Employee Motivation: Everything You Need To Know
Motivation is the energy and conviction that drives employees to wake up and go to work. It's an integral part of productivity.
Without it, employees and companies would struggle to meet their targets.
Unfortunately, not many corporations understand how to boost their workers' morale and keep it at optimum levels. You need to know your staff's strengths and weaknesses to harness their motivation.
We give you an exhaustive guide into employee motivation examples, tips, incentives, and motivation strategies.
💪 What Is Employee Motivation?
Employee motivation is the sum of energy, creativity, and enthusiasm workers have towards their workplace. It's like a battery, storing the energy they need to get through a regular workday. Without motivation, we wouldn't get anything done.
❓ Importance of Employee Motivation
Reduced Employee Turnover
Employees are more likely to stay in an organization that continuously boosts their motivation. A company that offers bonuses and commissions every time employees hit a monthly target is more likely to retain workers than one that doesn't. Companies spend an average of $5000 just to hire new talent.
Motivation and productivity go together as milk goes with honey. Employees working in a company that applies various motivation strategies will be more productive than their counterparts. As a result, productivity goes up to 21%.
Increased Talent Recruitment
Companies with an excellent reputation, coupled with practices such as employee motivation programs, will always be appreciated by candidates. In addition, the companies have a positive work culture. These qualities act as an incentive for new talent.
Increased Job Satisfaction
Employees who work at firms with employee motivation programs report higher levels of job satisfaction. A workplace that values and regularly boosts its staff morale is bound to have better productivity rates than those that don't.
Motivational Theories in Management
[In this part, we take a serious deep dive into theoretical models. If you prefer jumping right into the practical tips, click here]
Motivation is a critical component in any business organization. For example, a company might have hardworking employees, but there won't be any productivity if they aren't motivated. Thus, motivation theory is the study of the drive that influences one to work towards a specific goal.
It's an essential pillar in business and management studies. Motivation research has come up with two determining factors:
- Intrinsic - rooted in the desire to meet one's human needs. They act on the individual from the inside.
- Extrinsic - based on influences from one's external environment.
There are several theories thought to drive motivation in an individual. They include:
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's hierarchy of needs was invented by Abraham Maslow, one of the most prolific psychologists of our time. His theory's framework is built on a person's basic needs.
He proposed that an individual becomes motivated once his needs are met, further classifying them in chronological order into a pyramid. Grouping the needs into this order implies that you need to meet those at the bottom to ascend to the next tier.
The requirements are grouped into five categories:
🧠 Physiological Needs
These are necessary for human life because they ensure our survival. They include:
- Shelter, and
While studies show that you can go days without food, the same doesn't apply to water. Water is to the body while fuel is to a car. These needs are the primary reasons we look for work - because work provides the means to acquire them.
🦺 Safety Needs
Next on Maslow's pyramid are safety and security needs. Everyone needs to feel safe and secure in their environment. These needs extend to other human aspects, e.g., financial security.
👥 Social Needs
Human beings are social animals, so it's expected that you'll seek other people. The desire for love and inclusion drives social needs. It's the reason we group ourselves into teams.
Grouping ourselves into units not only gets the job done faster, but it fulfills an inherent need for socialization. Think of the employee motivation quotes. For example:
"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it."
- H.E Luccock.
✅ Esteem Needs
These needs focus on self-esteem, independence, recognition, self-respect, and respect from others. Fulfilling these needs boosts your confidence and high self-worth. It also increases your confidence in your abilities and, consequently, your self-worth.
When you get an A on a quiz, this makes you feel good about yourself, right? But, on the other hand, a lack of esteem needs leads to feelings of inferiority and helplessness.
😊 Self Actualization
It's the final step to meeting all of your needs. Self-actualization is like beating the final boss in a video game. Imagine the satisfaction you get after finishing the last level of a video game. That's what self-actualization is about - fulfillment. It's becoming the best version of yourself, transforming that perception of yourself into reality.
Herzberg's Two Factor Theory
Herzberg's Two Factor Theory relies on two aspects: Hygiene and Motivation. Herzberg surveyed employees then grouped the results into two factors:
- Motivators - these were intrinsic factors such as recognition and career advancement. They contributed to employee satisfaction.
- Hygiene - these factors were identified as the causes of dissatisfaction. They were extrinsic, focusing on the employees' environment, e.g., working conditions, remuneration, and work culture.
McClelland's Theory of Needs
This theory identifies three needs based on an individual's life experiences. They are the primary source of employee motivation.
Need for Achievement
It's driven by the desire to succeed based on set standards. These individuals exhibit a robust sense of personal responsibility. They know to complete that task before their supervisor tells them to. They take calculated risks and have a strong need for feedback.
Need for Power
This need is fueled by the desire to have authority over their life situations and exert their influence. It's a great trait to have in leaders because it ensures better working conditions. A good example is managers and team leaders.
Need for Affiliation
This trait is more predominant in extroverts. It's driven by the strong urge to connect with others and form meaningful relationships. A need for affiliation is a simplified version of social needs in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Vroom's Theory of Expectancy
Vroom's expectancy theory explores the relationship between effort and results. It proposes that employees are more motivated to perform at high levels when they believe it will give them the best effect.
It's built on three core factors:
- Valence - it's how much the outcome means to the employee.
- Expectancy - the belief that you're bound to get the best outcome if you work harder.
- Instrumentality - the impression that you'll get the expected outcome if you perform as required.
McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y
Theory X proposes that the primary driving force for employee motivation is financial gain and security. In addition, employees work to satisfy their psychological and safety needs. There are two approaches to motivation in this theory:
- Hard - through coercion, threats - strict control in essence. It encourages hostility and micromanagement.
- Soft - it's the complete opposite of the rigid approach. Management exercises little to no control over employees. It encourages the decentralization of power and voluntary participation.
An ideal work environment comprises an equal mix of both theories for optimum productivity.
Alderfer's ERG Theory
This theory shares a similar framework to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. ERG theory proposes three primary needs:
It works on the principle that if you don't meet one type of need, individuals will put more effort to fulfill those in a lower category.
📈 12 Factors That Drive Employee Motivation
Recognition is a vital aspect of employee motivation. Everyone wants to be recognized when they do something good. It's a basic inherent need, as highlighted in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
It's the reason we give out trophies to winning teams or medals to athletes who perform better than their competitors. Look at pets; we give them treats when they obey simple instructions, right?
The same logic applies to the workplace. Recognition boosts employee motivation. Regular appraisals motivate employees to be more productive. A simple congratulatory message or shoutout during the monthly team meetings can boost productivity by 21%.
2. Employee Wellbeing
A company that cares about its employees' wellbeing is bound to motivate anyone working there. Therefore, managers need to encourage their people to speak up when they notice signs of burnout - both mentally and physically.
Our scientifically-designed wellbeing booster offers a great start to help managers extend mental wellness support. It enables employees to stay calm, energized, and resilient during stressful times.
Managers can schedule this booster program once every week for their team and have it for one year. We make it easier by integrating tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams that send automated reminders to those involved.
This program helps employees with:
- Reducing stress
- Preventing burnout
- Boosting productivity and performance
- Staying relaxed
Employee incentive plans are vital for motivation in the workplace. People want to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts. It makes them feel valued and appreciated - giving more reasons to strive even harder.
Incentives come in two varieties: financial and non-financial. Financial incentives include commissions, bonuses, and cash rewards. Non-financial incentives, on the other hand, include rewards such as sponsored courses or certifications, extra vacation time, and even paid leave.
4. Work Culture
Work culture involves the beliefs, ideologies, principles, and values in a work environment. They determine how conducive the work setup will be and how employees relate.
Workplace culture also determines how well you adjust to a company and your satisfaction from working there. It also plays an essential role in employee retention. People want to work in an environment that values and cares about their welfare.
A company that encourages values such as respect, transparency, collaboration, and good communication is likely to have higher rates of employee motivation than one that doesn't. Similarly, employees who feel connected to their company's vision and goals are more likely to be more motivated than their counterparts.
5. Employee Participation and Collaboration
Does your workplace encourage participation? Does the rest of the team value their contributions? Do they feel a sense of purpose while at the company?
Employees need to see results to feel motivated. They need equal opportunities to contribute to the company's productivity.
Employee autonomy refers to the freedom to make choices related to work processes. Autonomy motivates employees, giving them a sense of achievement. Giving workers the freedom to make decisions increases job satisfaction and productivity rates.
Leadership is a major determining factor for employee motivation in the workplace.
Are the higher-ups distant and far-removed from the rest of the staff? Are they harsh or cruel to their employees?
Do they care about their staff? Do the leaders in your firm know how to delegate duties according to their workers' strengths? Do they have a cordial working relationship with members of staff?
An ideal work setup would have supervisors and managers who continuously check up on their subordinates. The leaders should also strive towards improving the conditions and general environment in the workplace. They should be kind and care about their welfare.
These qualities are an excellent boost for employee motivation. Would you work in an environment where the manager piles tasks on their staff without caring about their welfare?
8. Lack of Goal Clarity
A lack of contribution to company goals is a tell-tale sign of declining motivation. Zavvy's Goal Companion program helps reinforce your company goals amongst all the employees. It helps them understand the importance of their contribution, find meaning in what they do, and stay focused for a rewarding experience.
Here's a glimpse of a message sent through Slack - by our goal companion:
Connect with our experts to discuss how you can bridge the gap between your company goals with those of your employees!
9. Career Growth and Development Plans
Employees are more motivated to be productive when their workplace has growth and career advancement programs. Employers who offer learning opportunities such as workshops, training programs, and even courses have more motivated employees than their counterparts.
Giving them a chance to sharpen and improve their skills instills a sense of accomplishment, leading to increased job satisfaction. It also improves overall productivity, giving them an edge over their competitors.
Similarly, employers who have career progression structures boost employee motivation. Conversely, companies that don't provide promotions leave their staff feeling stuck and dissatisfied, leading to burnout.
10. Work-Life Balance
A good workplace encourages a balance between work and life. It offers flexibility, enabling remote or hybrid arrangements. Employees can choose to work during morning or evening hours, depending on their productivity levels.
Similarly, giving your employees time to rest and recharge significantly boosts their motivation. In addition, studies show that encouraging breaks between work hours are beneficial for productivity.
On the other hand, toxic work environments are detrimental to employee motivation.
One might even compare them to cancer. They drain their employees' energy and deny them time to rest and recover. This leads to burnout and dissatisfaction. It also contributes to increased employee turnover because nobody would want to work in such an environment.
11. Job Security
Job security is vital for employee motivation. It encourages higher engagement levels leading to increased productivity. Nobody wants to work in an environment where they constantly fear termination.
Workplaces that don't give their employees job security contribute to higher anxiety levels. Such an environment exposes its workers to increased stress levels. This results in:
- Increased employee turnover
- Chronic illnesses and,
- Mental health challenges like depression.
12. Salary and Remuneration
Although money isn't always why people decide to work at a particular company, it's undoubtedly a significant factor in employee motivation. The key to a motivated workforce is equal remuneration based on individual abilities and roles.
🛠 Practical Tips to Easily Boost Motivation
Below are helpful pointers on how to boost employee morale and motivation:
📝 Set Up Development Plans for your staff
Encourage a learning culture in your workplace by setting up development plans to get further training. The additional skills and knowledge ensure they rank high in the competitive corporate setup.
It's the perfect way to boost employee motivation. It complements their self-development goals, giving them a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
💪 Delegate Tasks According to Abilities
Employee enablement refers to employers assigning tasks based on strengths and ability. Delegating roles to your staff according to their capability helps actualize personal and company goals.
For example, if you have a worker who's good at compiling data and reports, then they're better suited in, say, the marketing team. Doing this encourages job satisfaction and reduces employee turnover rates.
🌴 Plan Team Building Events and Group Activities
Team building and group activities are excellent employee motivation strategies. They enhance collaboration among employees and also improve their overall wellbeing.
Plan company hikes and retreats where workers can bond over shared activities. It's also a fantastic way to get them to unwind and relax.
🏆 Set up a Reward / Incentive Program
A good employee motivation program should have incentives. Rewards are incredibly effective at raising morale. Introduce bonuses whenever employees meet targets.
Alternatively, you can set up raffles and games to win prizes for each goal they meet. The list is endless. Just make sure the incentives are meaningful, then sit back and watch as motivation and productivity levels skyrocket.
💬 Encourage Open Communication and Feedback
Introduce regular forums where employees can sit down and brainstorm new ideas and strategies. Encourage upper management to provide regular and constructive feedback for employees. This way, they know what areas to work on, thereby boosting productivity.
☕ Incorporate Frequent Breaks During Work Hours
Studies show that taking frequent breaks is excellent at boosting productivity. Therefore, encourage employees to take 5-10 minute breaks every hour to stretch.
Stretching is an excellent way to decompress and improve blood flow. It also helps loosen up tight muscles from sitting at your desk all day.
🏢 Examples: How Big Companies Foster Employee Motivation
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory prioritizes employee motivation by offering continuous training and education. In addition, the company values employee recognition through its Wow Stories program, which celebrates high-performing employees.
The beauty company's approach to employee motivations focuses on three crucial variables:
All employees undergo a continuous training course for their primary products: skincare, perfume, and makeup. The program teaches them the current and emerging trends in the beauty industry. The company has even set up a higher learning institution to provide additional training and development.
The 37 billion dollar company boosts employee motivation through incentives and rewards. For example, Coca-Cola gives its employees' learning and development opportunities funds. Other perks include life insurance and health benefits such as dental and vision plans.
Google keeps its employees motivated by giving them:
- Financial coaching
- Tuition reimbursement
- Remote and Hybrid working arrangements and,
- Peer learning and development programs.
📏 How Do You Measure Employee Motivation?
1. Send out Regular Pulse Surveys to Employees
Pulse surveys will help you get further insight into employee engagement and motivation levels. They also gauge how they respond to various company strategies. Surveys allow for feedback on how to increase productivity.
You can use them to detect any flaws in performance. Examples of questions you might find in an employee survey include:
- Do you feel appreciated and supported by the company for your efforts?
- Are you satisfied with the management practices? If not, what are some of the changes you would suggest?
- What are your top three goals for this year?
- How satisfied do you feel with your current role and responsibilities?
- Would you say you feel supported by the company regarding career growth and advancement?
- On a scale of 1 - 10, how likely would you recommend potential candidates to join our workforce?
2. Set Goals
Setting goals and targets gives your employees an aim to strive to attain. Include metrics and KPIs they should fulfill; this way, you can track their performance. Meeting these targets motivates them to work even harder.
3. Encourage Frequent Check-ins With Management
Open communication and feedback are essential in measuring employee motivation. Frequent check-ins allow employees to voice their concerns to management and find solutions.
➡️ How Can You Boost Employee Motivation?
Employee motivation is the staff's energy and enthusiasm towards their employers. There are various ways one can improve morale at the workplace. For starters, by devising a reward program.
These incentives can be in the form of bonuses, paid time off, or donations to one's social cause, e.g., charities. Recognizing when an employee meets a goal is also a great way to boost employee morale.
Lastly, encourage open communication and regular feedback between managers and their subordinates. Our employee development plans can help you improve your employees' morale and productivity. In addition, we offer a free consultation to understand those needs better.