What immediately springs to mind when considering the key drivers of motivation in the workplace? If you believe it’s about a higher salary, think again.

Businesses should be paying the correct salary based on performance and skills, but studies show that financial incentives don’t always increase performance and are more of a short-lived motivation boost. Instead, businesses should focus on long-term solutions to constantly amplify team morale and empower people to do their best work.

Four key ideas are more powerful than financial incentives when it comes to motivating your team: empowerment, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Only individuals can motivate themselves, but leaders can create a healthy environment that fosters that motivation by creating a culture where all four pillars are present. Ultimately, money isn’t what drives motivation – culture is.

Nurture coaches, not managers

No one wants to go to work when they feel alone or unappreciated. Being surrounded by a supportive and energised team helps to get you out of bed in the morning. When team members experience a lack of drive or assertiveness, it creates a ripple effect throughout the entire workplace.

To effectively empower a team, leaders should foster a culture of support from the top down. This can be done by nurturing coaches, not managers. Rather than simply delegating tasks and focusing on the results, coaches are there to support individuals and ensure everyone works well collectively as a team. A coaching approach that celebrates achievements and milestones can boost morale and reinforce a sense of appreciation and recognition within the team. Examples of this in practice can include verbal praise, awards, or team outings, to acknowledge the contributions of individuals. Further, encouraging regular check-ins, team meetings, and one-on-one discussions also allows for the exchange of ideas, feedback, and concerns, creating a greater sense of belonging and collaboration.


Command and control doesn’t work. Having a manager constantly peering over your shoulder can be frustrating, and can create a lack of trust. Humans desire the right to have a say in their own destinies. Allowing your team to work in the way that suits their needs helps to increase engagement. At Cloud, our team can work flexibly in a way that suits them, whether that’s at the office or from home. Additionally, we understand that everyone has different ways of working and leave it up to each team to decide how best to address their work and challenges.

Granting autonomy in the workplace involves empowering employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work, as well as bringing new ideas to the table. Leaders should clearly communicate the organisation’s vision, values, and expected outcomes, providing the structure for employees to operate autonomously. Establishing clear expectations and direction helps staff feel confident while also building trust and accountability.

Leaders should provide support, feedback, and resources to give team members the confidence and skills needed to make informed decisions. Encouraging a culture where failure is accepted as part of the innovation journey is vital. By promoting autonomy, organisations can encourage a more engaged and empowered workforce, driving creativity, initiative, and ultimately, better business outcomes.


Mastery, the opportunity to get better at new skills, plays an important role in driving motivation. When employees can improve at something, they are more likely to feel motivated to grow and contribute positively to the organisation. As individuals increase their skills, they are likely to experience a deeper sense of fulfilment and satisfaction in their work.

Mastery also creates a culture of ongoing learning and growth within the workplace, as team members are encouraged to elevate their abilities. It’s crucial to emphasise that mastery should go beyond enhancing work performance; it also involves providing employees with opportunities to explore and learn new skills unrelated to their work. This holistic approach not only contributes to professional growth but also energises individuals. Enabling mastery supports a high-performing work environment where individuals are encouraged to reach their full potential.


Purpose in the workplace should underpin everything you do and provides teams with a sense of meaning and direction in their roles. When individuals understand how their work contributes to larger company goals, they are more likely to feel engaged and motivated. Purpose driven organisations also tend to attract and retain top talent, as employees are more likely to choose opportunities where they can make a meaningful difference. Leaders who create a sense of purpose in the workplace promote a positive workplace culture built on shared values and a commitment to making a difference in the company and the world at large.

While financial incentives have their place, they are far from being the sole driving force behind employee engagement and productivity. Instead, creating a culture that grants empowerment, autonomy, mastery, and purpose can lead to more sustainable and meaningful levels of motivation within an organisation.

By embracing these ideas, leaders can create an environment where team members feel supported, trusted, and inspired to continue growing. Empowering employees to take ownership of their work, providing opportunities for skill development and growth, and creating a sense of purpose and meaning in their roles can result in a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Ultimately, motivation at work is not solely about the paycheque; it’s about creating a culture where team members feel valued, challenged, and connected to a greater purpose.

Jeff Dewing
Jeff Dewing
CEO at Cloud

By Jeff Dewing, an international energiser, Top 50 Workplace Leader, the No.1 best-selling business author of Doing the Opposite, and the CEO of Cloud & Mindsett. Their tech has disrupted a £200 billion industry and they’ve been named Queens Award winner for Innovation (2019) and a global leader in IoT-enabled predictive maintenance by Gartner.