One of the key objectives that should feature in any business and organizational plan is motivation of one’s employees. It goes without saying that a motivated workforce is a more creative and productive one. Innovation is necessary to produce quality work. Only driven employees would put in the effort to find better methods to deliver quality output in the most efficient manner possible. The more engaged and motivated your employees are, the more it helps with reducing turnover. Those who frequently look out for better opportunities may be the ones with great potential while the ones who stay on could be just settling for their circumstances.

Is the current global workforce as motivated as it should be? And if it isn’t, what is the best way to improve the situation, starting with your company?

Motivation of Your Employees | The Best Way to Do It

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This article will take you through 1) eye-opening employee engagement statistics, 2) 7 key reasons why employees feel de-motivated, 3) motivation strategies differ for each worker, and 4) the best ways to motivate employees.


What follows are some eye-opening (and startling) employee engagement statistics:

  • Only 30 percent of employees worldwide feel inspired and engaged by their careers
  • Close to half (48%) of employees across the globe detest their jobs
  • 18 percent of employees globally are actively disengaged meaning though they are present at work, they hate it completely
  • Highly engaged employees were 87 percent less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts
  • 3 out of every 4 people who leave their jobs of their own will, aren’t quitting their jobs but their bosses
  • Less than half of the workforce (40 percent) were aware of their company’s goals, tactics and strategies
  • Organizations with greatly engaged employees accomplish double the annual net income of those whose employees are not so well engaged (as per an analysis of 64 organizations)



© Flickr | Mike Lewis

Here’s a look at some of the chief triggers for employee de-motivation:

1. No Recognition or Feeling of Value

When employees are not recognized or given credit for a job very well done or immense efforts they have put in towards a project, they become demotivated. They lose interest and may not even want to try thinking innovatively, get some extra work done or even just perform their role with feelings of obligation and energy because their boss doesn’t seem to care or notice their hard work and dedication.

2. Unrealistic Demands or Work Load

With the idea of getting a lot of work done and fast, ambitious bosses may place heavy and unrealistic workloads upon the shoulders of their employees. Though holding staff to high standards is not really a bad thing, it does become bad when managers cross the line by being too demanding or overburdening with them. Asking employees to carry out the truly impossible, or insisting that they complete projects over the weekends even when they’re not time-sensitive would invite low morale and decreased productivity from them.

3. Micromanagement

Micromanagement may be defined as a management style characterized by the manager closely (excessively) observing and supervising the work of his employees or subordinates. The manager may not mean any harm by his micromanagement however it can be irritating and bothersome to his employees. The reason is that it tells them he doesn’t trust their judgement and thereby contributes to a loss of motivation. The employees disengaged by the micromanagement may leave for the sake of more freedom or, if the manager is lucky, continue to stay but just muddle through.

4. Job Insecurity

As per a survey by Human Resource Services Inc, job security is the most important factor for employee motivation. So this means, insecurity in the job place can wreak havoc when it comes to employee retention. If an employee is at an expendable job or working in an unstable company, he may just put in the necessary effort to keep getting his salary. The rest of his energy will be spent on updating his resume, gossiping with co-workers, looking for a more stable job elsewhere and planning his jump.

5. No Progress

The majority of employees feel happy when there is continuing learning potential in their company and they have a feeling of growing in their knowledge and skills. Even progress in the form of small workplace accomplishments are triggers for motivation. If on the other hand, employees feel uninspired and stagnant, their enthusiasm and engagement will drop. In addition, if an employee is trying to introduce a new idea or change and it has to pass through lots of red tape, he’s going to lose all the fervor and drive he began with.

6. Conflicting or Otherwise Unpleasant Co-Workers

Research from Gallup reveals that close friendships at work cause a 50 percent increase in employee satisfaction while having a close friend at work increased the likelihood of engagement in work by seven times. So, one can just imagine what would be the outcome of having bullying, intimidating or otherwise unpleasant or conflicting co-workers. Even if the job is well-paying and offers opportunities for career growth, if there are back-stabbers, the result would be misery and stress.

7. Boredom

Research time and again shows that Gen X (roughly people born in the period from the mid 1960’s to 1980) and Gen Y (roughly people born in the period between 1980 and the year 2000) employees today long for a job that is personally satisfying or allows them to apply their personal interests in their job. According to a Philips Work/Life Survey, close to 3 out of every 4 (68 percent) working Americans are willing to accept a salary cut in the midst of a competitive job market and chaotic economy as long as their job enables them to incorporate their personal interests into it. The results of a recent LinkedIn poll support the increasing yearning for fulfillment among the people of different geographies and age groups.


The level of employee engagement can differ based on variables such as occupation or industry or more personal characteristics such as an employee’s education level, age, gender and duration of service at the company. So, managers face the challenge of matching their workers with the right motivation strategy. Given below are a few of the conclusions drawn from studies Gallup conducted in the period between 2010 and 2012 with different sections of the U.S. population:

  • Employees in possession of a college degree have engagement levels that are lower than those seen among employees in possession of a high school diploma or even less than that. This indicates that managers need to improve on their investment in the employees with higher degrees by identifying ways by which they can capitalize on and honor all that they have achieved.
  • Employees in production and manufacturing are among those business sector employees who are the least engaged. The reason could be that the management culture in these sectors concentrates more on process than on people. So, if some more management culture could be devoted to people with respect to these industries, considerable benefit in employee motivation and engagement can be expected.
  • The job-hopping tendency is particularly common among millennials (Gen Y). As such, it would be wise if the manager offered this group lots of opportunities to learn and progress. This would contribute to increased retention of the millennial generation.
  • When compared to other generations, Baby Boomers (those people born in the period between 1946 and 1964) respond better when their managers devote extra effort to showing they care. So to optimize engagement of baby boomer employees, managers may do well to show interest in them by inquiring about their work or other key areas of their life.

Bob Nelson: Employee Motivation, Reward, Retention and Recognition Expert, Keynote Speaker


The best methods of motivating employees may be grouped into six sections, each of which are described in detail in the ensuing paragraphs.

1. Effective Communication

There are two key aspects to effective communication for employee motivation

Communication of information that affects an employee’s work

This is essential and would make the employee feel that he belongs to the in-crowd (people who are aware of the happenings at work the moment their colleagues become aware of it). Make it a point to keep your employees up-to-date on things like customer feedback, changing due dates, product improvements, new interaction structures or departmental reporting, and training opportunities. By doing so, your employees would be able to make better decisions about their work as and when there are changes. A good rule to follow would be to share more than you consider necessary, at least till you get the hang of it. If there are employees who would be particularly affected by one or more changes, spend additional time communicating with them in terms of how the change would affect their decisions, job, time allocation and goals.

More attention and an open-door policy

As per information from a 2012 Global Workforce Study, when compared to immediate supervisors, senior managers had a greater role in attracting discretionary effort from employees. The study incorporated close to 90,000 staff from 18 countries. So, it shows that if an employee gets to spend extra time with his boss, he would feel rewarded by the attention.

It is a good idea to initiate an open-door policy so that employees can feel free to share their legitimate ideas, concerns or complaints with their manager(s). Even if an idea cannot be implemented or a particular complaint or concern cannot be resolved wholly to the employee’s expectation, the employee would appreciate the fact that it was looked into or addressed by the management.

Show interest in the employee’s life events by asking about vacation trips, congratulating on a baby’s arrival and things like that.

2. Appreciation

Employees deliver parts of the overall picture and every part is important. So, appreciation of hard work and projects delivered extremely well will make employees feel good about themselves and also valued, while giving them the drive to keep putting in their best. It is good to recognize individual employees as well as show appreciation for all employees as a group when their team effort resulted in some accomplishment. Just a few minutes of recognition can create a great change in an employee’s attitude to work.

Individual Recognition

If a particular employee has accomplished something really exceptional, his manager can

  • invite the employee into his office and personally commend him for the good job, or,
  • send him an email of appreciation or,
  • praise him with a public announcement or,
  • post the employee’s achievement on the bulletin board.

Group Recognition

Here are two ways to show appreciation for the dedication and solid work contributed by the company’s employees as a group:

  • Once in a week, employees can be sent emails, newsletters or updates that let them know their hard work is bearing fruit.
  • A meeting can be held which incorporates talk about how employee efforts are helping the company achieve its goals.

It is okay to be open with employees about room for improvement in their work. However, ideally, it is good to provide employees with more praise than negative feedback.

3. Rewarding Your Employees

Rewarding your employees is a great way to show them just how happy you are with their dedication, impressive behavior (with a customer or client) and outstanding efforts. While on the one hand, an effective reward system will make your employees feel on top of this world, on the other hand, it is also a tool by which you can make known the behaviors or actions which you repeatedly expect from your employees. So a suggestion would be to set aside a certain kind of reward or recognition that comes with specific information about the requirements (or targets) to be achieved to get that reward or recognition. Only a person who performs at the standard or level described in the qualifying criteria would get the reward.

Given below are some ideas for monetary and non-monetary rewards.

Monetary rewards

  • Free lunch/dinner for just the employee or for him and his better half too,
  • Sponsored car wash and a tank of full serve gas,
  • Tickets to a popular sports event.

Non-monetary rewards

  • Allowing the employee to work from home for a day,
  • Letting him come in casual dress on a specific day,
  • A plum assignment – let your employee choose the assignment he can work on next,
  • A vacation day,
  • Another suggestion is to personalize the rewards by thinking about what kind of reward would make a particular employee most happy.

4. Realistic Work Load

The workload for each employee should be balanced and realistic. Too much on an employee’s plate can demotivate him and too little can make him lazy and/or result in attention lapses. To come up with a suitable workload, it would help to analyze how much work an employee usually performs, the work environment, mental and physical requirements for the job and how much time is there on hand to get the work done. Deadlines should be practical too. One can consider encouraging employees to be open about when they feel their workloads are too much for them to bear so that the workloads can be adjusted accordingly.

Apart from the quantity of work, it would be ideal if employees get projects that incorporate aspects of personal interest to them. According to a Philips Work/Life Survey, close to half of the American population (47 percent) claims that the motivation for coming to their present job is the ability to live their passions and this shows in their work.

5. A Pleasant Work Environment

As employees spend a fair amount of their day within the walls of their office, it would really be worth it to make the office look and feel as welcoming and comfortable as possible. When employees feel happy in their work environment, they feel motivated to work. Here are some tips for creating a pleasant work environment:


Keep snacks in the office, and/or ensure there’s enough coffee or tea in the kitchen to help your employees get through the day. One can even consider giving their employees special treats once in a week or month such as pizza or bagels and donuts. Keep in mind that there should be something for the health conscious and weight conscious too.


If harsh fluorescent lights cannot be avoided, one can consider keeping at least a few low watt bulbs that are not as harsh on the eye. In addition, positioning employees close to windows where they can get some natural light and fresh air will make them feel less suffocated.


The temperature in the office should ideally be temperate (neither too cold nor too hot). Very hot or freezing temperatures can have a negative effect on employee motivation.


Employees will look at their walls often. So, it is a great idea to use wall space as a canvas for stuff that motivates such as a few motivational slogans (don’t go overboard with it) or posters that indicate that the company is progressing. It is a nice idea to have a bulletin board where employees can put up birthday cards, pictures or other stuff that they can share with their colleagues.

6. Social Outings and Events

These kinds of events will help the company’s employees get better acquainted with their co-workers and possibly establish friendships with them. The friendly relations thus developed with their colleagues are again, fuel for motivation. Given below are some suggestions for team and social outings and events:

  • Establish a softball league or bowling team: This is great for fostering team spirit as well as colleague-colleague bonding
  • One can allow employees to have lunch together outside, once a month
  • One can encourage employees to join volunteering causes in teams. This again helps in creating team bonding while making the employees feel a sense of satisfaction at doing something for society.

The surprising truth about what motivates us

The power of employee motivation should never be underestimated. Devoting time and effort to improving employee engagement is definitely worth it considering the rewards you’ll reap from doing so, in the long term.

Image credit: Flickr | Mike Lewis under Attribution 2.0 Generic.

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