What is employee motivation? Well, apart from the key to an organisation’s success, it’s also the level of commitment, drive and energy that a company’s workers bring to the role every day. Without it, companies experience reduced productivity, lower levels of output and it’s likely that the company will fall short of reaching important goals too.

Employee motivation is the level of commitment, energy and innovation that a company's staff hold during the working day. It's as important as it is difficult to track; maintaining and improving motivation in the workplace can be a problem for many companies, as not every task will be interesting. Therefore businesses must find ways to keep their employees engaged, with motivation monitored and nurtured too.

Why is employee motivation important in the workplace?

Imagine an employee whose work motivation is particularly low. They're probably working at a slower pace, avoiding tasks, and spending time on their phones. But most of all, they’re unfocused and aren’t putting any energy into their work.

This isn’t only wasting your resources but could have a knock-on effect to other employees, potentially holding back the entire company from producing work to the highest standard or meeting important targets.

On the other hand, a motivated employee is enthusiastic, driven and takes pride in their work. They accomplish tasks quickly, take action and want to do a good job, both for themselves and for the company.

Whether your company is at its best, or on its way up, staff motivation is very important. The moment it drops, revenue and output could soon follow.

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How to improve employee motivation in the workplace: 10 tips

The first step to improving employee happiness is making sure your workforce is motivated. These are the top 10 things you can do to help your employees stay engaged at work.

1. Lead with vision

Everyone wants to know that their efforts are driving towards something. What’s the next step? What does success look like for the company? A destination helps to motivate the journey, so make sure the vision for the company is clear.

2. Make sure everyone understands the ‘why’

Your employees will know what needs to be done, but you need to explain further; you need to communicate the ‘why’ of each task. The why is the company’s overall mission. If everyone knows how their individual actions can personally add to the overall goal of the company, it brings much-needed intrinsic motivation to even the most simple task.

3. Set frequent clear targets

You obviously have big targets that you want to hit as a company, but smaller goals are the key to motivation. All goals should add to the overall target, but breaking this into more attainable chunks feels less overwhelming. If employees are frequently hitting targets, the feeling of satisfaction grows and will act as a great motivator to continue on to the next set of goals.

4. Recognise and reward great work

Employees need to know that their managers appreciate their hard work. Giving well-deserved recognition not only increases self-esteem but also enthusiasm and team morale.

A recognition platform is an effective tool to celebrate star performers who embody your company values. It's important to support employees all year round with team-building exercises, wellbeing schemes, secondment opportunities and EAP programs. However, for more special occasions, such as a 10-year work anniversary or employee of the month, we recommend going a step further and rewarding your teams.

The reward doesn't necessarily have to be monetary, it could be a gesture, such as giving them a day off. Rewards are particularly good promoters of motivation and job satisfaction. So if you want to encourage your employees to go the extra mile, make their effort worth it with a gift or thoughtful act.

5. Give your team autonomy

Time is precious. So when we don’t feel in control of our time and energy, motivation levels can really drop. Allowing for some elements of freedom in the workplace, whether that’s flexible working hours or unlimited time off, demonstrates trust from leaders to employees. This adds motivation, as the satisfaction of a job well done comes with the feeling that they were in control and did it on their terms.

6. Create a welcoming workplace environment

No one wants to sit in a gloomy office and desperately wait for home time every day. If workplaces create a friendly culture, with areas for rest and play, employees will look forward to coming into work. The saying ‘work hard, play hard’ is important here. As motivation and mood go hand in hand, a poor mood can affect the ability to concentrate and will lower the feeling of energy in the workplace.

7. Offer impressive benefits

Make everyone feel that they are working in the best place they can be. Offering employee benefits and perks, such as the wide range available through our perks platform, and fringe benefits that aim to make your people's lives better both in and outside of work, helps to boost the mood and sense of loyalty to the company. Make sure your benefits suit your employees' unique needs; for instance, if they live in London, they may require a London weighted allowance.

8. Encourage teamwork

Collaboration between teams in the company allows ideas to be developed further. Working with those with different skill sets will, in turn, create more innovative results. In teams, there’s power in numbers and anyone experiencing a lack of motivation should be boosted by those around them.

9. Create a career path

No one wants to be static for long. We all want to know that we are going somewhere and focus on that next step. Ask employees what they want from their career, and lay out what they need to do to get there. Have growth conversations with team members to design a career path; this will help to create the drive to reach the next stage and feel that they have a long and productive journey ahead within the company.

10. Support staff motivation by supporting employee wellbeing

When organisations are implementing motivation strategies or employee incentive schemes, they often overlook wellbeing.

There's no dispute that using rewards as an incentive is a great motivator. However, if an employee is feeling tired or overwhelmed they won't produce their best work – no matter how hard they try.

Taking a well-rounded approach to wellbeing, so addressing your teams' mental, emotional, and physical health is a great way of keeping them healthy, happy, and at the top of their game.

Read next: 19 effective employee engagement ideas

What are the benefits of staff motivation?

Higher productivity levels

It comes as no surprise that implementing employee motivation techniques encourages people to work productively and results in better revenue outcomes. However, not many people know that a productive way of working also positively influences employee experience, as it promotes higher job satisfaction.

More innovation

Motivating employees with rewards and other benefits grows a culture of innovation. When employees feel appreciated and supported by their organisation they want to challenge themselves. Consequently, the importance of motivation in the workplace should never be underestimated, as it stimulates growth. Moreover, managers who recognise what benefits motivate their teams often see the best results.

Lower levels of absenteeism

Employers who acknowledge the importance of motivation in management, accept that leaders get the best out of their teams when they're supportive and not critical. When a manager cares about their team's workload and wellbeing, absence levels tend to be lower as employees feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

Lower levels of staff turnover 

Employee benefits and motivation go hand-in-hand and together contribute to exceptionally high retention rates. When employees receive perks, in addition, to reward incentives, they're highly motivated and are unlikely to look for another role. Especially, if other companies can't match their compensation package.

Great reputation and stronger recruitment for your organization

Organisations who understand how to increase employee motivation, often deliver exceptional employee experiences and have a strong internal brand. However, this doesn't happen overnight. A strong internal brand is the result of data-driven strategies that rely on employee feedback. Businesses with established brand ambassadors, or in other words, happy and motivated employees both retain and attract top talent.

Read next: 10 company perks & benefits to motivate your team

How to measure (and maintain) employee motivation

It’s difficult to assign a metric to measure employee motivation. The only genuine way to measure this, is to know how employees are really feeling. Some professionals use employee engagement software, others organise frequent 1-1 meetings.

Annual surveys are too infrequent, too hard to measure and too long. By the time you ask for feedback in an annual survey, employees may have been living with those problems for up to a year and they may be having detrimental effects on the business. Instead, we recommend you look for a confidential pulse survey tool.

It'll let you conduct short, frequent surveys, and make it easier for HR to quickly gather and act on vital feedback about what makes employees tick. As a business leader or HR member, employees may find it difficult to be honest in face-to-face interviews, so confidential questions are a great way to get a full picture of the business.

The best solutions will display your results on a real-time dashboard, allowing you to quickly measure trends and identify issues before they become larger problems. This also allows you to understand what employees find motivating and what they feel may be holding them back - so you can swiftly implement a solution. You also have the ability to regularly check back with them to see if anything has improved or changed. 

Showing that you care, listen and act upon the things that really matter to them, will - ultimately maintain motivation.


Employee motivation: your FAQs answered

What is employee motivation?

If you want to know what makes employees motivated you need to understand what energises them. Or, in other words, the aspects of their job or your organisation's culture that resonate with them the most. Not all employees are motivated by the same thing. Depending on the circumstance and individual some are driven by reward — an example of extrinsic motivation. Whereas those who find their job role naturally fulfilling, experience intrinsic motivation.

What is a good motivator for employees?

How do you improve employee motivation?

Learn how you can reward and recognise with Perkbox

Celebrate and motivate your employees no matter where they’re working — in one building, remotely or across multiple locations.

  • Create a culture of appreciation that engages employees wherever they are
  • Boost productivity and employee retention
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