Employee motivation is defined as the level of energy, commitment, persistence and creativity that a company's workers bring to their jobs. It goes without saying that higher employee motivation leads to better engagement and productivity. Unsurprisingly, employee motivation has become one of the top priorities for most businesses.
Why Is Employee Motivation So Important in the Workplace?
Many research has shown that employee motivation is highly linked with employee engagement. Moreover, employee engagement almost always leads to higher productivity.
For that reason, it is not a surprise that organizations put more attention and resources into employee motivation.
In fact, according to Gallup’s survey on employee engagement, an alarming 70% of American employees aren't working to their full potential.
Why, you may ask?
Here's the thing: less engaged employees tend to be less emotionally connected to their companies. They don't feel proud of working for their company, they don't act as brand ambassadors, and they usually don't share the company's values.
What's more, when employees are unhappy at work or feel disengaged, they won't try to innovate or take a proactive approach when it comes to growing a business because they don't feel involved in the business. But you need to get everyone on board to take your business to the next level.
Key Employee Motivation Stats You Need to Know
- Recent research from CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job site, has found that 55% of employees are unhappy at work (CV Library)
- Happy employees experience 31% higher productivity (Talent Works International)
- 62% of employees in managerial positions report high job satisfaction levels (smallbizgenius)
- 51% of US workers say they get a sense of identity from their job (smallbizgenius)
- Employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days (Talent Works International)
- 86% of organizations have a rewards and/or recognition program in place (Hawk Incentives)
- 79% of American workers say company culture is an important factor in job satisfaction (smallbizgenius)
- Employees who feel their superiors treat them with respect are 63% more satisfied with their jobs (smallbizgenius)
- Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work (Gallup)
- 78% of companies have a documented employee engagement strategy and less than 50% measure success (Rise People)
- Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually (The Engagement Institute)
- 80% of employees feel more engaged when their work was consistent with the core values and mission of their organization (IBM)
- Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work (Salesforce)
- Companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue (Aberdeen Group)
- 85% of employees say they were likely to stay longer with an employer that showed a high level of social responsibility (Rise People)
- 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer (Businessolver)
- More than 50% of CEOs say corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, company value, and growth rate (smallbizgenius)
15 Benefits of High Employee Motivation
No matter how big or small a company is, employee motivation is always one of the biggest employers’ goals. Here's a hint: it all comes down to the company culture (including values) you develop.
This is especially true in the world where Millennials make the biggest part of today’s workforce. We are all aware of how demanding Millennials can be, and most employers are aware of their new expectations, requests and needs.
However, employers need to learn how to adjust because the benefits of high employee motivation are numerous.
Compared to unmotivated employees, motivated employees:
1. Handle uncertainty better
Because motivated employees are much more engaged, they are also more self confident in what they do. Consequently, they know how to react in difficult situations.
2. Are better problem-solvers
Problem solving skills are something most employers look for in their employees. If you have employees who are motivated, they will also work harder to solve problems and challenges.
3. Are more innovative and creative
When employees are motivated and engaged, they think about innovative ideas that could help optimize business performance.
4. Are proactive
Motivated employees proactively look for new solutions to eliminate challenges and achieve goals. They don’t wait for feedback and they often evaluate their own work.
5. Are more productive
More motivation and engagement often lead to more productivity. Therefore, companies with motivated employees are often more productive than others. In fact, Hay Group’s research on employee motivation proved that offices with engaged employees are 43% more productive.
6. Understand the company’s goals better
Motivated employees want to understand how their work contributes to the overall company success. Therefore, they always want to understand what the company’s mission, vision and objectives are.
7. Work towards achieving their own goals
Understanding the company's goals, motivated employees are excellent in understanding and achieving their own goals.
8. Work towards achieving the company’s goals
In addition to working hard to achieve their own goals, motivated employees also care about achieving team and company goals.
9. Are more customer-centric
Whether you are in B2B or B2C business, more engaged employees will always care about your customer satisfaction.
10. Stay with the company longer
Fluctuation is one of the biggest workforce problems. Businesses with engaged employees have 87% higher employee retention rate.
11. Are more adaptable and open to changes
Agility is something every employer is trying to achieve. Employees with higher motivation rates are more open to change and are more prompt to agile way of work.
12. Are better team players
As most motivated employees are driven by the company's goals and objectives, they are more likely to be team players than solo players.
13. Have a good impact on other employees
Disengaged employees often have a negative impact on others. In addition, their negativity may create an unhealthy company culture.
14. Tend to be healthier
A report on financial cost of employee disengagement showed that businesses with low employee engagement report 62% more accidents that those with high engagement.
15. Are brand ambassadors
Motivated employees are often emotionally connected to their companies. Furthermore, emotionally connected employees are 3 times more likely to become brand ambassadors. Turning your employees into brand ambassadors can help your increase awareness, sales and attract talent to your company.
15 Tips to Improve Employee Motivation
As today’s workforce is very different from the one we had ten years ago, so are motivational factors.
Every employee is different and not the same things motivate them. However, there are a few employee motivation tips every employer should follow.
1. Choose the right leaders
Assigning the right people to lead employees is crucial for employee motivation. Good leaders have the power to highly motivate and engage their people.
Here is a great overview of what employees are not looking for in their leaders.
2. Coach your managers
Continuous management development and coaching are necessary to keep employee motivation at high levels. As the workforce changes continuously, so do employees characteristics and motivational factors.
3. Define precise but realistic engagement goals
Managers and leaders should be responsible for assigning specific and measurable engagement goals and objectives. Employees who have clear goals are more motivated to achieve them.
4. Make someone accountable
After defining goals, leaders should be held accountable. In other words, if the goals are not achieved, managers should be responsible for discovering why the engagement levels are not satisfying. In addition, they should be the ones defining tactics and methods for improvement.
5. Improve internal communications
This is a crucial one! Companies with poor employee communications suffer very low levels of employee motivation and engagement. Employees who are not informed and feel left behind are much harder to motivate.
Boost your internal comms strategy and watch how your employees get more engaged.
6. Value employees’ work and contribution
Employees need to know that their work is valued. If they got their goals and achieved them, they should understand how does that reflect your company’s success.
7. Give structured feedback
Positive or negative, feedback is necessary. Continuous feedback helps employees stay in the loop and understand if there are any opportunities for improvement.
8. Reward your employees
Don’t forget to reward good work. Recognition and rewards should be a must-have in every organization. However, make sure to reward your employees with something that they value.
Not sure about how to give recognition? Here is a great research on how employees prefer to receive recognition.
9. Connect with your employees
Good leaders are often able to connect with their employees on both personal and professional level. Remember, not everything and at all times need to be about work.
10. Build a positive workplace environment
Healthy workplace environments are the ones where people feel free to talk, feel valued, trust their leaders and have good relationships with other employees. How health your workplace is?
11. Encourage creativity and innovation
Younger generations such as Millennials and generation Z love to be involved in different aspects of the business. Enable them to use their creativity and value their ideas and initiatives.
12. Empower your employees
Give employees more freedom to make decisions themselves. It is hard to be motivated when your whole job is about what other people tell you to do. Therefore, employee empowerment is crucial to improve employee motivation.
13. Implement learning and development programs
Encouraging employee development and learning are great ways to keep your employees motivated. Track their milestones, teach them new skills and promote them to higher positions with more responsibility.
14. Address employees' quality of life
Care about your employees quality of life and work-life balance. Highly motivated and engaged employees are also the ones that experience burnout sooner. Take care of your best-performers!
15. Make sure to understand what motivates them
Not all employees are the same and not all are motivated by the same things. Some prefer monetary rewards, some appreciate recognition in the form of nice words or touch.
Check out this great video by TEDX CosmoPark on what motivates employees and how to go about dealing with unmotivated employees.
How to Measure Employee Motivation
How to know if, and to what extent, your employees are motivated?
Employee motivation is not easy to measure. However, there are 3 common ways companies use:
1. Performance reviews
Not only that performance reviews can help you motivate employees, but they can also be a good measure for it.
Bad performance review results can be a very good indicator of low employee motivation and engagement. Once bad performance is identified, employers should work towards figuring out what is causing low motivation levels.
2. Employee motivation and engagement surveys
Surveys are one of the most popular ways to measure employee motivation. However, employers should be very careful when choosing survey questions.
It is extremely important for employee engagement surveys to be anonymous. In addition, it is good to use a combination of different question types such as open questions and scales.
3. Customer satisfaction surveys
Customer satisfaction often depends on how satisfied employees are. Furthermore, satisfied employees are much more motivated and engaged employees.
Therefore, measuring customer satisfaction can help you identify levels of employee motivation. This is especially true when employees are in direct contact with your customers. This technique is often used with employees in sales and customer success.
Employee Motivation Hierarchy
In order to successfully motivate your employees, you really need to understand what is it that motivates and drives them.
Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is one of the most popular needs theories. In this theory, motivation is the result of a person's attempt at fulfilling five basic needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization.
These needs exist in a hierarchical order. In other words, lower-level needs must be met before higher-level needs can be met.
This theory can also be applied to help us understand employee motivation in the workplace. Applying this theory to get insights into employee motivation can help companies strategize how to use monetary incentives more effectively.
Check out Change Dynamics’ modified Malsow’s Hierarchy applied to employee motivation.
Improve Employee Motivation with Better Internal Communications
In this blog, we have mentioned several times how important internal communications are for employee motivation. In fact, employees who are not informed about what is going on in the company, struggle to stay motivated and engaged.
However, most companies face internal communication challenges that prevent them from optimizing employee relations.
For that reason, many employers have invested in tools and software to help them optimize internal comms strategy and here's why 👇
What's next? Download the eBook “10 Principles of Modern Employee Communications” where we share tips & best practices for successfully communicating with your employees in today's digital age.