Sure, people like fancy cars and designer shoes, but a paycheck isn't enough to keep today's employees happy and fulfilled. In fact, most workers say that positive feedback from a manager or other leader is what gets them going.

'Many entrepreneurs believe that digging into their pocketbooks will help drive employee engagement, but the reality is that 67% of workers say praise and commendation from a manager is truly what motivates,' wrote Clarity CEO Dan Martell in his company blog.

The ability to encourage and empower employees is one of the most important traits of a strong business leader. It's rare, however, for employees to feel that their company is motivating them to succeed.

How can business leaders inspire their employees to work hard and feel good?

1. Prioritize Personal Growth

Your business is growing, but are your people? If you've worked to assemble an awesome team, they're probably hungry for new challenges and growth opportunities. Are you enabling them to push their limits and expand their spheres of influence? Sometimes, money isn't enough.

'Instead, consider making quality time with each employee a priority, pick up a personal tangible gift, offer a high five or fist bump, tell them they're doing a great job, or pitch in on a task,' Martell said.

Beyond compliments, provide employees a tangible picture of what they've done well. Align contributions to business results. For instance, instead of saying 'this rocked,' say 'this rocked because it resulted in x, y, and z.'

2. Instill an Atmosphere of Trust

You hired your employees because you saw something great in them. You knew they could do their job, so you need to trust that they'll do their best. It's your responsibility to oversee the business, but don't doubt decisions made by your team. If your employees feel ownership over what they do, they'll be more inspired to work hard.

An atmosphere of trust will make your team much happier. If you're constantly in their space and micromanaging, you'll hold your employees back from big wins.

3. Embrace Risk and Failure

Healthy businesses innovate by taking calculated risks. Otherwise, they stagnate and fall flat. Even still, risks are terrifying.

People rely on their jobs for their livelihoods. They have mouths to feed at home, and they're completely dependent on their employers for healthcare benefits and the ability to pay their mortgages. Your employees may be afraid to take risks because they need to keep their jobs. They may feel they have too much to lose by trying something new.

Build trust with employees by embracing failure. Talented people should feel empowered to jump in and try new approaches. Sometimes they'll be successful, and sometimes they won't. Regardless of outcome, your company should be a strong source of support.

You Chime In

As a leader, what inspires your employees? As an employee, what do you need in a work environment to make you feel happy and motivated?