How to Cultivate Employee Motivation

As a relatively recent addition to the Cardinal Nest, I’ve experienced a whirlwind of activity in acclimating to my exciting new habitat. Green to agency life, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was refreshed and exhilarated to find that The Nest is anything but ordinary – foosball games are a common sight, snacks are available for all and widely celebrated (beef jerky is hoarded here like cigarettes in the slammer), and we’re encouraged to find creative solutions to any obstacles we encounter.

What Are We Doing Here?

While life in The Nest is certainly enjoyable, we’ve got our ups and downs like any rapidly-growing agency. Sometimes that involves a few late nights at work, or job stress as your workload continues building, or moments of confusion amidst the chaos. Which led to me to consider – why do we do what we do here at Cardinal? What is it that keeps us going, both corporately and individually?

Corporately, this group of hardworking professionals come together every day to be part of a different type of marketing company. We all come from divergent backgrounds, combining our knowledge and skills to help our clients gain more than just Page Rank. We care about helping companies build their brand, their user experience, and therefore their backlinks.

Individually, I can only speak for myself, of course. But the reason I keep showing up is that I haven’t won the Lotto yet. I jest, I jest! It’s actually because I believe this company is providing an important and innovative service in the marketplace, and I know I can help. My driving force has always been more than a paycheck. At the end of the day, my motivation as an employee is two-fold:

1.  I want to feel like a valued member of the team.

2.  I want to contribute to something that is worth my time and effort, and something that makes a difference.

The Employee Motivation Checklist

In pondering this topic of motivation, I came across a great article that identifies some vital ways to motivate your employees. Here’s my overview:

1.  Give Them Work That’s Worthwhile: a 2009 CBS MoneyWatch survey asked the question, “What motivates you at work?” The results showed that 29 percent of people responded that doing meaningful work was their biggest motivator. Money came in second place, at 25 percent.

2.  Communicate! Make sure your organization sets goals, and shares how they are progressing toward them. Keep your employees informed.

3.  “What Would You Say You Do Here?” Make sure you and your employees clearly understand their roles, which are best communicated in the form of detailed job descriptions. These should also include expected results and accountability.

4.  Tell Them How They’re Doing: Regular, constructive performance feedback is vital in any job. It also goes both ways. Make sure that you receive input from your employees as well.

5.  Believe in Them and Show it: we humans have a very basic need to feel valued. It can’t be put any more straightforwardly than Lavinsky asserts, “If you don’t believe your employees can do something, they won’t believe they can either, and they won’t do it.”

6.  Encourage Your Employees’ Growth: giving them the chance to increase their skills will lead to more pride in their jobs, so encourage employee development.

7.  Listen to and Respect Employee Needs: Lavinsky points out listening is more valuable than speaking in effective leadership.

To read the full article by Dave Lavinsky, visit

More than Money

The biggest point we can take away from this discussion is that across the board, employees need motivation outside of a paycheck in order to continue producing quality work. Outside of individual work ethic and gumption, there are many ways that an organization can cultivate motivation in their employees – from regular constructive feedback, to encouraging the development of new skills, to effectively communicating goals and expectations.

Here at Cardinal Digital Marketing, I value the fact that I’m in an environment that encourages creative solutions, foosball breaks, and the occasional jerky stick while navigating my way through life at The Nest!

“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Zig Ziglar

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