Merge's Blog

Category Archives: Motivation Tools

One year of video tips on employee motivation … coming up in 2018

I am thrilled to announce that we have big plans for 2018 – a whole year of video tips specifically focusing on employee motivation!!

This past year, upon urging from many of you, I made the decision to post more video blogs.  You all told me that you appreciated hearing quick, specific, and actionable tips that you could implement immediately.  So back in February, as an experiment, I started with a short video series on making the switch from a non-supervisory to a management role – seven individual discrete tips to help you seamlessly move into the new role of a supervisor.  The response was so positive that I was persuaded to try again.  So in April, I started another eight tip video series – this time on leading virtual teams.  In it, I offered up, again, specific practical ideas, on how to make long-distance leadership work.  When that turned out to be a success, I went all in, launching a 15-part video series in June on leading organizational change.  Well, you’ve continued to tell me that you like these – that they’re quick and easy to internalize and implement, and that you’d like some more.

2018 … one whole year of video tips on how to motivate employees

So I can’t stop now, and I’ve got big plans for next year.  2018 is going to be the year to focus on and highlight ideas on employee motivation.  Actually, more specifically, zero and low-cost ways to inspire, encourage and excite your people – to greater positivity and productivity, to higher performance and greater commitment. Continue reading

What creates healthy employees? The Globe’s Employee Recommended Workplace Awards offers insights

ERWAJust over one year ago, I told all of you about this very cool project that was sponsored by my colleagues at The Globe & Mail – a Canada-wide survey that is investigating what companies are doing to foster a working environment that creates engaged AND healthy employees.  The definition of “healthy” doesn’t just mean physical health, but also mental, work and life health.  This year-long project culminated with nine companies receiving the inaugural annual Employee Recommended Workplace Awards last month in Toronto.    Winners were announced in three categories (private, public, and not-for-profit/government) in the small, mid-sized and large groupings, and you can see them here (scroll down to find the list).

What creates healthy employees?

A follow-up story in The Globe on engaged and healthy employees titled The winning formulas for workplace wellness offered an opportunity for each of these companies to list the single factor that they believe caused their employees to rank them so highly.  You can read the entire article at the link I’ve given you, but I’ve listed the nine factors for you below: Continue reading

Long-distance leadership strategy #7: don’t forget to praise!

Six weeks ago, I started a video series on specific strategies to lead virtual teams.  Long-distance leadership can be a challenge; because of physical distance, it takes more effort for a leader to build and maintain high performance in employees. Given the positive response I’ve received, I’m going to keep this series going for a while.  Last week’s tip was to set standards for response times for emails and voice mail.  Today’s strategy to improve your long-distance leadership is: don’t forget to praise your staff regularly.

Don’t forget to praise

Now sure, this strategy – praising employees – is no different than what you would do for your employees who are based in the office, but it’s even more important for your virtual staff.  Why?  Because when it comes to offering praise and feedback, off-site employees are usually the forgotten ones.  Continue reading

Creating happier workplaces – what the data definitively tells us

bigstock-147197099I was reminded last week of the importance of creating positive happier workplaces with the release of the 2017 World Happiness report, published to coincide with the United Nation’s International Day of Happiness.  Given that most people spend a large percentage of their lives working, it’s not surprising that there is an entire chapter in this report devoted to the relationship between work and happiness.  The complete report is 178 pages long and can be found at the link above, but in today’s post I thought I’d share some of the highlights about happier workplaces from the “Happiness at Work” chapter.

The data that this report is based on comes from reliable sources and large sample sizes; the authors draw largely upon the Gallup World Poll, which has been surveying people in over 150 countries around the world since 2006.  The fundamental question being asked is what and how do people’s working lives drive their well-being, or what does it take to create happier workplaces.  Continue reading

Money as a motivator (P.S. It’s not!)

Exciting news – my first column for 2017 in The Globe & Mail‘s Leadership Lab series just got published this morning!!  It’s about money as a motivator, which continues to be a subject of some controversy.  And in case you’re wondering about my point of view, it’s unequivocally that it’s not!   In Why money is not an employee motivator, I make the case for why, and perhaps more importantly and practically, I tell you what it means to you, a leader, so that you can inspire your people towards excellence in the workplace.


Now, my hope, as always, is that this will give you food for thought and spark a dialogue amongst leaders everywhere, ideally in agreement with my point of view.  But even if you don’t agree with me, I’d like to hear what you think and what your experiences are.  If you can, please share your perspectives directly on the The Globe‘s site since your opinion will get a much wider audience there.  But I’m always open to hearing from you directly as well, so you can drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks) with your thoughts too.

Please help get the word out!

And one last thing — do me a HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe’s site using the share icon at the very top of the article).  My objective is always to get conversations started, so the more people who respond to this column means deeper and extended dialogue, which is always a good thing!  In advance, please accept my thanks for your help.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere:

The piss-off factor: yet another short-sighted stupid action by a well-meaning manager

The Piss-Off Factor (or POF)piss-off factor is something that short-sighted managers do to destroy employee morale, and they come up repeatedly on the blog, usually because they happen more often than they should!  Well, I was just made aware the other day of yet another piss-off event; this time about parking!

Seriously?!  This is what is known as a piss-off factor

This company’s offices, even though in a large city, are not in the downtown core.  This particular employee was required to go downtown for a work-related task, so he drove his vehicle there, parked, and later claimed the cost of parking on his expense statement.  Sounds reasonable, right?  Apparently not.  His expense claim was denied.  Reason: the company policy states that employees can claim lodging, meals and incidental costs, including parking for a vehicle, ONLY when they travel out of town.  Because he was parking his vehicle in the same city, the expense claim was denied!  If you think this doesn’t make sense, there’s more.  Continue reading

Deliberately make yourself available to your staff

make yourself availableI’ve blogged previously about the importance of being present in your conversations with your employees, but today I want to come at this same subject from a more macro-perspective.  Today’s message: be seen, show your face, in other words, make yourself available to your employees.

In an earlier blog post about being present, I was talking about giving employees your full attention when you’re talking to them one-on-one (rather than trying to multitask).  But “being seen” is about being a visible presence in their working day; it’s about making yourself available to your staff.  Showing your face is NOT about ensuring that your team members see you at the coffee station so that they know you came to work; it’s about giving them access you as a resource when they need it.  Don’t be the type of leader who holes up in your office with the door closed, or the butterfly that flits rapidly from meeting to meeting with only a passing shadow to show that you were there.  Employees need open access to their leaders, even if it’s brief.

Keep “office hours”

The best way to accomplish this goal is to have “office hours” – time that you deliberately schedule and set aside so that you make yourself available to your employees to answer questions, discuss issues, and provide guidance.  Continue reading

16 ways to motivate your people without spending money

Money isn’t a motivator.  There, I said it!  But don’t just take my word for it.  In my latest column for – 16 Ways to Motivate Your People Without Spending Money – I not only give you the research that backs up this statement, but I also offer sixteen zero- or low-cost ideas to reward your employees on a shoestring budget.

You need to pay people fairly but …

Sure, you need to pay your people, and pay them fairly—you’re not going to accomplish much if your staff feel like their compensation doesn’t reflect the fair market value of their work. But while lack of money can be a de-motivator, cash alone won’t make employees do their best.


So what low-cost motivation ideas do you have to add?  What are some of the things you do to inspire, encourage, and motivate your people to high performance?  Would love to hear what works for you.  Please share by commenting below.

P.S. I am now in my second year as a regular contributor to’s panel of business experts. You can find links to my previous columns on their site. For your information, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, and their list of columnists reads like the Who’s Who of Canadian business, so I am honoured to be in such distinguished company.

Should workplace social celebrations be compulsory?

PeopleAtRestaurantLast week, I advocated the need for a regular schedule for fun social celebrations in the workplace, and I offered up an approach that I have used very successfully over the years in my leadership roles where I had staff directly reporting to me.  That blog post prompted a question from one reader – should attendance at these social celebration events be compulsory?  The short answer is “no”; however it comes with a “but”.  Let me explain.

Attendance at social events should never be compulsory, always voluntary.  There are great employees who choose not to socialize at work, and that’s okay, and there should be no judgment applied if that is their choice.  But … if the social event is being held during working hours (either wholly or partially), then the employee has the choice of attending the event OR working.  That’s it, only two options – they can either join in on the social event, or stay at their desks and continue working.  Continue reading

Motivate employees with regular fun social celebrations

Young people playing table tennis in workplace, having fun.As frequent readers of this blog know, I am a huge advocate for leaders consciously and deliberately making it a point to celebrate accomplishments in the workplace.  My reason, celebration of achievements is so fundamental to both employee morale as well as future success.  Unfortunately though, the reality of today’s workplace is that we are busy – getting things done, fighting crises – that we move on to the next thing that is pressing, without stopping to take the time to celebrate what we did well.  To our detriment.

One approach for the consistent celebration of accomplishments that I recommend to the leaders in the client organizations I work with is to establish a regular schedule for fun social events.  The easiest way (that I have used myself): establish a rotating quarterly committee of fun, a group of department employees who are responsible for planning a fun social event for the quarter.  Three thoughts about making this work.  Continue reading