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A strongly motivated employee in the workplace can make a real difference to organisational results. But how can companies ensure that their workforce stays engaged at all times?

What is employee motivation, and why does it matter?

Employee motivation is crucial for organisational success. It’s the level of enthusiasm, commitment, and drive that a company’s staff bring into their role on a daily basis. In its absence, companies struggle to meet their goals and experience decreased productivity and job satisfaction amongst its employees.

However, even in fortunate cases where employee motivation exists, there still needs to be nurturing and monitoring on a continuous basis. Companies must ensure that their workforce is challenged to an optimal level to avoid loss of motivation and drive. This can be a problem for certain workplaces, as not all tasks will appeal to their employees at all times. For this reason, businesses must be creative enough to find ways to keep employees committed and engaged.

The importance of employee motivation

An unmotivated workforce has a difficult time meeting ambitious goals. Imagine that an entire team of employees are working at a slower pace, avoiding tasks, and spending time on their phones. They are unfocused and put little energy into getting work done.

The first obvious consequence of this is a waste of resources. Unmotivated employees can have a knock-on effect on the other staff, setting a low standard on how work tasks should be approached. As a result of this, overall organisational productivity and the company’s reputation are affected.

On the other hand, highly motivated employees are efficient, energetic, creative, and eager to work through any potential obstacles. They set higher standards for the quality of work that must be accomplished and are a great addiction to the company.

Furthermore, a motivated employee brings many benefits to the company, such as:

  • Higher productivity levels
  • More innovation
  • Lower levels of absenteeism
  • Lower levels of staff turnover
  • Great reputation and stronger recruitment

Regardless of how well a company is doing in terms of employee motivation, their focus on this particular aspect must be ongoing. As soon as motivation rates drop, the revenue and output could follow soon. For this reason, every company should find the motivational tools that best work for their workforce and apply them daily.

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Why do certain motivation techniques work better than others?

Employees are unique individuals. As a result of this, the methods that make them more engaged with their jobs will also have to be tailored to their personality and individual characteristics.

Before considering various motivation approaches, it is important that companies take the time to understand their workforce and their needs. For example, some companies will find that their staff is motivated by financial incentives, while others will find more fulfilment in the idea of making a positive contribution to the world.

In short, some motivation techniques work better than others because people have two different types of motivation:

  • Extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation

Based on this simple categorization and many other variables, companies can start designing a strategy that aims to keep their employees enthusiastic about their work.

Motivation strategies to consider

  1. Motivators – what drives your team to achieve better work results?
  2. Recognition – celebrate top performers who embody the company’s values. Most people are deeply touched by gestures that communicate their recognition and appreciation.
  3. Growth – providing opportunities for growth is key for a motivated team of employees. Most people want to advance professionally, therefore ensuring there is plenty of room for growth is essential.
  4. Achievements – celebrate them! This creates a positive feedback loop for employees to want to achieve even more.
  5. The work itself – sometimes, the biggest motivator is the job itself. Don’t forget that some employees find particular fulfillment in what they do, so don’t be afraid to use this factor in your employee motivation strategy.
  6. Responsibility – where there’s too little responsibility, people can start losing the motivation to perform their job. Find the perfect balance between the right amount of responsibility and overwhelming pressure.

Hygiene factors

Don’t forget that once found, motivation has to be maintained. Most of the maintenance work can be done by addressing the work environment and workplace policies/ relationships. Do keep in mind:

  • Job security (is the job secure enough to ensure employee commitment?)
  • Company policies
  • Salary
  • Work conditions
  • Manager/ supervisor

Other common motivators

  • 3 factors – the work environment, the job, and individual characteristics
  • The social work environment, refers to an employee’s interpersonal relationships with close co-workers and immediate supervisors
  • The psychological work environment, involves how the employee perceives the work itself, as well as the employee’s personal job satisfaction

Practical Tips to motivate employees

  • Employee motivation surveys – What makes your team jump out of bed in the morning?
  • Employee satisfaction surveys – How much of your workforce’s motivation is linked to their job satisfaction?
  • Job well done – recognise it. Never let a well-done pass unacknowledged!
  • Focus on intrinsic rewards While financial or other extrinsic rewards are efficient, it is important for employees to have a personal connection with the work they do.
  • Autonomy, not bureaucracy Whenever you can, encourage your team to make decisions on their feet.
  • Create an amazing work environment Otherwise, who would be motivated to move mountains in a dreadful workplace?
  • Be a visionary If you can lead by example, do it! Nothing inspires your team more than seeing their leader accomplish great milestones.
  • Solicit ideas and suggestions and act on them This helps employees feel valued.
  • Career-pathing What opportunities for career advancement do you offer?
  • Provide flexibility – Allow employees to work from home, be understanding.

Mental health and employee motivation

Lastly, companies should not forget that chronically unmotivated employees might struggle with a mental health condition such as depression. Motivation is not always a matter of willpower – this is why having mental health support in the workplace is essential. SupportRoom provides on-demand support to employees that need to be listened to. Get in touch with one of our therapists today and help your team increase their productivity and well-being at work.

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