What motivates employees to perform well?

May 31, 2022
min read

Why do we work? The answer for most, not surprisingly, is money – as the saying goes, money makes the world go round. But beyond working to earn a living, what keeps people motivated and willing to show up to work every day? We knew there had to be more; surveys have shown that less than 15% of people choose to move on from their current jobs for reasons related to financial compensation. So, what makes people move on from their positions? And, more importantly, what keeps people driven enough to stay with a company?

Keeping employees motivated is something all business leaders need to think about. Businesses are only as strong as the workforce behind them – and a workforce that’s motivated is most likely happy, engaged, and productive, as well. In this blog, we explore the many methods that a company can adopt to motivate its employees to perform well.

Bonuses and monetary rewards

To start off the list, we have an obvious motivator: more money. On top of regular pay, offering monetary rewards to employees that perform well and exceed expectations is a great way to keep them encouraged in the workplace. This can be done through lump sum bonuses, commission, pay raises, or even contests for cash prizes. These rewards can be given to employees for reasons like achieving goals, completing certain programs, or for staying with the company for a long period of time. 

For newer businesses, a great incentive is profit sharing: this rewards employees with a sense of ownership, and motivates them to work hard to further develop the company and increase its success (since they get a piece of the pie!). 

Positive company culture

Company culture plays a huge role in employee satisfaction, which drives employee motivation. Employees that feel a sense of happiness and belonging in their workplace are more likely to be productive and engaged. But what constitutes a positive, healthy company culture? A company culture is the attitudes and behaviours of a company; you can learn about a company’s culture by observing interactions between employees, looking at its core values and the stances it takes, and paying attention to leadership. When trying to understand if a company has a healthy culture, it helps to look at three aspects: wellbeing, values, and how they approach equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).


When a company culture is positive, the health (both physical and mental) and wellness of employees is top of mind. Companies can prioritise their employees’ health by providing personal days (to take time off from work when needed), offering wellness activities (e.g. weekly meditation sessions), setting boundaries (e.g. no after-hours messages), and being mindful of the risk of burnout. 


Company culture begins with the organisation’s foundation – that is, the core values that the organisation lives out. A positive company culture includes values that all employees agree on and can get behind. 


How a company approaches EDI is a clear indicator of its culture. Ensuring that employees feel they belong and are represented by the company contributes to employee satisfaction. A huge part of company culture is the individuality of each employee, and how all of the unique personalities work together – so, a positive company culture is open and encourages its people to be themselves. 

Growth opportunities

Investing in employees’ personal progression is one of the best ways to motivate them to perform well. When employees are given the opportunity to grow, it shows that the company truly values the role they play and believes in their potential. Companies can motivate their employees by taking an active role in their learning and development, through professional development days, training, courses, and/or mentorship. Not only does this motivate employees to perform well, but it encourages them to stay with the company for longer. 


Providing tangible rewards to employees is good, but simply acknowledging employees for their efforts and achievements can also go a long way. In fact, recognition is a fundamental human need, and it motivates employees to continue doing good work. How a company recognizes its employees is also important – every individual is different, so how one employee wants to be recognized will differ from the next. Some employees may like public shoutouts or formal certificates/awards given in front of the company, while others prefer private praise via email or Slack message. Whatever the means, providing recognition to your employees is a great way to keep them motivated and satisfied.

Freedom and flexibility

One way to motivate employees that may be more unconventional is by offering them freedom and flexibility in the workplace. With the new world of work, employees are looking for more give from companies, by way of flexible work schedules and/or work from home (WFH) opportunities. Employees are people first before they are workers, with different lives that can’t always fit into a nine-to-five schedule. Offering employees the chance to adjust work hours for appointments, family matters, and other commitments, and/or giving them the opportunity to WFH when they can is a great way to show that the company understands that there’s more to living than working. When employees are able to prioritise other aspects of their life, it can motivate them to perform better at work, as they feel they have the space and capacity to do so.

Great role models and leaders 

Last on our list, but certainly not least: a good way to motivate employees to perform well is to have great mentors and leadership available for them to turn to or look up to in the company. When employees are led by role models that they see doing their best, it motivates them to also do their best. Employees want to work for someone who is compassionate and capable – they want to see that their leadership is hard-working, but also self-aware, supportive, and understanding of every member of the team. 

Learn more with Humi

  • One of the best ways to improve company culture is to implement a feedback culture. To learn how to apply this approach in your own workplace, check out our ebook, 10X your team’s performance with real-time feedback.
  • Recognizing employees is a great way to motivate them. Learn about starting an employee recognition program in your own company through our webinar, Let’s talk rewards: employee recognition done right.
  • Professional development opportunities show employees that they are valued, which encourages them to do good work for their company. For more on professional development, check out our blog.

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