Top motivational factors for employees

Motivation word cloudWe spend quite a significant amount of time at work during our adult life. It is usually even more than eight hours a day. Work does not only generate income for us. It is a source of many social connections, experience, knowledge and it often influences where we live.

Considering the huge amount of time at work, it definitely should not be only about money. It is possible to do anything for a short period of time, but after a period of time and if the job is unsatisfying, you can become exhausted, unmotivated and feel very unhappy with your whole life.

Considering the huge amount of time at work, it definitely should not be only about money.[/tweet_box]


The key factor is motivation. In the HR area, we speak about motivation often. We try to understand what makes employees happy and how they can benefit from their work in other ways than just money. If we are able to understand what motivates each individual at our company, our team will be effective, creative and we frequently see positive employee initiative.

Demotivated employees are a disaster

unmotivated personIf your employees work only for money, sustained motivation is not likely to happen. Your team members will work just enough to get by and not get fired. Why is that terrible? The employees will not care enough about what and how they do. Your clients will be the first one to notice that! And that is a true disaster for your reputation.

Motivation is very complex and this word means something different for each individual. Let’s have a look at some numbers based on extensive research.

If your employees work only for money, sustained motivation is not likely to happen.  [/tweet_box]

Motivation examination

We have to emphasize that examining motivation and evaluating it using numbers is not that easy and the results may vary among different approaches. The most precise approach is to evaluate each individual’s engagement or motivation using a 1-10 scale. Further, a question about not being engaged or motivated is important too.

searching for right employeeHaving an employee feedback system is essential for each company regardless of its size. Such system must be anonymous, otherwise the results are significantly biased or employees tend to answer in what they believe to be politically correct responses..

Even if you have a feedback system where your team members can share their opinions and provide you a feedback about their engagement and motivation, it is not enough. Why? The question to be answered is “What next?”.  A lot of mid-sized companies and all the big corporations usually have an employee feedback system in place, they often pay to have these solutions provided by third-party vendors.  However, “What is next?” is the task for each manager individually.

Having an employee feedback system is essential for each company regardless of its size.[/tweet_box]

And here comes a significant problem. Many managers have been promoted to their position and they do not have satisfactory leadership skills. The result is, they do not have the knowledge or experience to appropriately respond to the feedback they receive. The feedback process is once or twice a year and no change is accomplished at all.  This results in a lack of credibility and confidence in the process itself, and asking employees to provide their opinions soon becomes meaningless.

Motivation in global numbers

According to many different studies, in general, only around 15% of all employees are highly motivated. The actual percentage differs among the different types of jobs and countries. People in the US and Europe tend to find more satisfaction in their jobs than workers in Asia. The overall economical and social status of people affects the attitude to work too.

What is even more disturbing than the low number of “highly engaged” employees is the “highly disengaged” group  that represents up to 20% of all employees. The remaining employees tend to be only “moderately engaged”.

Disengaged & demotivated employees

unmotivated woman at workThe global numbers regarding disengaged employees are probably the biggest concern. The question is how did this happen? Was the hiring process adequate?  Was the organizational culture and work environment so unmotivating that some employees simply resigned? Whatever the reason, fixing the problem and changing the outcome are the responsibility of management and the business owner.

Unmotivated people in your team are like a Trojan horse of your competitors. They not only do their job poorly, they literally sabotage your business. Often it is unlikely that the attitudes and performance of these disengaged people will be turned around, leaving the replacement of these employees as the unfortunate solution.  This makes investment in the  hiring, training and proactive management of all new employees even more essential as the preferred organizational strategy.

What motivates employees?

The question of what motivates employees is extremely important for every manager.  As a manager, remember that an important leadership responsibility is to understand the process of motivation for each member of your team!

Again, thinking that money is the main motivating factor for most employees is usually an inaccurate assumption. Some top motivating factors and guidelines to remember are:

  • Obtaining genuine Work-Life balance
  • Performing meaningful work that has purpose
  • Continuous professional growth and learning that challenges the employee’s talent
  • Having clearly defined goals with specific expectations of results
  • Being appreciated by the organization and manager
  • Being listened to and having a voice in how the work gets done
  • Belonging to a team and having strong working relationships

life work balanceWork-Life balance is an essential factor, especially for the Millennials. If a young employee is consistently asked to work 10-12 hours a day, no amount of salary will prevent low motivation and the employee will ultimately quit.

Also, being appreciated is a commonly overlooked motivational factor by leaders and managers.  Everyone is busy and it is easy to overlook telling employees that they’re doing a “good job”.  Sometimes this simple sentence can do much more for an employee than giving them a raise in pay.

Too often managers get lost in all the data and information they have to deal with; stacks of paper, piles of graphs, PowerPoint presentations and financial statements.  The true mission of management, getting work done through and with people, can be forgotten.

Manager’s role

Managers need to step back and assess how they can do a better job of leading.  Managers need to:

  • Let go of some of the detail and delegate work to others
  • Develop employee skills and abilities and let them know you trust them
  • Work on understanding and improving your interpersonal skills and your relationships with your employees.

It’s important to understand that today, more than ever before, effective management requires greater communication and employee collaboration.  Accomplishing this is both a challenge and an opportunity.