3 Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team in Turbulent Times

Wondering how to motivate your team in a post-pandemic world? It’s all about Connection, Cause & Celebration.


When I climbed Everest, I remember looking up from Base Camp and seeing two tiny specks – climbers amidst a maze of constantly shifting ice blocks, some as big as a high-rise building. I had never felt so small and insignificant in my life. As I began my ascent, I had a teammate far ahead of me and a teammate further back. For the most part, we couldn’t hear one another due to the distance and howling wind yet we still felt strongly connected. We had a clear purpose, a shared understanding and a deep appreciation of one another’s role. 

As humans we have an innate need to feel connected, valued and understood. For many, the pandemic has turned that need into a non-negotiable in the workplace. Two years of relative hibernation have taken their toll with many people feeling more tortoise than tiger. Good leaders want to improve staff wellbeing, engagement and resilience so they can create a productive and positive work environment. But how do you motivate staff who are feeling completely drained? When I reflect on my own experiences in the mountains and the workplace, I see that the solution is the same. The key is not just understanding people’s fundamental needs but actively catering to them.

The world has changed but our human needs haven’t. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs defines five categories that dictate an individual’s behaviour – basic physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualisation. The basic premise of the theory is that in order for people to feel happy and well adjusted, these needs must be met in order of importance.  

In these turbulent times, the key to motivating your employees is tapping into their innate desire for safety, connection, recognition and purpose. Let me tell you about what I call the three Cs of employee engagement – Connection, Cause and Celebration.


Whether your staff are returning to the workplace or continuing to work from home, they need to feel a sense of belonging and know that they’re valued, respected and understood.

Gartner survey found that employees’ trust in their teams and leadership has declined along with their receptivity to change. The data shows that in times of uncertainty the need for personal connection is heightened. Highly cohesive teams have a 37 per cent likelihood of sustaining workforce health. People want to feel connected. They want to feel seen. They want managers who lead with empathy and see the person behind the job title. 

Your team members might be feeling the way I did when I looked up from Everest Base Camp – like an insignificant speck. They need to know that their contribution is valued. They need to feel a strong sense of connection to their team and the business as a whole. A connection that surpasses words, distance and other barriers. Taking time to check in with each individual can foster a sense of connection and let people know that you see them and you care. It’s also important to support respectful collaboration at all levels of your organisation.


Employees want to feel that they’re part of something bigger, now more than ever. They’re craving a sense of purpose and want to do meaningful work. They want a ‘why’ – a common cause to strive towards.

During the pandemic, a lot of senior leaders have redefined not just their mission, vision and values but their organisational purpose – their reason for being and compass for all their workplace endeavours.

When you embark on a climbing expedition, you know that your fate is tied to others. You’re often physically roped up so if you fall off a mountain, your team mate might save you or fall down with you. You have a compelling common cause – reach the summit and do it safely!

A common cause brings people together, fuelling energy, motivation and resourcefulness. When employees believe that their work is personally relevant, there is a 26 percent increase in the likelihood of workplace health. Great leaders know how to unify employees with a bold and compelling purpose. Something that drives innovation and creativity.


If you want to encourage an unstoppable mindset, you need to create a workplace culture that acknowledges and rewards growth. It’s not about waiting until a team or individual achieves a goal but celebrating the small wins along the way. 

When I arrived in Antarctica on my quest to be the youngest person in the world to climb the highest mountains and volcanos on every continent, I took a selfie. I hadn’t started my expedition yet but in the photo I am beaming with excitement. There was a huge process between wanting to get to Antarctica and actually getting there, so stepping foot on the frozen continent felt like a celebration in itself.

Over my decades of extreme adventures, I’ve learned how important it is to celebrate all the milestones on the way to reaching your goals. As we strive to achieve big dreams, we have to remember to step back, reflect and appreciate how far we’ve come.

When we celebrate milestones, the memory of the accomplishment stays in our mind and we strive to feel it again. If an employee feels that their contribution is valued, they’ll have better job satisfaction and ongoing motivation. Celebrating milestones also makes big goals seem more achievable by breaking them into manageable chunks. It’s a concept that has helped me achieve big goals while extracting maximum fulfilment from the process.

There is so much advice out there on how to motivate and engage employees in a post-pandemic world. When in doubt, think about the intrinsic human need to belong, to connect, and to feel valued. If you lead with empathy and understanding of the human condition, you’ll build an organisation that can weather any storm (or pandemic) as a strong and united front


  1. MOTIVATE ME: Discover how my motivational keynotes build workplace resilience, positivity and unity.
  2. INSPIRE ME: Find out more about my world record-breaking climbs.
  3. INFORM ME: Read about the 3 things you should look for when booking a keynote speaker.


Daniel Bull is a 3x world record-breaking extreme adventurer and virtual keynote speaker. He specialises in empowering leaders and teams to become more resilient, fulfilled and successful, whatever challenges they face.

Focusing on resilience and grit, peak performance, and the power of mindset, Daniel inspires audiences with his passion and authentic presence. His spectacular footage combined with the latest digital technology creates an exhilarating and highly interactive experience.

As a keynote speaker who’s headlined both live and virtual conferences, Daniel inspires audiences to find their own summits and tackle them with confidence.

keep reading

Dream High

Dream High

Defy Limits


Sign up to join us while we explore how to reach greater heights — in our personal & professional lives.