Employee motivation and productivity are crucial to the success of any company. When thinking about how to improve it, an important first step is understanding what really motivates your employees. Here are four factors.

 

Meaningful Work

Creating meaning for employees could include allowing them to create something that didn’t previously exist, forge bonds with other employees, or solve a big challenge, writes Pau Sabria for Fortune.

 

Managers and leaders should get to know their workforces in order to personalize opportunities to find meaning. “Allowing (certain employees) to participate in an extracurricular project internally might mean more than an automatic title jump after two years of service,” Sabria writes. “These considerations will be different by industry, by organization, and by individual. But leaders of the future are already developing cultural changes to match the personalization needed to push today’s workforce to greatness.”

 

Money

It’s true that employees need to be intrinsically motivated. But wages are important, too. A recent Employee Benefit Research Institute survey found “one in five people with employer-based coverage said they would opt for fewer health benefits if they could get a bump in their wages,” writes Michelle Andrews for Ere Media TLNT. “That’s double the percentage who said they would make that choice in 2012.”

 

This trend could be driven by wages that are growing more slowly than the cost increases in health plans, she writes. “The growing willingness to trade health benefits for wages may be linked to some degree to the Millennial generation’s growing share of the workforce,” Andrews writes. “But as today’s young invincibles age, chances are they’ll see more value in their health insurance and the pendulum will swing back again.”

 

Recognition

Employees want to be recognized for their good work. “In the 2015 Globoforce survey, 90 percent of the 823 HR professionals participating said an employee recognition program could positively impact engagement,” writes Andre Lavoie for Entrepreneur.

 

Creative employers go beyond plaques and Employee of the Month awards to find new ways to showcase the best employee work. “Use social media and publicly celebrate wins and employee work anniversaries,” Lavoie writes. “Host games like office Olympics or ping pong tournaments as a reward for hitting sales goals. … Make your employees excited for their next pat on the back.”

 

Respect for new ideas

Inviting employee feedback—then listening to it—can go a long way in motivating employees, Lavoie writes. “Feedback programs can include simple open-door policies, where employers invite anybody into their office to offer suggestions, or a team of feedback coaches helps employees formulate actionable advice and guide management in finding solutions,” he writes. “No matter which program is selected, follow-ups are essential, especially when a suggestion is denied. Make it a point to explain why certain advice will not be effective. This proactive management technique demonstrates respect for every employee and everyone’s ideas.”