Positive motivation drives employee productivity. This is as true for maintenance staff as it is for anyone else, but what motivates your team? A combination of a fair wage, achievement, recognition, the possibility for advancement, and continued training will keep your staff striving to be the best, with a noticeable impact on your department’s productivity and efficiency.

Cash: The Reverse Motivator

Take-home pay is, of course, the primary motivator for securing and keeping a job. Cash alone, however, isn’t really a motivator—it’s more of an expectation. You do the job, you get paid.

Raises and higher incomes boost productivity, but not for long—after all, most people adjust to a higher income quickly. Low income, however, is one of the surest ways to demotivate employees. A fair wage establishes a baseline on which you can build motivation—something that’s almost impossible to achieve when employees are paid low incomes.

Remember that compensation comes in many forms. Employees may be motivated by robust benefit and retirement packages, as they see such benefits as an investment in their future, rather than the wage they’re due for doing their job.

Personal and Team Achievements

Achieving goals through individual or group effort is a major motivator for employees. Focus on establishing clear and actionable goals, provide the tools need to achieve those goals, and give employees a sense of ownership of tasks and projects. In most cases, employees will respond with a renewed sense of motivation.

The flip side to this is the unattainable goal, which sets personnel up for failure. Unrealistic goals can send previously high morale into a tailspin, which only makes sense—no-one wants to fail.

Recognition: Achievement’s Peppy Cousin

Achievements only motivate employees so far. To cement achievement-based motivation, recognition is essential. This can be a little tricky in maintenance, a department often ignored by other aspects of a company unless something goes wrong.

Recognition can take many forms, from public acknowledgement of an employee’s efforts to a hand-written note. Even referencing an employee’s work in passing can provide the recognition needed to maintain motivation.

Advancement Possibilities

Not all employees want management positions, but for those who do, the possibility for advancement is a strong motivator. When positions that could be capably filled by existing staff go to outside hires, you run the risk of destroying this motivation, and increase the possibility of losing skilled staff to companies willing to promote hard workers and groom employees for higher positions.


Ongoing training opportunities rank high as employee motivators. Training builds an employee’s skill set, making their work more efficient. More efficient work leads to more achievements, more recognition, and greater possibilities of promotion, so has a positive effect on other motivation areas.

A commitment to training indicates management values its workforce, and is willing to invest in employees. For younger workers, who often evaluate potential jobs in terms of skill acquisition, training is often a hiring incentive and a retention tool.