Highly motivated employees tend to be more productive, better skilled and more willing to grow and learn when compared to their unengaged counterparts. But one of the hardest things to do when stepping in to a leadership role is figuring out what you can do as a manager to motivate your employees.

A recent study has found that aside from obvious reasons – like more money, benefits or bonuses – employees tend to stick around for other, more intangible reasons.

Motivated and engaged employees tend to have better attendance records, are significantly less likely to quit, and are more likely to foster closer relationships with their co-workers. Motivated employees also tend to be the culture drivers, coming up with more creative solutions to work problems.

A Generational Change

This is definitely a shift from where traditional work culture trends have been. Employee fulfillment, happiness and engagement in the workplace are among the top priorities of Millennials. This is a drastic change from where working professionals’ priorities were just ten to twenty years ago.

The change in culture and priorities does not seem to be a passing fad or trend with more and more companies shifting their focus from investing in benefits and goodies and more towards fostering a company culture built on the happiness of their employees. Below are seven suggestions to motivate your employees:

1. Lead with great communication.
Communication is oftentimes a trait that is overlooked. But, in fact consistent communication is one of the top ways to motivate and inspire your employees. One of the very best things to do is set up weekly or bi-weekly face-to-face meetings with your direct reports. In these one-on-one meetings, you can speak about goals for the week and discuss any roadblocks your employees may have. You can also candidly speak about other things that may be on their minds and have more fluid, honest conversations.

When your employees see that you care, this adds a humanizing aspect to your professional relationship. Do not underestimate the power of a good chat!

2. Treat people with respect.
It seems like treating people with respect is a given, but sometimes we have to remember that our co-workers whom we see every day are real people, with lives outside of work and they deserve the same respect that we ourselves would like to receive every day.

Making it a point to listen and treat each person with respect in the workplace will make everyone feel more at ease. When people feel respected their motivation to do good work and have the inherent satisfaction of feeling a job well done goes up as well. Positive reinforcement will always work better than negative reinforcement.

3. Have your space reflect your culture.
All of us spend a great deal of time at work so it makes sense that one of the best ways to motivate your employees is by making the space that you share as conducive to maximum productivity as possible. Your employees will truly feel a sense of belonging if the space that you all share, work, and create within reflects your culture and embodies your company’s core values.

Also consider some fun areas, like lounge areas, where people can get away in a relaxed atmosphere which will make your them feel more at ease.

According to recent studies, the success of your office is contingent on a concept called place identity, which is best defined as an employees’ feeling that their space aligns with their personal self-image – this, combined with your company’s goals and vision, will create a sense of mutual alignment. A strong sense of place identity creates something intangible that you may not have thought would come from it: improved communication, increased engagement, and higher employee motivation.

4. Give your employees a real purpose.
Some employers underestimate the value of a good mission statement and clear company values. The real driving purpose for any organization is vitally important to the overall morale and driving forces of your employee base. In addition to feeling real purpose for the overall company goals each individual employee must also feel what they themselves are contributing individually is essential to the overall success of the organization. No matter what each individual job is, whether it’s a foreman at a warehouse, or managing a team at the executive level, we all want to know that our jobs matter.

This combination of understanding the importance of both the company’s mission and having an individual purpose will help everyone in your organization keep on the same path to success.

5. Give constant feedback and recognition.
Often all an employee wants is to be simply recognized for a job well done. For example, if an individual has gone out of their way to help a co-worker, has spent a lot of time on a single project or has gone above and beyond in some way – show them that you appreciate their efforts. If high-achievers go on without any praise or recognition it is highly unlikely that they will keep performing in an exemplary way. Reinforcing good traits is critical to having your employees repeat these same behaviours.

Also, recognizing an employee’s longevity at the organization or celebrating major life events outside of work could also prove motivating and show your employees that you truly care. For example, acknowledging birthdays, engagements, marriages and work anniversaries are all perfect times to show a tenured employee that you value them – and you want them to stick around. Celebrate these events with a small gift or gesture and make sure that what you have chosen is as individualized as possible.

6. Foster personal growth and career development.
If you invest in your employees they will have a reason to stick around. Employee development also has the potential to increase sales and output. When your employees improve and grow, the company will as well.

Invest time and energy into the people that you already have employed at your organization. The first step is pinpointing areas of individual talent and expounding on them. Some organizations will offer tuition reimbursement, mentorship, one-on-one coaching or even allow “shadowing” of other teammates or members of the leadership team. All of these will help foster growth, create clear career pathing and make sure everyone stays on track to hit individual and company goals.

7. Allow pets at work.
Pets, such as dogs, are a great way to elevate the moods of people and alleviate stresses of everyday work life. Pets add an element of calm and peace to a sometimes busy and hectic space. Studies have shown that the presence of dogs in the workplace has been proven to reduce stress, bring people together, encourage healthy living and increase productivity.

Motivation Matters

When it comes to motivating employees, goodies and benefits are now only part of the equation. Employees now need more intangible support from their leadership team and higher-ups; they need to feel that they are contributing to a larger organizational shared vision and mission. The result is an increase in job satisfaction and inner motivation. These elements can greatly improve morale, retention rates, productivity and your bottom line.

Profitability at your organization is largely based on employee innovation, collaboration, problem solving, productivity and loyalty. Finding the motivational methods that work best for your employees is essential for ensuring that your company’s most important resources fulfil their greatest talent potential.