For a long time, the primary tool for motivating staff fell into two categories: the stick and the carrot.

But recent studies and managerial theories suggest that human motivation is mostly intrinsic, which means there’s more to getting the most out of your employees than money and punishment.

This survey sampled 200,000 employees across a variety of organizational levels, and interestingly, cash bonuses aren’t at the top of the list.

Instead, company culture, peers and recognition are leading the way for employee motivation.

1. Promote Team Building and a Collaborative Culture

The survey showed that the key factor driving employee satisfaction was peer motivation and camaraderie. Roughly 20% of respondents stated that having friends in the workplace was the number one reason they went the extra mile – not money.

When selecting employees, it’s important to hire high performers who also exhibit a high cultural fit. If one factor is missing, it could increase low productivity or spread a negative and toxic mindset amongst staff.

2. Be a Supportive and Approachable Leader

But hiring the right people is only the first step in cultivating a great company culture.

Although hierarchies are important in the workplace, it’s important to ensure managerial staff are approachable and supportive. At the end of the day, people are more likely to stay loyal and motivated when they feel respected and supported by good leaders.

3. Reward Achievements With Meaningful Gifts

There is still a place for extrinsic rewards in the workplace, although cash isn’t it.

Instead, a highly considered gift, such as a luxe every day watch, can be an excellent motivator for high performers. As an added bonus, it’ll be a daily reminder of how appreciated they are for everything they do.

Or think outside the box with a gift card to an upmarket local restaurant that they may otherwise never visit. Nothing says ‘you’re appreciated’ like being pampered.

4. Acknowledge and Encourage Great Work

It may seem simple, but a good old-fashioned pat on the back is sometimes all it takes to motivate an employee.

Falling under ‘Esteem’ in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, providing feedback and verbal recognition on a job done well contributes to an individual’s sense of value – both within themselves and their role in the workplace.

The study showed that almost 80% of employees felt undervalued. Recognition and appreciation are key drivers in motivation – particularly amongst the new generation of millennial workers – which means it’s only going to become more important to encourage great work.

5. Invest in Employee Development

Companies who invest in upskilling their employees actually benefit on two fronts: highly skilled workers who add value to the company, and happier individuals who are motivated to stay and contribute.

By providing employees with the opportunity to upskill, there’s a flow on effect to other factors that contribute to engaged employees. Not only will they grow their careers, but they’ll feel appreciated and rewarded in the process.

This post was written by Jess-Kumanovski.