14 proven ways to inspire employees to do their best

July 21, 2020

Experts talk about motivation in the workplace

Employees are the foundation of every successful company. The more inspired and motivated they are to work for you, the bigger the results they’ll be bringing in. As a manager and leader it is your duty to inspire employees to do their best. Failing to do so will not only earn you bad reputation, but will lead your company into the abyss.

 Hence the importance of knowing how to inspire employees and extracting the best of their skillset.

How to inspire employees to do their best?

There are many ways to inspire employees to do their best. Your best bet is to always listen to their needs and be supportive instead of being a bad boss and punishing them for their mistakes.

It takes a mix of emotional intelligence and good leadership skills to keep the motivation in the workplace at constant high. 

Four-day work week

We’ve recently made a safe and socially-distanced return to the office, and a return to our four-day working week. Whilst working from home we reverted to the usual 9-5, five days a week. At the office, however, we work from 8-6, 4 days a week. Whilst the days are slightly longer, we all agree that the benefits of a four-day working week hugely outweigh the extra 2 hours per day. Many enjoy a three day weekend with either a Monday or Friday off. I, personally, have a Wednesday off, and I find this mid-week break incredibly revitalising.

Hugo Condie, PR Assistant at VerriBerri

Understandable company vision

The best way I have found to inspire employees to do their best is to help them understand the vision of the business and how their contributions make a difference.

I reiterate the vision continually in weekly team meetings and encourage staff to use their initiative to generate ideas of their own that may contribute to achieving that vision.  We are a team and although it’s my dream I am honest about the fact that the path is not clear and I need their help (especially with curveballs like Covid!)

There are lots of menial jobs for the more junior roles – especially interns – however, if you sell them the dream and share the journey so far they will be much more bought into the brand and want to be a part of its success so will not mind doing the more boring tasks.

Jennifer Bailey, CEO​ at Calla

Give them autonomy

Since I founded my business, almost 10 years ago now, I have always recognised that my employees are my biggest strength, whether that’s full-time employees with whom I have contact every day or contractors across the country.

Many were, and still are in some cases, far more experienced than me in their areas of expertise and acknowledging this has ensured they feel involved and committed to the business. They are involved in decision making, trusted and given autonomy to deliver their work. We have strengthened our management team over time, ensuring full leadership accountability via weekly level 10 meetings. 

I trust the team we have built to do the job and do it well, we aren’t about to babysit our people while they do their work and this has resulted in a workforce who believe in and are committed to making inurface the best it can be.

Josh Bunce. Founder and CEO of inurface Group

Treat them as your equals

I own a very small ladies boutique in Emsworth, Hampshire. I have two part-time colleagues (notice I call them colleagues and not staff!)

We work together, I ask their opinion and include them in decisions about merchandising and buying.  My success is their success – we all want to be busy and I know they want to please me. I trust them completely and I know it is reciprocated.

I spoil them at Christmas, usually with a hamper and a meal out, they get to buy stock at cost which works both ways – if they wear it, it’s my advert – they know that and love it!

Whilst I had to put them on furlough I made up the 20% – small gestures mean everything.  We cover each other for holidays and sickness – I’m very flexible.

No pressure selling incentives, they do it because they want to. It’s a nice atmosphere and the enjoyment at work seems to be the motivation – they are genuinely excited to tell me if it’s been a good day!

Above all, I don’t take advantage – look after them and be kind, you get what you give in all walks of life!

Karen Hall, Owner of Karen George

Encourage friendly competition

One of the best ways to inspire employees to do their best is to encourage friendly competition at the workplace. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition as it can create a productive environment and
increase camaraderie. It also increases employees’ participation.

Scott Rosenberg, CRO at MaryRuth Organics

Approach mistakes with empathy

When there are mistakes made approach the mistake with empathy. Often employees get discouraged when their supervisors blame them for mistakes and do not work collaboratively. It is very powerful to view yourself as someone who not only enforces standards but teaches those standards. Approach low employee performance, especially at the beginning of their employment, with curiosity. View the employee as someone who really does want to do a good job, but just has barriers between them and the job well-done.

I often ask my direct reports how could I train you better? Why didn’t things turn out as expected. When approached with curiosity we can encourage our employees to improve their performance while also empowering them instead of blaming them.

Sarah Vancini, Co-Founder of Career Baboon

Have the right employee in the right role

Company motivation can often be the deciding factor when it comes to your team’s overall productivity – especially when they’re working remotely. Therefore, the most important thing to keep in mind is ensuring that your employees are happy and actively engaged in their work.

One of the best ways to do so is to take special care in monitoring if the right employee is in the right role. Even when a person may initially apply for a particular position, in time, you may realize that they are better-suited for another department. Providing your team with opportunities for continued training, growth from within and options to change roles, can be a great incentive to stay put when other companies come calling.

Greg Gillman, Chief Revenue Officer at MuteSix

Give them ownership of their work

The number one way to inspire employees to do their best is to trust their work and give them ownership of the task or the project. It’s crucial to provide them with everything they need to succeed to avoid the risk of them slacking off in the middle of their career growth. You need to talk to them as equals who do not need spoon-feeding or baby-sitting.

Entrusting your workforce with key responsibilities and allowing them to fail and succeed on their own terms will give them an opportunity to show you what they can do. When you have demanding but not unreasonable expectations for your employees and give them proper feedback and praise, they will be motivated to set their own goals!

Jack Benzaquen, CEO of Duradry

Celebrate milestones

Don’t wait until the entire goal is completed. Offer encouragement and positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is one of the oldest, tried, and true psychological principles. Stop and congratulate everyone for their work and contributions along the way.

Wayne Connors, Managing Director of ACCL

Be a cheerleader

Demonstrate how much you believe in your employees by consistently telling them and allowing your actions to convey it, e.g. give them the confidence to run with a project on their own. If you motivate and inspire your people, they are going to want to pour their heart and soul into their work, and will rise up to your belief in them. Rally employees from different teams and departments around a common vision and mission, and acknowledge their successes. This creates a true team mentality, and everyone will work with energy and conviction.

Tia Graham, Founder of Arrive At Happy 

Reward their results

There will be moments when a pat on the back will not be not enough to inspire your employees. When it comes to rewarding engaged employees, consider giving basic incentives.

It doesn’t have to be monetary incentives all of the time; easy items like getting a personal parking spot at work for a week will be sufficient. Rewarding the staff also need to be a part of the organizational benefits.

Brian Chung, CEO & Co-Founder of Alabaster

Pay your employees more

Money is the most powerful way to inspire your employees to do their best. People do their work for the money they are paid. If you need to boost the morale of your employees, raising their salary is the best strategy. It isn’t just about making more money; it’s also a reflection of how much the employer supports and values them. People are more motivated to work for organizations that highly value them.

You must devote yourself to employee motivation if you want to be a great employer. Staff is the lifeblood of every organization, but if they are not motivated, they will not perform well. A motivated employee, on the other hand, would want to give their best effort.

Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer at TRGDatacenters

Create a friendly work environment

Your employees spend a significant time of their lives in the workplace. As a result, make the workplace as friendly and appealing as possible. They would be more than happy to come to work every day if you build a friendly environment that is supportive and comfortable.

Daniel Velez Vasquez, CEO at Home Security

Implement the 5 hows

In my opinion, one of the key things to remember when we’re talking about driving the best from people is effective problem resolution. A real test of the team/leader relationship is what happens when there are challenges which must be overcome and problems that need to be resolved.

Asking “why” doesn’t work as well as we think it does. People refer to the concept of “5 whys” – asking why 5 times to get the root cause of an issue.

When we use the word “why” it is loaded with blame. It starts when we’re children – “why did the milk get spilt?”, “why are you late?”, “why is there rubbish everywhere?”. The list goes on. As soon as you use the word “why”, deep-seated synapses in our brains get to work and we are on guard. Deep down why equals blame.

To get the best of people even amidst mounting challenges, we should use the “5 hows”. That way we begin to get real value, clarity and refinement from the questions.

The 5 hows reveal the truth faster, more effectively, and leads us to a root cause we can overcome. Leave the blame at the door and solve the problem.

Jamie Hinton, CEO at Razor


Inspiring your employees to give and do their best directly results in better results for the entire company. Every team is different on its own and you need to figure out which of the ideas above will inspire your staff the most. For some it’s a bonus at the end of the year, for others it’s a paid day-off every month.

Open communication makes the biggest difference in the leader/team relationship. Speak clearly and listen carefully. A satisfied worker is as precious as a gold mine.

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