February 13, 2020    |    By

Motivation is necessary to perform at your highest level. The definition of motivation as it refers to work is the desire to want to perform. Synonyms include determination and ambition. In connection with your employees, this translates into having employees who willingly work to the best of their ability to see your company grow. Without this employee motivation, you have a business full of workers who come in for their paychecks, doing only what is necessary to keep their jobs. Your company remains where it is now, or even begins to fail. Your bottom line suffers.

How Employee Motivation Helps

It is one thing to say that employee motivation helps your bottom line, but how does this occur?

  1. Management Of Human Capital

    A company grows as its assets start to consistently outweigh its liabilities. One of the greatest assets of a company is its employees. The more willing they are to perform at their best, the more productive they become. This increases their value.

  2. Employees Meet Personal Goals

    People need goals to work toward. Each of your employees has a personal goal, whether it is to get a raise, to move up in the company or something entirely different. By motivating them, you help them achieve their personal goals. What then happens is they set even higher goals and work even harder to meet these.

  3. Employee Satisfaction Increases

    Unhappy employees do only what is necessary and then go home and forget about their jobs until the next day. Creating an atmosphere where employees feel motivated allows them to arrive at work ready to do their best. They will often be willing to go that extra mile for you and the company because their jobs allow them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

  4. Greater Employee Efficiency

    When employees are working toward something of importance to them, they want to feel that success of accomplishment as soon as possible. In order to get there quicker, they will begin to look for ways to increase productivity, which requires eliminating unnecessary things and increasing the efficiency of their overall performance.

  5. Greater Opportunity to Meet Company Goals

    As the efficiency and productivity of your employees continue to increase, the company goals come closer to being realized. Before long, you will find the need to increase the company goals, which indicates growth.

  6. Team Harmony

    Unsatisfied employees who really do not want to be where they are every day become irritable. With their own needs for satisfaction unmet, they become self-absorbed and don’t care about whether the other employees are meeting their own needs. Eventually, bickering ensues and nobody is willing to help his or her co-workers. It is like a society where food is scarce, but in this case, the food is satisfying and everyone feels they must fight for the small amount that is available. Motivated employees, on the other hand, understand that there is enough satisfaction to go around and that working together to meet a common goal allows everyone to succeed.

  7. Workforce Stability

    Unhappy employees don’t stay. Humans only allow themselves to stay in an unhappy situation for a short amount of time before they seek an alternative. When your employees are constantly leaving for other positions, morale becomes even lower. Training subsequently becomes a way of operation, as there always seems to be a new employee needing to earn one position or another. In turn, money spent on hiring and training increases. Those employees who have yet to move on do as little as possible and your entire company suffers.

Understanding Motivation

Motivation is something that comes from both within and without. Internally, people have basic needs that need to be fulfilled and they will work to have those needs met. Externally, motivation comes when the conditions to have those internal needs met are in place. It also comes from having those internal needs recognized and validated.

Let’s look at an example. People have the need to feel like they are being heard. Internally, this may motivate an individual to write books, insist on others listening and possibly even doing something drastic to make others stop and listen to what is being relayed. Externally, this need can be met when an employer offers employees a chance to make suggestions or express dissatisfaction. When those thoughts are then acted upon, the employee feels heard and his opinions validated. This encourages him to work harder.

While basic human needs do not change, their placement in the motivation cycle does. Not only does this change occur from one individual to another but it also changes within the same individual over time. For example, a worker starting out may be motivated simply by money as he needs that to take care of things like eating and housing. A middle-aged woman, however, may find that money isn’t the issue. What motivates her is a need to be seen as a valuable addition to the company. Someone close to retirement may have the need to know his life’s work has had meaning and contributed to the company.

By taking the time to understand the internal needs of individuals, you can help reach the internal motivation triggers that keep your employees working their hardest. Even if you do not know the exact thing that motivates any one individual, you can strive to provide the external recognition, encouragement, and validation that all humans need in order to feel confident in expressing the inner motivation triggers that will move them and your company forward.

Types Of Employee Motivation

Motivation can be broken down into two main types of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is when you use external factors to encourage your team to do what you want. Pay raises, time off, bonus checks, and the threat of job loss are all extrinsic motivators. Some are positive and some are not but all can be motivating or demotivating to certain employees. Intrinsic motivation is internal. It’s about having a personal desire to overcome a challenge, produce high-quality work or to interact with team members you like and trust. Intrinsically motivated people naturally receive a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment from what they do.

What Motivates Employees?

If motivation is triggered differently in each individual, what can you do now to help foster an environment within your company that motivates employees? One thing is to actually understand what employees themselves say motivates them to give their best. In a study done by the University of Florida, it was discovered that what managers thought their employees wanted most (money) was actually far from what the employees actually rated number one (interesting jobs). This indicates that management is not in touch with employees on a level that is necessary to understand their needs, and ultimately what motivates them.

  • Interesting Work

    Being bored can be incredibly demotivating. More often than not, when you see someone who is incredibly motivated by their work, it is someone that is highly interested in what they do and continually challenged to do it better.

  • Expressed Appreciation Of Work

    Praise for your employees and the work they do cannot be underestimated. This may be hard for the managers that don’t feel the same need for continual praise but most employees will thrive in an environment where they are acknowledged for the things they do well.

  • Feeling Of Being “In On Things”

    Bottom line, people want to feel important. They want to be a part of the inner circle. This starts early on in life somewhere on the playground and it never really stops. Including your employees on what is happening to the extent that you can help them feel like part of the team.

  • Job Security

    No one wants to work hard for a job that they don’t feel secure in. So much of this goes to the core of human nature where we naturally seek out security in almost every situation. Work is no different. Your employees want to know their job will be there tomorrow and they will be the ones doing it.

  • Competitive Wages

    While salary is not the only thing that matters and it is becoming less so with generations that want more, the pay is still a critical motivator for many people.

  • Promotion And Growth

    There is a phrase that says if you’re not growing, you’re dying. This is a common area of struggle for people to feel motivated. If they don’t feel like they are working toward something, achieving something or learning something new, it can be hard for them to stay motivated for long periods of time.

  • Good Working Conditions

    This is pretty self-explanatory. Good working conditions are important to most people. This speaks to comfort levels and feelings of safety and security. It’s hard to feel motivated when you work in a place where you don’t feel safe.

  • Tactful Discipline

    Few things are more demotivating than feeling like you were unfairly or inappropriately disciplined at work. As a manager, remember to reprimand in private and praise in public.

  • Sympathetic Help With Problems

    Empathy, empathy, empathy. It should be a required quality for each and every manager or supervisor. When your employees are having issues, whether professionally or personally, they need to feel like the person they work for cares about them as a person.

You can start creating a motivational environment within your company today simply by talking with your employees. Find out what they want and what they are seeking to achieve in life. Simply taking the time to listen will help you understand what is needed. Then, start providing those things to your employees.

Is It Realistic To Expect That An Employer Can Motivate The Team?

Some employers and managers hold the belief that employees are either self-motivated or they aren’t and that it cannot be taught or trained. However, many companies have built successful cultures of motivation and have trained their managers to be highly effective at motivating their staff. It is critical for employee motivation that managers and direct supervisors have a clear understanding of how to motivate their staff, what works and what doesn’t, and what each of their individual team members needs.

Don’t Underestimate The Impact That Corporate Culture Can Have

Having a company culture that encourages employee motivation is an absolute necessity for organizations in today’s market. Cultures that motivate their employees experience lower absenteeism, improved retention, happier customers, increased profitability, and attract better quality candidates. How do you develop a culture of motivation? That topic could be a blog article by itself but the basics are having strong ethical leadership, being transparent about company performance, encouraging open lines of communication, having formal and informal recognition programs, offer flexible schedules, wellness programs and offer opportunities for community service.

Employee Motivation And The Future Of Your Company

Society has reached a point where employees no longer feel they must settle for unsatisfying work to simply make ends meet. They have grown to know that they are more than a simple tool meant to help the management succeed. Understanding the needs of your employees and doing what you can to help them spend their days in an environment that allows for meeting those needs, will quickly see you running a company where motivation isn’t a goal any longer. It won’t be a goal because it will be a reality. This reality will see your bottom line improving, possibly even greater than you could ever have predicted.


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This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.