What It Truly Takes To Motivate Your Employees

Gallup research has shown that roughly 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work.

If your company is part of this dismal predicament and your strategy is to implement material perks like climbing walls, free food and bring-your-pet-to-work policies, stop right there.

The research says these approaches, while certainly a good start, are superficial Band-Aid solutions that does not address the real long-term drivers of engagement. If leaders want to see sustainable change that directly impacts their bottom line, they should be asking the question: “How do I really motivate my employees?”

That’s a great starting point for powerful discussions to take place in the C-Suite. If I’m in the executive conference room with them, here’s what I would tell them:

1. Motivate your employees by giving their work meaning and purpose.

Studies have revealed that workers who have a sense of purpose are more focused, creative, and resilient. It behooves any conscious leader to make it a practice of reminding their employees how their work makes a difference, changes the lives of people, and impacts society. Studies say employees report feeling both happier and healthier because they were able to connect to the deeper meaning of their work, and how their work ties into the mission, big picture, or personal and professional goals.

2. Motivate your employees by showing fairness.

Studies indicate that when selfless and fair leaders focus more on their employees than themselves, caring and providing for their needs, workers show up more inspired and with greater dedication to their work, which increases productivity. Furthermore, you’ll find that these exceptional bosses share their power and even status. They’ll get down in the trenches and work alongside their tribe daily or weekly, connecting to them on a deeper level, which builds trust.

3. Motivate your employees by allowing them to make decisions.

If organizations want to keep the needle moving on employee satisfaction or engagement metrics, their first priority should be to give them decision-making privileges. Allow them a seat at the table to exercise influence over things that matter. Think of projects and important meetings about strategy to involve your people. Take a cue from global insurance company Acuity, rated one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Fortune magazine. It drives loyalty by regularly letting its employees decide to which charity organizations Acuity will donate its millions.