How to motivate your employees

At a time when competition for talent is hotter than ever, as a Practice owner you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your staff engaged, motivated and happy in the workplace – and to ensure that they are performing to their upmost potential.

This can be a tricky thing to balance; bosses usually want their workforce to be more committed, while employees can sometimes feel overworked and unappreciated. So how can you boost employee engagement without piling on the pressure? And which method works best – reward or recognition?
A recent article on the Business2Community website explores this issue further, using HRZone’s Employee Engagement Hierarchy, based on psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The system determines an employee’s engagement level according to how well their needs are being met – either through reward or recognition, which both fulfil different needs and are therefore suited to different individuals.

Let’s take a further look at how reward and recognition can increase employee motivation and engagement:

Rewards can be financial rewards – such as bonuses, pay rises or gift cards – or any other tangible prize for good performance; either way, they can be an incredibly motivating tool. They can also help to compensate low-paid jobs or those with less job satisfaction than other roles; what’s more, it makes your Practice look more appealing to potential employees, attracting a higher standard of candidate.

On the other hand, however, there are some limitations with extrinsic tangible rewards; while they certainly provide short-term motivation, they generally do not drive engagement in the long term. You’ll most likely find that you have to produce regular reward opportunities in order to see their effects, which is an ongoing financial commitment you may not be prepared for.

Another downside to rewards is that they can cause a competitive culture within your Practice, discouraging teamwork and collaboration in the process. They can also result in staff focusing too much on achievements that get rewards, rather than other areas of their performance.


Otherwise known as intrinsic or psychic rewards, recognition is more psychological than tangible. A verbal or written recognition of a job well done – this might be a skill, achievement or general performance – can work wonders for an employee’s sense of motivation, engagement, enthusiasm and satisfaction.

Recognition gives employees a sense of pride and care in their work, and it can boost their job satisfaction to see the importance of their role within the wider business operations. Even better, an individual will usually want to show their employer that the recognition was justified – meaning the ongoing effects can last much longer than any financial reward.

And what about the negatives? There are some who suggest there’s actually a risk that staff might stop trying so hard after receiving an intrinsic reward, feeling that they have already proved themselves. Others argue that staff who never get recognised may feel undervalued in comparison to their colleagues.

Whichever way you look at it, there are more reasons to create a workplace culture of recognition than not. Unlike tangible rewards, there is no financial investment required, and it can be put into motion straight away. Once your staff feel that their hard work and achievements are recognised and celebrated, you will see a boost in both productivity and satisfaction – a win-win for everyone.