Do you know (or care) if your employees are motivated and happy in their current positions? If not, you should. In fact, you should care a lot. Why? Well, unmotivated employees spend their days harvesting virtual crops on Farmville while motivated employees go the extra mile to ensure not only their own success, but the company’s as a whole. Enough said?

If motivation is a problem in your office, you may want to look at the culture of your workplace for the solution. After all, says Arte Nathan via Smart Blog, “Motivated employees will do everything to make what they’re doing great; they’ll be role models for other employees, and they’ll be the best advertising for a company’s brand and products. The key is getting employees to love where they work.”

If you’re ready to revise your workplace’s culture, we’ve got some great tips for motivating employees below!

If You Love Something, Set it Free

Okay, not entirely free. But if you give your employees the freedom of a flexible work schedule, it can make for a happier, more productive staff. Scott Curry, owner of Scott’s Marketplace, offers both a flexible schedule and the option to work from home two Wednesdays a month.

He explains: “The reason I offer a flexible work schedule is so we’re not beholden to a typical 8-5 environment. Some people are more productive early in the morning, while it takes others until a bit later in the day for them to be at their most efficient. A flexible work schedule allows individuals to find the point in the day where they do their best work, which ultimately benefits all of us, not just the employees. I also offer work-from-home Wednesdays. I do this because we all have those things that come up in life, whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, home repair, or errand, and it can be so frustrating when you’re tied to a weekday schedule that doesn’t allow for you to get it done. Hopefully our flexible schedule and work-from-home Wednesdays allow for a better work/life balance and employees who are more motivated.”

Don’t Hate, Appreciate

Would you be motivated if all you ever heard was criticism about your work? Now what about if your work was ignored by your boss altogether? No way in hell, right? Just as this sounds awful to you, this sounds (or possibly already is) just as awful to your employees. Don’t believe me? Check out these eye-opening stats from a recent infographic by Sales Force:

  • 78% of employees cited recognition as the main motivating factor in their career
  • 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were better recognized
  • 52% of employees are not satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive
  • 49% of employees say they would leave their current job for a company that clearly recognized their employees for their efforts
  • 39% of workers do not feel appreciated at work

So what can you do about it? Start by thanking your employees individually for their hard work. Point out specific things they’ve done well so they know you’re being genuine. Whether it’s a quick email, an in-person meeting, or a comment said in passing, giving praise on a regular basis will show your staff you truly care and notice how hard they’ve been working lately. You can also reward your staff with comp days, freebies, and other incentives, but remember – the power of a simple ‘thank you’ should never be forgotten, no matter what else you decide to do to motivate your team.

Sharing is Caring

Want to reward your employees for a job well done and make them feel like they’re an integral part of your team? Think about letting them share in your company’s success through stock options or equity. Doing this can help to retain employees and boost their long-term commitment — as well as loyalty — to your company.

An article on echoes this statement: “Ever think about giving your company to your employees? It’s called an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) and may be an attractive way to motivate them, since the structure allows direct profits from the company’s success. Foss Miller, founder of Sawbones Worldwide, did it for Christmas in 2010. ‘So many of the employees have worked here for many, many years,’ Foss said. ‘Providing them a great retirement when they leave… it just made more sense and felt better and better.’”

Dare to Be Different

Getting creative when it comes to your workplace’s culture can help boost job satisfaction levels. Think of it this way: If an employee has fun and (gasp!) even feels happy while at work, the chances of them enjoying being there are much greater. This can lead to less clock watching and more productivity. Whether it’s something silly like a wear-your-pajamas-to-work day and open workspaces that encourage interaction to stocking your office with complimentary snacks, getting creative creates a positive and fun work environment.

Scott Curry says he believes the workplace culture is a critical element to his team’s overall satisfaction and happiness with their jobs. He says: “That’s why I’ve taken my team out of the office environment to do fun activities unrelated to work. We’ve gone bowling, went to a baseball game, played Monopoly, had Nerf gun battles in the office… I think things like this break the monotony of being constantly tied to a desk. It’s also a great way to work on teambuilding in a fun way. Each month, we also have an offsite team meeting and afterward I take everyone to lunch at a place we’ve never tried before. It’s things like that that allow us turn it off for a while so we avoid work burnout and can grow closer as a team.”

We want to know: What’s your best tip for motivating employees?