To help you identify the things that get employees excited — besides a raise — we asked both workers and HR managers for their thoughts. And they are:

Career Advancement and Upward Mobility

Many employees these days want to ensure they have a path for career advancement and upward mobility. It excites employees to know what their path looks like and encourages them to work hard if they know there is a next step that they are working toward. Having a conversation and outlining a clear path can help employees stay the course instead of looking elsewhere for employment.

Alison Stine
Founder, Stine Wealth Management

Opportunities for Personal Projects

Over my summer holiday, I read the Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. It’s not about being a perfect manager, but about how a company can coach their employees to fulfill their dreams. So we set up our own program, and the employees love it. They’re working on their dreams ranging from “see fireflies” to “new printing machine for my sticker side-hustle” – and it’s already more rewarding than getting more money.

Bibi Lauri Raven
Founder, BibiBuzz

Management Using and Rewarding Employees’ Ideas

Management at many companies tells employees they welcome their opinions, ideas, suggestions and questions. Unfortunately, it’s often just lip service. 

One example: When I worked at a company that placed a suggestion box in the employee lounge, an HR staffer confided that management directed her to take the box to her office when it was full, dump all suggestions in the trash and return it to the lounge. Since I’ve encountered high morale and low turnover when I’ve worked for managers who go beyond lip service, I’m grateful I have a supportive manager as an insurance copywriter for our company. 

It’s my nature to suggest improvements when I see inefficiencies. So when I was promoted to team lead over a group of writers who created guest posts, I was thrilled that my proposals were welcomed, implemented, and recognized for everything from a way to create more content for our freelance writers to how to streamline our tracking process to reduce duplication and errors.

Karen Condor,
Insurance Copywriter,

Advancement Opportunities

I run my own business. And before that, I ran Intelligent Games. At my previous company, we would do things like buy pizza for employees who were working late. What I learned, really, was that having a culture where people work late, then buying pizza for them, is like putting a patch fix on a deeper issue. Pizza isn’t exciting. Having a work-life balance is. So is good pay, good benefits and opportunities for career progression. People want to demonstrate leadership, develop skills and be creative. They want recognition for their work. In short, I’ve learned that employees get excited when they are given the chance to grow. We call this “human flourishing” or, in Greek, “eudaimonia.” That’s what motivates me as an owner-manager, and it’s what motivates my team.

Matthew Stibbe
Articulate Marketing

Receiving an Unexpected Thank You Note

The moment of seeing an unexpected thank you note on my desk gets me excited as an employee. Knowing that my work is appreciated by the company I work for makes me feel good. I enjoy working and being able to contribute to the company in a positive way. Getting a thank you note from my boss or from the team shows me that my efforts are recognized and appreciated. It also makes me feel like I am part of a team and that I am valued as an employee. Getting a thank you note is one small thing that can make a big difference in how I feel about my job.

Lorien Strydom
Executive Country Manager,

Brainstorming and Ideation Sessions

I have worked in management for over five years and have my own company. The most responsive and excitable employees get are during a brainstorming session with teams that span further than their usual colleagues. Brainstorming and ideation sessions are fun and creative. It allows for employees to take a break from their routine thinking and process flow, and utilize their experience to better future projects or current work process flow. I would encourage this because I have seen how the marketing and finance teams have different ways of breaking things down than the marketing and technology development teams. The excitement in employees is often furthered with snacks and playful presentation of ideas. In our company, we enjoy hosting it as if it is a panel of judges. It encourages healthy competition and an environment for people to laugh at themselves.

Daniel Forstner
Mailbox Empire

Collaborative Problem Solving

Being a part of a collaborative team can be one of the most exciting — and rewarding — things as an employee. If work offers space for everyone to contribute and refine ideas together, it helps teammates feel more personally connected to the goals and the outcomes for the business. The most exciting part of the process? That collaborative problem solving most often leads to better solutions.

Monica Thysell
Director of Product Marketing,

Vacation Days and Time-Offs

The one thing that gets me excited as an employee is more vacation days. I love acquiring more vacation and personal days annually and that gets me planning activities for the family. Vacation and time-off are what make me believe my company respects me. I’ve earned it, and more days mean they recognize that. Everyone needs time off from the stress and vacation and time off help me put things in perspective.

Amruth Laxman
Founding Partner,

Working Towards the Same Goals and Achieving Results

One of the things that has always motivated me as an employee is setting goals with my team and watching as results take shape. You might not feel like you are making progress when you are in the thick of things on a day-to-day basis, but when you sit back and reflect on the past month’s work, you might just be amazed by what you have achieved. It is important for everyone you are working with to share the same vision so you can work together to reach the targets you set for yourselves.

Johan Hajji
CEO & Founder,

Good Relationship With Colleagues

In work life most of us spend half our time in the office with colleagues, so as important as it is to maintain a good relationship and a bond with the family, it is also important to build a good relationship with an employee. Employees who have a good relationship with each other are more likely to be happy on the job than those who don’t get along with their peers. To form an authentic bond with your colleagues, don’t be this arrogant business person all the time. Take some chill time. Having a teammate who motivates you to understand your ups and downs maintains a very positive relationship with each other and is more likely to help you perform exceptionally.

Scott Krager
Owner, WODReview

As an employee, I’m excited to work for companies that are growing quickly and sustainably because they will have more opportunities for career growth. Companies growing slowly — or not at all — won’t provide much opportunity to take the next step. Companies that can’t sustain their growth lack employment stability. It’s exciting to find a company that can grow with you.

Joe Kevens
Founder and Director of Demand Gen,
B2B SaaS Reviews (and PartnerStack)

Work Schedule Flexibility

Besides a raise, flexibility in my work schedule gets me excited as an employee. Flexibility creates a better work-life balance, ultimately resulting in happier workers. Things happen – cars break down, kids get sick, events pop up — creating stress to our everyday lives. When an employer allows flexibility it reduces that stress. Allowing employees to either work from home or non-traditional hours helps take the pressure off putting life into the (in my opinion) outdated 8 – 5 work schedule. Flexibility allows people to work when they are most productive. It allows people to not miss out on their niece’s after school play. It adds life back into each day.

Erin Sullivan
Digital & Inbound Marketing Manager,
University of Advancing Technology