Have you ever seen an explosive or drug detection dog, a lively English Springer Spaniel, for example, when they’re working? At maybe an airport, perhaps, on your way home from that much-needed vacation? Tail wagging, clearly excited, the euphoria of expectation; in a single word, driven. Wouldn’t you like to see those employees of yours equally driven in the tasks set before them? We’re not talking about a state of euphoria here, and we’re certainly not talking about getting your employees to wag their tails. What we are talking about is that single word – driven.

Detection dogs work hard for their living because, in doing so, there is the assured expectation of reward (usually, in the form of a tennis ball or other favorite toy). They know they’ll be fed too, and will also receive the praise of their boss (the dog handler). In a dog’s life, motivations are pretty much there for all to see.

Now, let’s get one thing straight. Your employees, being human beings with possible mortgages, possible families, other financial commitments you don’t even know about, and definitely their inbuilt motivations (more on that to follow), are not, and never will be, going to settle for a tennis ball being thrown across the office on completion of those essential monthly finance figures, colorful 3-D graphs or not. That, dear reader, is certain.

As an employer who relies upon their colleagues to keep the business moving forward, it is essential that you understand exactly what their “tennis ball” is. One of the best ways to do this is to ask yourself the very same thing:

  • What is my primary motivation?
  • What rewards am I looking for?
  • What does my tennis ball look like?


Here’s some assistance. In 2016, the Boston College Center for Work & Family published their study, “Employee Well-Being: A Comprehensive Approach”, to highlight the 5 key elements of a person’s well-being, expanded from their sphere of actual work to include all aspects that come into play within their lives, and to establish just what makes an employee a happy and satisfied one.

These elements, rising above location and culture, are as follows:

  • Purpose: The satisfaction derived from your daily activities, and the motivation to achieve your goals.
  • Social: Establishing strong relationships with those people who support and care about you.
  • Financial: Simply having sufficient financial resources for your economic security.
  • Community: The sense of security about where you live, being positive about the local area, and feeling part of the neighborhood itself.
  • Physical: Being in good health.

This article will show you how to take and use that valuable information to enhance your employees’ experiences in the workplace, and how to increase your business outcomes by doing so. Remember, motivated and satisfied employees are vital for the growth of a business, and is key to its performance, even its competitive edge. Let’s begin:

Feedback? Why Not Just Listen

Feedback has been described as important for both employee development and performance improvement. However, in essence, it is simple listening. Far too many businesses fall into the trap of constantly requesting feedback, and not really listening when it’s given. Imagine how frustrating that is to the employee concerned?

Feedback, when the tool is used correctly and effectively, will help your employee understand your particular preferences and will help you identify their strengths and weaknesses in given areas. It’s a 2-way thing. It’s a discussion. Furthermore, by being open to feedback about yourself, you instill trust and loyalty into the business relationship.

Giving Credit Where It’s Due

People crave acknowledgment and appreciation, verbally as well as financially. If an employee acts on an idea which drives business performance, and then receives no credit for it, the opposite effect occurs: unhappiness and dissatisfaction, which, in turn, will result in your employee becoming disengaged from the business, leading to a far lower performance than the one previously demonstrated.

A quote from William James, U.S. psychologist and philosopher:

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Just imagine how you would feel if, through your hard work, effort, and endeavor, you received (possibly unexpected) praise and recognition from your boss. It may even be in the form of a surprise gift: personalized gifts for employees are a great way of demonstrating their efforts have been recognized and deserve a reward, as well as a “thank you”, a “good job” or a “well done”.


One of the dangers to the potential growth of a business in today’s digital technology-driven world is an inability on the part of that business to be agile and flexible in its approach. Many businesses still use the old methodology of hierarchical thinking, which disrupts the free flow of its communications and, thus, its operations. To ensure this is not the case within your business, you need to empower your employees, by showing confidence in their undoubted capabilities.

By the use of empowerment, you will create further trust, and more engagement from your employees in the business, and even in your good self. Furthermore, it creates a more dynamic business environment, which results in a heightened level of fun and satisfaction for all.

Career Path Development and Promoting From Within

Many of today’s disengaged employees cite the issue of a profound lack of professional career development as a primary reason. Yes, time and productivity restrictions can make regular one-to-one discussions difficult to hold; however, all managers need to recognize the benefits of these, both for themselves, and their employees.

By not actively engaging yourself in the career progression of those who work for you, you are, in essence, failing them. It is your duty to ensure your employees are given the fullest opportunity to develop their true potential, through their career path and their need for professional development.

Secondly, you also need to demonstrate that further rewards lay ahead for those that excel. Promoting from within is a clear message to your employees – the talent lies with the company.

Collaboration & Connections

In-house collaborations (between employees whose paths would not normally cross) is a sure-fire way to increase the creativity, drive, and innovativeness within a particular project or idea, and thereby producing the required results quicker and more effectively. Such collaborations benefit all concerned. In fact, the more you can actively encourage these connections within your business structure, the quicker you will build the engaged workforce that will drive your company to its true level of potential.

It’s Not Just About Keeping The Client Happy…

Keeping your employees fully engaged with your business brings many benefits, both personally and professionally. These 5 great ideas to seriously improve employee satisfaction – Feedback? Why Not Just Listen…, Giving Credit Where It’s Due, Empowerment, Career Path Development & Promoting From Within, and Collaborations & Connections – if practiced religiously as an integral part of your company culture, will drive your employees, and drive your business.

How else can you motivate, engage and inspire your workforce? If you have any ideas, experiences, or just comments you’d like to add, please do so below. All are welcome.

Lastly, take that tennis ball out of your back pocket, wind that throwing arm up, and just let it go…