What Motivates Employees?

By: Cindy Conti

The new world of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our workforce. From remote and hybrid work environments to digitalization and increased reliance on technologies; from cleaning protocols to how we interact with guests—the pandemic has permanently altered how we work. Not only have employees had to navigate through changes in how we work, but they have also had time to reflect on why they are working and what they want to do with their future careers. What motivates employees in the new workplace?

“When workers feel engaged, they are more likely to work harder for the good of the company.”

Research has shown that employees are finding it more difficult to feel motivated to concentrate on work. A motivated workforce is more productive than an unmotivated and disconnected one. When workers feel engaged, they are more likely to work harder for the good of the company than those who don’t understand their roles because they don’t see how their efforts contribute to its success. So what drives employee motivation, and how can you keep your employees engaged? Here are some tips on how to motivate your employees and boost morale:

Show Appreciation and Recognition

Don’t wait. Communicate immediately if you see great work being done. A quick chat with positive words of encouragement can go a long way. Highlight accomplishments using social media. Encourage peer-to-peer recognition where any employee in the organization can show appreciation for another.

Recognition doesn’t need to take the form of a cash award or cost a great deal of money. For many employees, cash rewards don’t have long-lasting impacts, and some find it an impersonal means of recognition.

Remember that each employee is a unique individual, so each person will be motivated differently. Take the time to get to know your employees. The most effective recognition programs take into consideration these differences, offering multiple forms of rewards, which should all be designed to reflect the vision and culture of your organization. Lasting recognition that energizes employees can be as simple as saying thank you at the end of the day; it costs nothing but builds trust and boosts morale and motivation. Leaders need to think outside the box to find more innovative ways to recognize their employees and reassess how success is being measured.

Provide Opportunities to Learn and Develop

Give employees time and room to grow. Offer opportunities to bridge knowledge gaps by building a succession plan for all major roles at all levels within the organization. This strategy will not only help identify your high potentials and develop future leaders, but can also be used as a motivational tool. The employees who are identified as leaders get to see the bigger picture of their career and future with the company, and how their contributions can affect the company’s success.

“Provide opportunities for peer mentoring and external training.”

Provide opportunities for peer mentoring such as setting up an internal mentorship program, encourage peer learning by identifying internal trainers through a train-the-trainer program, or provide opportunities for external training to get inspired by others in the industry.

Review your Performance Management Program

Take time to review your Performance Management program and update it where necessary. Most companies have an annual review process to track employee performance and goal completion. As part of this process, be sure to set some small short-term goals. To keep your employees motivated include some quick wins that will help boost employee morale. Consider including either shared team goals or shared targets allowing teams to collaborate and work together with a shared purpose.


Communicate Openly

It is important to create open lines of communication that allow for real-time, consistent feedback. This will change the way employees and managers collaborate and think about work.

It’s easy to say you have an open-door policy, but if it isn’t set up well or employees don’t understand the process, they will not feel comfortable providing feedback or asking questions. Encourage two-way communication and provide opportunities where employees can provide their input or voice their concerns at shift briefings, regular meetings, or open office hours.

Provide employees with information on the company’s performance and where it is headed on a regular basis. Show them that their contributions matter to the future of the organization.

Empower Employees

Implement an ‘ideas’ program. Enlist employees for innovative or cost-saving ideas and practices, identify potential improvements to the workplace, or suggestions on how to resolve challenges or difficulties. Create an email address where employees can either send in their ideas or submit through an online form or survey. Spark friendly competition and boost morale by tracking and sharing the best ideas by using a leaderboard and tying it to a rewards and recognition program.

When you take the time to show respect and appreciation, focus on employee development, and care about your employees, you build a reputation for being a top employer, and that’s a worthwhile investment.  It is worth the effort to create a workplace culture that motivates employees to do their best. go2HR, the HR and health and safety association for the BC tourism and hospitality industry, has a wealth of free resources to support you. We invite you to contact us to learn more about how you can support your employees at

Cindy Conti, CPHR, HR Consultant Vancouver, Coast & Mountains with go2HR, the human resources and health and safety association for the BC tourism industry.