Top 27 Thoughts from HR Influencers on Motivation

When it comes to workplace performance, there’s nothing more powerful than motivation. After all, it is the motivation that turns dreams into reality. There are many different ways to motivate your team. Because of that, our team has listened to over 60h of podcasts to bring you the latest insights and trends in team motivation and engagement. We’ve put together 27 thoughts about motivation. We hope this encourages you to embrace both modern and timeless approaches to put your workplace at the next level.

Motivation thoughts that will transform your approach to team engagement

Let’s kick off this list with one of our favorite employee motivation quotes.

#1. “I built the place I want to work in” – Rich Sheridan

Following this motto, let’s jump on other authors’ and influencers’ takeaways and transform them into practical ideas to bring your workplace to a better place.

Emotional Intelligence as a key to Motivation

#2. “We know high trust delivers engagement, innovation, problem-solving, commitment to change. It’s the foundation from which all the other good things come.” – Veronica Hope Hailey

#3. “Fulfillment comes through service to others. When we make it about ourselves, it never really works. When we make it about others, it really feels amazing.“ – Simon Sinek

#4. “You want to retain your employee base, you want to motivate your team, you can’t not be empathetic.“ – Julia Boorstin

#5. The higher emotional intelligence in employees and their leaders predicts better job satisfaction, higher organizational commitment, lower turnover, more positive on the job feelings, better job performance, more engagement.” – Daniel Goleman

#6. “Oftentimes, organizations do exit interviews. How about having a conversation with an employee about why they’re actually staying? So they can then tell you, these are the things that you as my leader or this organization, these are the things that are going right for me right now, so that you can be sure as a leader to keep doing those things or to not take those things away.” – Alyson Van Hooser

You got this image

Impacts of Environmental factors

#7. “Make sure the work environment is conducive to being successful as a team member. I think the most important thing is that we create an environment that people actually love. The days are gone when people are just happy to come to work for a paycheck. People want to like what they do and where they do it.” – Tiffany Slater

#8. When companies manage internal mobility well, they extend employee tenure by 2x. And we know that people who stay and continue growing and developing are much more engaged.” – Jonathan Reyes

#9. “Even if you’re at a startup and you’re the only HR person that works there, you can still conduct engagement surveys and get a pulse of how people are dealing with your organization, how happy they are.” – Eric Garvey

Wondering what thoughts about motivation would engage millennials? Read also: How to motivate millennials at work

#10. “When somebody says, “How was your day, dear,” nobody says, “My day was okay. I just wish we had pet insurance.” Because what people talk about over dinner is bosses, colleagues, and duties. That’s all they talk about. Do I like my boss or my boss a jerk? Do I like my colleagues or are they jerks? Do I like what I do? Are customers good, bad. They talk about bosses, colleagues, and duties. And if you can’t win in that box, you can’t win with employees.” – Dick Finnegan

#11. “What underlies a great place to work isn’t access to perks, but rather experiences that are psychologically fulfilling.” – Ron Friedman

#12. “The moment you have highly productive, highly engaged employees, you have this interesting combination of having a potential cost advantage that comes from high productivity. The very same ingredient that produces your cost advantage now produces your ability to satisfy even the most demanding customers.“ – Felix Oberholzer-Gee

Better Simpler Strategy book by Felix Oberholzer-Gee

Why Culture and Purpose Must Align

#13. “I’m very straightforward when it comes to what motivates me to work at this particular company or that company – I think it’s two things: It’s the product that the company is building or the mission that the company is striving for and working for to achieve in the world, and that satisfaction that comes when you see people using your product and which changes their lives, improves their lives.” – Andrius Biceika

Listen to the full JobRely podcast episode here: Episode 17 – Get Things Done

#14. “When we were building Warby Parker, we wanted to build an organization that we were excited to come to work every day. We knew they were going to be long, hard days, and we didn’t want to be in a position where we were rolling over and hitting the snooze button. And for us, what was going to be super motivating is just impact.” – Neil Blumenthal

#15. “So culture can’t really be imposed because then it just is not motivational. It actually is de-motivational. (…) Are they actually being able to help us build that culture versus just somebody who is supposed to sign onto the culture, which never really works very well?” – Ina Purvanova

#16. “So I think most of us deal with difficult people at work. It’s definitely in the air these days to have toxicity and not know how to handle it or what to do about it. (…) We don’t learn how to handle everyday low-level conflict. The stuff that makes going to work stressful and hard but often doesn’t rise to the level of getting someone fired or even making you quit your job. And I felt like it could be useful for people to get a little bit of training in this area. And I try to have a little bit of humor around it because I think anything tough is made easier if it’s funny.” – Tessa West

What are the best ways to motivate employees? Have you ever thought about that? Check these 10 steps to motivate employees

#17. “Gen Zers are so fiercely competitive that I think a benefit’s going to be a culture where there’s opportunity to climb. The more you do, the more you perform, the more you can climb. Competitive cultures are going to be where they thrive. Not the case as much with millennials.” – David Stillman

A black woman holding a "I hate monday" sign

The role of Recognition and Engagement

#18. “We saw that monetary bonuses resulted in the sharpest decrease in productivity, while rewarding people’s performance with a compliment increased engagement even on the days when there was no bonus. These results suggest that there is a lot more to work than merely the opportunity to earn money in exchange for labor.” – Dan Ariely

Read also: Benefits of frequent staff praise and recognition


#19. “Typically, HR is very focused on measuring employee engagement, while IT is very focused on providing infrastructure and security. But very seldom do we actually marry those to focus on how IT improves or hinders an employee’s experience.“ – Dennis Kozak

#20. Often competition and social rewards are far more effective than a nominal number increase or decrease. So what can you do here? Make a public leaderboard recognize the efforts at the Slack Channel, introduce monthly and quarterly cadences to celebrate the work being done here.” – Nasser Oudjidane

Integrate Tap My Back with Slack and make sure your team has the right tool to feel recognized and motivated


#21. “The challenge, I think arises when people are doing a lot of appreciating but not a lot of praising of like specific work. And the issue with that is that it gets in the way of people’s professional development, because praise is the thing that helps to accelerate specific behaviors that are going to make that person more successful in their role, or help them get to the next role or whatever else. And that I think is something that we’ve seen a systematic sort of underinvestment. The research is fairly clear that it’s the thing that people are really looking for.” – Kim Scott

#22. “So we thought, “Is there a higher bar that we could aspire to?” and we did an external literature review, we did internal focus groups to really hear from our employees, in terms of what made them bring their best to work every single day. And that’s where we came to the conclusion that thriving was that higher bar that we were after.” – Dawn Klinghoffer

Motivation is a powerful force that can make or break your team engagement efforts. Learn how to combine thoughts about motivation and inspire your team to keep them engaged

"Do something Great" Led photo

Teamwork inspires people

#23. “I think once we give people back control, they start to take control. And I think this is important for what I call prototyping careers. It’s really that we’re in the driver’s seat we’re the fundamental designers of our future work, and how we actually navigate through that, whether that’s to fulfill ourselves, you know, seeking a fulfilling life for ourselves or to impact others. And I think as I said earlier, it changes the nature of the employment contract.” Ann Brewer

#24. “I can’t tell you how excited I would be to work in a company where the leaders are basically saying “you know what, the only reason we are where we are now is because of your guys’ hard work. We’ve actually made some mistakes in how we’ve done things and in the kind of culture we’ve tried to promote. And we acknowledge that and we’re going to try and fix that.” People are going to go away going “that’s awesome. It’s no longer the carrot and stick, being whipped into action and do more and give more of what you’re doing.” – Neil Killick

#25. “Talking about the Jersey doesn’t make them any stronger, or more tactically adept, or more skillful, but it does something else. It taps into an inner motivation, an inner inspiration and an inner drive, which all conversations do about the Why. Little wonder then, that their team players [All Blacks], when they’re asked, often reply that when you play New Zealand at rugby, you play a nation, not a team.” – Ian McClean

#26 – “My biggest motivator is knowing that we can reach as many people as possible through knowledge and actions, which are accessible to entrepreneurs who believe and want to invest in people.” – Dayanna Rodrigues

Dog holding a "Thank you" note

And to finalize we’ve picked a quote from the Profiler Podcast (PT) that illustrates something that we also deeply believe:

#27. “The goal is not the size of our institution, it’s how we change people’s lives” – Joe Santos

Use Thoughts on Motivation to Inspire Your Strategy

In summary, quotes on professional motivation are an excellent way to rethink the way the team collaborates. We hope it can also inspire you to address how you work motivation in your team or organization.

Remember that motivating the team is much more than sharing these quotes. It is also looking for ways to unite the team with tools and techniques to strengthen relationships. The truth is, strength is in numbers; so keep inspiring teamwork. Success will follow.

Looking for new resources on motivating teams? Check out the benefits of employee recognition on motivation.

In 2022 alone, we helped >100 teams improve their engagement and get to the next level.

Read more about how Tap My Back has helped the world’s most engaged teams achieve their goals.