Contrary to the common belief, motivation isn't enough to maintain employee engagement. Try these four long-term strategies instead.

As we know, the team plays a huge role in the success of any organization. We all want to work with highly motivated people. Still, leaders struggle to keep their teams engaged in day-to-day operations, new projects, and company-wide goals.

Contrary to the common belief, motivation doesn’t really work. It simply never lasts long enough. Every time I listen to a motivational speaker or sign up for a new workout routine that promises wonderful results, I get really excited and ready to take on the world, but it never lasts longer than a few days. Why does this happen? It’s simple: If we’re not able to see the bigger picture — if we can’t find the deeper, more powerful meaning as to why we do what we do — we easily slide back into the path of least resistance.

As a leader, you’re meant to help your employees. You are the one to make a difference in their work experience, and motivation alone is not enough. Great leaders are intentional about supporting their teams, making them feel appreciated, and keeping them engaged. Start with these four strategies to inspire your employees to give their best.

1. Acknowledge and regularly communicate each person’s unique contribution to the team and the company.

Acknowledgement helps people realize their work is meaningful and important. It will make your employees feel great to know that what they do matters to the organization. As a part of human nature, emotions play a key role in how we make decisions and show up to work.  The feeling of belonging is as important as the rest of the benefits a career might offer. Understand your employees’ needs, and treat them with dignity and respect. Make them feel that they truly belong. When they feel heard, understood, and appreciated, they will start to bring more of their whole selves to work.

Great leaders have empathy and know that, at the end of the day, we are all in this together. We all have families we like to spend time with. We all need rest and free time to enjoy our hobbies and unwind. If your employees feel their needs aren’t important to you, they will try to find ways to cut corners and reduce their engagement. People say, “It takes a village.” If taken care of, your village can take over the world.

2. Articulate and enact purpose.

While profits are important, the most talented people want to feel that their work contributes to something bigger than the bottom line. It is up to the leaders to establish the purpose and to effectively communicate it to everyone in the company. Having a compelling and bigger reason to put in the work brings the team together. It collectively orients people toward something that is beyond the ego, enhances unity, and inspires the team.

Help your employees see the impact their work has on a bigger scale. How is their personal contribution making a difference? Meaning comes when we realize how our work influences others and the world. This could serve as a reminder of why we do our jobs and keeps us motivated to continue.

3. Cultivate and communicate trust.

Most leaders are fearful that their employees won’t accomplish their tasks without constant oversight. But too much control and micromanagement results in disengagement and distrust. It feeds bad practices and actually makes employees think of ways to oppose or sabotage the perceived constraints.

Part of building trust and cultivating high performance is giving your employees more freedom to organize their projects and work based on their own best judgment. Let them know you count on them to do that and you’re always there for support and questions. When employees feel enabled and given flexibility, they deepen their engagement and strive not to let their colleagues and teams down. They feel empowered and more responsible to produce better results. Take Google or Whole Foods, for example. Both companies encourage their teams to self-manage, which is a big part of their success.

4. Connect the values and objectives of the company with those of the employees.

The best leaders know each team member’s goals and aspirations. They then look for ways to align their team’s personal values with those of the organization. Communicate the vision clearly, and talk about each of your employee’s future with the company. That will make them feel encouraged to develop a powerful personal connection to their work. Having a shared vision is what moves companies further. If it is compelling and propels a positive impact in the world, you’ve got yourself a winning combo.

Last words

How you empower your team will determine how much success your organization will achieve. Creating a culture of energized, focused, and high-performing individuals is not easy, but it’s definitely worth the investment. It is up to the leaders to meet their employees’ needs, empower them to build on their strengths, and facilitate collaboration. Creating purpose-driven environments and making work more meaningful is a powerful and effective way to retain and inspire your employees to do their best work and stay ahead of competition.

Vanya Lazarova

Vanya is a Professional Coach, certified by the Institute For Professional Excellence In Coaching (IPEC). She specialized in working with Leaders, Founders and Entrepreneurs, helping them achieve sustainable growth, improving their performance and leadership capabilities.Prior to her coach certification, she graduated Sofia University where she completed her B.S. in History of Philosophy and Psychology studies. Currently based in NYC she brings value to her clients through coaching, workshops and the training programs for founders she creates. Additionally, she serves as a Head coach to a Japanese based coaching organization (Earch-you), where she supports clients worldwide. She has been previously featured at Addicted2Success, Medium, Thrive Global, Conscious Magazine and other publications. Find out more about her at or reach out on social media @_liveauthentic_