In light of The Great Resignation, motivated employees are key to retaining talent. In fact, employee experience is everything these days.
Eisenhower knew that finding the right motivators in the workplace was essential to success and improving employee experience. As the former U.S President, once said, “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”
It’s important for companies, line managers and HR teams to recognise employee motivators to get the best work out of them and decrease costly staff turnover. Capitalising on key motivators will enable staff to be motivated, passionate and loyal to the organisation. But where to start?
When Abraham Maslow created his Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, he argued that people are motivated by five essential needs that enable an individual to be fulfilled. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs these needs are:
- Physiological - Food, water, warmth and rest
- Safety – including financial security
- Belonging - Relationships, community family and friends
- Self-esteem - Prestige and a feeling of accomplishment
- Self-actualisation - Achieving full potential and extra-curricular activities
Maslow in the workplace
The Hierarchy of needs is often applied to the workplace as a means to determine how to motivate employees and ensure their needs are met. To achieve this, line managers must make time to consider an employee as an individual for their input into the organisation and encourage and support them.
According to Maslow’s theory, an employee begins by focusing on the lower order needs. Those embarking on their career might be more concerned with physiological needs such as income and security. Once these basic needs are met, the employee will focus on social needs. Once the needs are met, an employee may want to meet higher-level needs (growth needs) such as self-esteem.
Although workplace motivation has moved on from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the theory forms the basis of motivation.
Motivational triggers do vary between employees. And the challenge can be for line managers to understand what the motivators are for their team members. However, there are common workplace motivators.
Key motivators in the workplace
Companies with poor employee communications suffer low levels of employee motivation and engagement. Employees who are not informed are difficult to motivate. One of the most important workplace motivators for employees is communication. The more a team interacts with each other, the better their performance will be. Good and regular communication reduces confusion and mistakes as well as improves performance.
Meaningful & challenging work
The Harvard Business Review reported that more than nine in ten of employees would be willing to earn less money for the opportunity to do more meaningful work – showing how important a person’s purpose is to them. If you want your employees to be self-motivated, it’s a good idea to offer them more responsibility with meaningful work.
Challenging and new tasks are important to keep staff engagement, productivity and motivation high. New projects and tasks alleviate the boredom and repetitiveness of job roles, while a challenging task can give the employee a sense of importance and feeling of ownership that will make them feel valued.
A healthy company culture fuels motivation and creates a sense of belonging and joint goals. It is fundamental to making employees feel like they are part of a family. It is important to evaluate your company culture to ensure it promotes collaboration, teamwork and transparency. Excessive bureaucracy, micromanaging by managers and withholding of information can be demotivators for staff as well as have a detrimental impact on company culture. A high-performing company culture will have a competitive edge.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Teamwork can empower the employees to have confidence in voicing their thoughts and opinions and come up with innovative ideas. Teams that work (and play) well together can also improve employee retention too as they enjoy the sense of belonging to the business they work for.
A well selected team that complements different personalities and skill sets enables workers to work together and become a group with a mission. A 2009 study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that “employees rated opportunities to use their skills and abilities in their work as the fourth most important aspect of their job satisfaction.”
Workplace friendships are created through a shared experience. Maintaining healthy friendships at work can motivate people to remain employed with a company. In 2018, Gallup reported that 63% of women who had a work friend were over twice as likely to be engaged during work.
Rewards and recognition are vital to every organisation. Similar to self-esteem needs, a company should promote or give recognition to employees based on their performance. Make sure to reward your employees with something that they value. This will motivate the employee to progress or work towards a promotion. Reward and recognition is important for candidate attraction not only staff retention.
Appreciation & praise
Often forgotten when deadlines are looming and the pressure is on, appreciation is fundamental to keeping employees motivated. A BCG survey asked employees from around the world their top ten factors for on-the-job happiness. Results show that people place appreciation for their work as the most important factor for on-the-job happiness.
It might seem obvious but praising your staff on their achievements can be one of the best motivators out there. There are many ways organisations can appreciate their employees.
Salary & benefits
Many people feel that their salary is a validation of their status and qualifications together with any effort and work they have put into their previous roles. Personal motivations form a part of it too –it is human nature to want to be able to not only pay bills but afford luxuries in life. Glassdoor research shows that 79% of employees would prefer additional benefits as opposed to a pay increase.
With hybrid and remote work now the norm due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some employees can feel isolated with reduced levels of motivation. Nowadays, there is an additional consideration for organisations: How to keep employees who are working away from the office motivated.
Motivation is a powerful energy that drives how employees work and the vigour with which they approach their roles. Motivation is, in short, the incentive we all need to wake up in the morning, get dressed and ready for work. Revisiting Maslow’s theory of motivation is important, as we continue to adapt and adjust workplaces in a post-pandemic world.
It’s normal for employees to face dips in motivation, but it becomes a problem when employees are consistently disengaged. Therefore, HR and SMTs need to take time to review areas such as:
- Communication methods and frequency
- company culture
- reward and recognition schemes
- salary and benefits
While line managers need to get to understand their employees as individuals and consider how each staff member may have different ways to be motivated. People managers also need to:
- ensure that employees have meaningful and challenging work
- look at team dynamics and how the team is working together
- consider how they show their appreciation and give praise
- ensure they communicate opening and regularly
We’re here to help
At Morgan Hunt our team are here to help. If you’re looking to recruit and need guidance or advice on areas such as salary, benefits, reward and recognition just get in touch.