If your employee motivation techniques haven’t changed in the past decade, your business is probably underperforming.

In one of the final scenes of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a small army of men march on the menacing Black Gate of Mordor. The imposing gate opens, slowly revealing an army of thousands upon thousands of orcs and trolls. As fear spreads, Aragorn, leader of the men, knows he has to motivate his army.

“A day may come when the courage of Men fails… but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!”

As employee motivation techniques go, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself facing a horde of orcs and attempting to lead your employees into a battle for the future of humanity. Even so, if you’re hanging onto motivational techniques like trust falls and outdated quotes to engage your employees, you’ll be lucky to get them to come to work on time, much less follow you into battle.

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7 Employee motivation techniques that work

Motivation is easy to define: it’s an incentive. Generally, motivation comes from the desire to reach a goal, or the fear of failure (or consequences of that failure). What takes more sleuthing is figuring out what employee motivation techniques actually work. Or more accurately, what techniques work long-term. Micromanaging and threats may Recognition Powerful Employee Motivation Techniquemotivate people to work at a certain level, but that will also motivate them to look for another job.

1. Recognition

Sounds almost too easy, right? But recognizing your employees for a job well-done, a smart idea, or even the positive attitude they bring to work every day is beneficial to long-term motivation. We all like our contributions to get noticed.

2. Inclusivity

Along with recognition, it’s important to include the entire team, otherwise, it will appear you have favorites, which in turn can demotivate everyone else. Again, it’s really simple. Spread the recognition around. Everybody has at least a few things they’re really good at.

3. Make it public

Use social media to make that recognition and inclusivity public. Shout out your team on Twitter, or keep it in the office by using Slack. Listen for the high fives and encouragement when the post appears on your social wall.

4. Follow and share thought leaders on social media

Every industry has thought leaders. Whether that’s an innovative chef, a marketing guru, or an expert bioengineer, follow them on Instagram or Twitter and share their most interesting posts on your social wall for everyone in the office to see.

Recognition Powerful Employee Motivation Technique5. Hand over the handle

Handing over the social media handle for a day can motivate people to look for the best in their work environment. They control the public voice of the company, so it’s reasonable to think that most people will want to do a good job at this. Give them some advanced notice and watch the creativity flourish.

6. Retweet them

Are your employees Tweeting about something cool they’re doing at work? Retweet them. NASA does a great job at this, and while it’s true that astronauts may have the coolest job ever,  your team probably does some pretty interesting stuff, too.

7. Let them collaborate

Communication services like Slack can help your employees collaborate. Set up a channel where teams can share ideas and ask for suggestions, and share it on your social wall. As people start engaging, the ideas will grow. And so will the motivation.

3 Employee motivation techniques that don’t work

Be warned. Even though we usually think of motivation in a positive light, there are plenty of employee motivation techniques that are counterproductive.

3 Employee Motivation Techniques That Don't Work1. Calling out mistakes publicly

We all make mistakes, and sometimes we need someone to bring it to our attention. That’s best done privately. Make the successes public, keep the mistakes between you and the employee.

2. Letting favoritism grow

You can watch for this throughout your company. It’s great if employees are getting kudos on social media for their contributions but be watchful for ensuring that credit goes where it belongs.

3. Ignoring your team

Whether in person or on social media, ignoring your team won’t do anything to help motivate them. In fact, ignoring them is a good way to make them feel like their work doesn’t matter.

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