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“Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage.” Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO and chairwoman of Xerox Corporation.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Richard Branson, CEO and founder of Virgin Group.

“Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.” Jim Goodnight, CEO and co-founder of SAS Institute.


Images courtesy Johnson & Johnson, The London Economic, SAS.

Almost every CEO worth their salt will tell you that in order to run a successful business, you need to have a happy workforce. A team that believes in the company and is excited about its success will be far more productive than a team that doesn’t care either way and is only there for the paycheque. But creating a company where your team are truly rooting for wins is easier said than done because, let’s face it, most people would rather be on a beach than at work.


Not sure how to motivate your team? Google it!

A prime example of a company that does it right is Google.

Google offer a huge number of perks to their employees including great health benefits, an amazing array of free food in the office, cooking classes, onsite gyms and massage therapists, discounts on events and museums, and loads more. They also have a ‘20% policy’ where they encourage employees to spend 20% of their time working on a side project or learning a new skill. Essentially, they put their people first, and their people are very, very happy with “97% of employees (at Google Inc.) saying it is a great place to work compared to 57% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company.

Google office

Recognising success

It’s human nature to criticise ourselves and others when something goes wrong. We are harsh critics who’s go-to move is to find the culprit when a mistake is made. Giving praise when something goes right, however, doesn’t seem to come nearly as naturally and might need a little more work.

One way to motivate employees is to recognise a job well done. Recognition can take many forms and doesn’t necessarily have to involve a monetary incentive. The Forbes Agency Council offer up some great tips on how to show your employees that you value their hard work and dedication to your company including:

  • Giving out prizes at company-wide celebrations
  • Using your company communication platform to give shoutouts
  • Have a regular peer-nominated award
  • Give praise on social media
  • Make shoutouts a part of your regular meetings


Whatever your strategy, recognising and rewarding team members on the wins is imperative.

Recognising success

Knowing what drives individuals is key

Everyone loves getting a pat on the back and to be told they’re doing an excellent job, but figuring out what drives each of your team members individually is important. Some people are driven by money, others would prefer more holiday days or the ability to be flexible with their working hours. You might have an employee who wants to learn how to code and needs to take an afternoon off every week for a course. Working with your employees to set goals and rewarding them with something that satisfies their individual motivational factors could be the key to an extremely happy workforce. (And we all know that happiness = productivity.)

Factors at work affecting productivity

Image courtesy Kamal Rupareliya (


It’s not just about the wins

Ensuring your staff feel completely taken care of means you need to be there for them in the bad times as well as the good. When employee performance starts to suffer, this could be because an employee has some additional challenges in their personal life that aren’t public knowledge. Offering an open door, support and/or someone they can talk to in confidence and with discretion and empathy could really help to turn things around.

If someone misses a deadline or produces sub-par work, rather than reprimanding them, ask them why. It could be something simple such as they were having a bad day or a rough week, or something more serious but either way, letting your staff know that you want them to succeed and that you and the company is there to help and support them if they need a little help will go a long way. They don’t have to struggle alone.

Offering support

Learning and growth

Another sure-fire way to get your team excited is to offer them the chance to learn and grow in their careers. Let them know there is a ladder to climb and that you want them to climb it, to take on more responsibility, to earn more money. Giving your team the tools to develop professionally will show them that you believe in them, and that you know they are capable of greatness.

Recognition is something that motivates us all, so however you decide to celebrate your team, know that it will go a long way in creating a motivated and dedicated workforce.


  • Give praise when something goes well
  • Ask questions and offer support when something goes wrong
  • Celebrate the wins with the whole company
  • Learn what drives and motivates your employees
  • Show your staff that you value them and want them to succeed

If you incorporate these into your daily routines, your team will become your strongest asset.

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