set up a workstation that’s free from distractions. It should be for work only — not close to a TV or where other people in the house go to relax. Keeping those areas separate will help remote workers stay focused on tasks and clearly delineate workspace from homespace.

Do social things 

If you like to do after-work drinks in the office on a Friday evening, stick to it. If the whole team has lunch together on a particular day, keep up the tradition. If you don’t have any traditions, now’s a good time to start.

All of these activities can be done virtually through video conferencing. It won’t be the same, but it still allows people to chat about non-work topics with their colleagues and lets everyone feel a connection to one another.

Keep in mind that if you work in different time zones, drinks should be avoided. And, if they’re keeping someone from logging off and enjoying their weekend, they won’t be as appreciated as you thought. Instead, try to work social things like board games into working hours that fit most everyone’s time zones. 

Check in 

It’s the senior officer’s responsibility to make sure all of their employees feel happy and that their grievances are heard. This is trickier to accomplish remotely because you can’t see people’s faces all day in the office and spot problems before they become larger issues.

Create a roster of your employees and check in with at least one person each day one-on-one. Schedule a video call so you can see their face to forge a stronger connection. By going through a roster, you can make sure no one is left out and take notes on any concerns that crop up so you know who to watch.

Invest in performance motivation 

Increasingly, younger generations are moving away from performance management toward performance motivation. Here, employees solve their own problems, create their own aspirations, and set their own expectations. Finding outcome framing tools is a good first step for this approach. Additionally, host yearly, bi-yearly, or quarterly sessions where teams sit down, discuss goals, purpose, and ambitions, and set sights on where they want to be at the end of the period. This can contribute greatly to employee motivation. 

Similarly, integrating goals into personal development and promotions can be extremely helpful in motivating people to work toward those goals. 

Other tactics HR can integrate performance motivation into everyday work include using impact descriptions — what impact does this role have? What will your impact be? — alongside job descriptions, employing self-evaluations as part of performance management, and leveraging individual development plans for every employee rather than for leadership only. 

Motivation around the holidays 

Maintaining motivation around the holidays can be difficult, even if you have a strong team that loves their work. When people anticipate vacations, it induces lethargy and mental “brain drain” that cause motivation and productivity to drop. However, you can use the below tips to help keep your people on track. 

Reserve the holiday party for the last day of work

Once you have your company celebration, your team will switch to vacation mode. That means you should expect little work to get done after they’ve had the company “end of the year” party. Save it for when it’s truly the end of the year, after all the important tasks are complete.

Offer extra holiday perks

Free coffee in the mornings or holiday-themed snacks in the afternoon can give your employees something to look forward to during the day instead of dreaming about their upcoming vacation plans. Provide even a small surprise for coming into the office to keep employees motivated.

Use positive reinforcement

Remember to thank your employees for their hard work, especially during the holidays. Highlight what they’ve achieved and recognize all employees for their successes. You can do this through an email, physical notes, or stopping by their desks and saying thank you. Positive recognition goes a long way toward keeping motivation up through the end of the year, as it reminds employees you appreciate what they do.


Highly motivated employees are engaged, productive, and invested in their jobs. They want to work, look forward to their roles, take pride in completing tasks, and seek to improve how they work. That pays off through more productivity, a higher quality of work, and increased employee retention. But generating greater motivation is often a balance between enabling employees to work well with training, good tooling, and good management, and building a culture that invests in people, robust processes, and rewarding achievements. 

Often, you can gauge the state of employee motivation by checking if employees: 

  • Contribute ideas and suggestions 
  • Feel confident their feedback and concerns are heard and addressed 
  • Socialize with colleagues and have friends at work
  • Are willing to take responsibility for their work and problems
  • Rate working at the company well and recommend others work there
  • Feel satisfaction upon completing work 
  • Feel rewarded and recognized when they put in extra effort
  • Feel involved and valued 

Good employee motivation starts with refined business processes and effective management. From there, culture fit or culture’s ability to adapt to the person, robust work processes, and open communication will do the rest. 

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick