Motivating employees is a vital part of managing a business; after all, your people form the backbone of your organization. And motivated employees are more likely to be productive, creative, committed and capable of producing high-quality work. By putting in place effective motivating tools, you’ll see an improved retention rate and diminished employee turnover — leading to big savings on recruitment and training expenses. But to get there, you need to know what makes your employees tick.

The big question is this: Can each of your workers meet their individual duties effectively? It all revolves around the way you emphasize the importance of deadlines and work quality, as this can have a significant effect on employee stress. You want to find the right balance between emphasizing what needs to get done and injecting a bit fun into the workplace; this will go a long way toward instilling a sense of belonging and making work meaningful through a collective understanding of shared goals.

Here are four ways to emphasize the importance of productivity without adding stress:

1. Be Supportive

It’s tough to attend to your employees’ needs if you place sole importance on what goes into the company’s coffers. If you instead redirect some attention toward workplace satisfaction levels, then monetary gains will likely follow. A supportive employer listens to his employees, considers their needs, and endeavors to fulfill those needs, whether that’s through providing training or installing new technology or something else.

2. Tap Into Your Employees’ Strengths

Motivating employees means acknowledging their strengths and providing them with the opportunity to leverage those strengths. A recent Harvard Business Review report discussed the findings of a Gallup survey, which delved into the opinions of employees who “strongly agreed” that giving employees the opportunity to utilize their strengths at work is a valuable initiative. Of those business units made up of employees who strongly agreed with that notion, 44 percent were more likely to earn high customer satisfaction scores, 50 percent were more likely to have low employee turnover, and 38 percent were more likely to be productive.

People who get to use their strengths regularly at work are most likely to collaborate with colleagues that perform at the same high levels because they feel effective, focused and fulfilled when teaming up with like-minded co-workers.

3. Create a Fun and Positive Work Culture

Valuable lessons can be gleaned from the practices of the famed Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, where fishmongers inject fun and playfulness into their day-to-day business. Thanks to a set of goals that provide direction and meaning (along with performance benchmarks), the road to success at the company is clear for all employees at every level.

In line with Pike Place’s “fish philosophy,” you can create a fun and meaningful workplace environment that’s ingrained along with your company’s values. But this environment doesn’t have to revolve entirely around goals and mission statements. Including regular, fun team-building activities and get-together sessions is another great way to boost morale and foster co-worker interactions, as well as break the monotony of everyday work.

4. Recognize Employee Efforts

Implementing an employee recognition program is another effective tool for motivating your employees. Try exploring the following reward ideas:

  • “Employee of the month” or “best team” awards.
  • Gift cards, vouchers, plaques, movie tickets, etc.
  • Hand-written compliments.
  • A bouquet of flowers or a gift basket.

A successful employer should look beyond the delivery of quality service or products and make their staff’s well-being a top priority across the organization. By motivating employees, you’re strengthening the pillars of your organization, resulting in higher staff retention, higher levels of productivity and creativity, and a better business reputation over time.

Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.