Understanding Employee Motivation
If you’re a manager, motivating your team members is one of the most important parts of your job. A company’s success depends on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’re in luck because we know how to boost employee morale and motivation in the workplace by implementing a few changes.
Types of motivation.
There are several kinds of motivation and several ways to break them down, but we want to keep this high level and focus on the main motivational factors. True motivation is something that has to come from within, and it happens on a personal level. However, motivation at work can be influenced by consequences, incentives, or social pressures. As a manager, you can learn how to harness these ways to motivate.
With low performing employees it may be easier to criticize or comment on all the things they’re doing wrong. Negative consequences can be motivating, and sometimes correction is necessary, but studies have shown that balancing 3-5 times as many positive statements and praise to corrective statements yields optimal results. Encouraging employees for good behavior is much more effective than trying to discourage bad behavior. Plus, it’s more fun.
How do social connections and social pressure help? You may be surprised to learn that a paycheck doesn’t retain employees as well as recognition and purpose. Why? A paycheck is nice and allows you to buy things you want. But it is standard, it’s routine, it becomes old news quickly. On a high level, recognition meets a social and emotional need that people have by giving them a sense of belonging and safety at work. Doesn’t that sound much more motivating than just doing something so you won’t get fired?
What motivates an employee in the workplace?
Motivation in the workplace isn’t always easy. Employees are likely not as attached to their work as other things in their life. However, if you help them find the meaning and purpose in their work, you may see increased employee satisfaction and engagement.
Do they know your company’s overall objectives and goals? Improve employee motivation at work by helping them see a common vision. Knowing a company’s goal can motivate employees because they have something to work toward that gives their work meaning. No one wants to do something that seems unnecessary or uninfluential.
How to boost employee morale and motivation.
Let’s start with some common mistakes managers make that demotivate (and lead to disengaged employees):
- No one-on-one attention or recognition
- Poor leadership structure
- Unclear expectations
Instead do the opposite:
- Recognize! (Are you sensing a theme here?)
- Create structure
- Have clear expectations
An easy way to boost employee motivation and improve your work environment overall is with (you guessed it) a great recognition program! Positive reinforcement is a powerful motivator, but good motivation and incentivizing is not simply bribery or dangling a carrot in front of your employees. It takes high quality recognition that is specific, timely, and frequent. Specific, frequent, and timely recognition helps employees understand what’s expected of them and can help them understand the structure of your organization.
To get great work out of people you need to provide positive feedback often! Let them know when they did a good job so they know what to replicate. When recognition is specific, employees are more clear about what they need to do. When employees feel like their work is valued, they’ll be more motivated to continue to do great work. This is the power of recognition, it gives employees both direction and purpose. They know what they need to do and they’re motivated to do it because they know their work does not go unnoticed.
Motivating is easy and, as a bonus, doesn’t have to cost your organization much. While the thought of a monetary reward may help push an employee toward a goal, the real, lasting motivation comes when both a company and its employees are working together toward a common purpose. That motivation is reinforced when everyone is appreciated for their work.