Employee motivation

What is employees motivation in the workplace:

Employees motivation is a term used to discuss an individual’s desire and energy towards a certain goal. It may refer to getting the employee actively engaged with the task at work, emotionally attached with the job role or by impacting on their general attitude towards work.

Employee motivation refers to providing employees with ample opportunities that they can explore in their roles at work. It is the responsibility of the management to encourage employees in order to remain engaged and motivated towards carrying out their responsibilities in an efficient manner. It can also be said to be a tool that acts as an added force in terms of increasing the output generated by employees.

Employee motivation is an important aspect of employee retention. A disengaged workforce would not be emotionally attached or connected with their role at work and are unlikely to remain loyal towards the company. Employee motivation therefore increases the level of job satisfaction among employees, which ultimately results in them remaining loyal towards their company. Employee motivation improves the performance of each and every employee at work.

Employee motivation is not to be confused with employee morale.

Employee morale, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “morale defined as a confidence and sense of being at ease among one’s co-workers,” while Motivation Refinery explains that motivation is “the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for acting.”

Why is employee motivation important in the workplace:

The act of motivating employees in the workplace is important for several reasons.

First, it allows an organization to retain its valuable personnel by encouraging them to remain interested in their work and remain loyal towards their company.

Secondly, it provides positive reinforcement in terms of creating a good working environment amongst peers and management which improves the overall productivity of the workforce.

Thirdly, it works as a tool in improving the overall performance of each and every employee.

What is job satisfaction:

Job satisfaction is an emotional state of mind experienced by an individual who views their job as interesting and rewarding. An individual may experience job satisfaction even if they do not particularly enjoy all aspects of their jobs or work environment. Job satisfaction is a relative term and an individual’s experience of it can vary depending on several factors.

For example, job satisfaction may be experienced by one employee who was laid off from their prior job but found a new position that provided them with interesting tasks to complete as well as good salary and benefits. In comparison, an individual working as a cashier at a local grocery store may not experience the same level of job satisfaction when compared with that of the former individual.

Different factors can affect an individual’s perceived level of job satisfaction, including salary and benefits, working conditions, co-workers and work environment, relationship with supervisors etc.

How does Employee Motivation Improve Performance?

Employee motivation can improve performance in many ways.  For example, when workers are driven with the desire to achieve something bigger than themselves, they tend to be more driven and motivated towards their work.  A clear incentive or reward system for good performance keeps employees motivated and working towards achieving their set goals. Empowerment of employees keeps them engaged in the job. When employees feel that they have a say in their development, it motivates them to work harder and achieve more at work.

Employee motivation is necessary for any organization to achieve its goals.  It not only increases productivity but can also build a strong organization, which is able to tap the full potential of every employee.  A motivated workforce will be more innovative, come up with new ideas that are helpful for the company and work towards achieving success together as a team.

What are some ways employees can motivate themselves?

There are many ways employees can motivate themselves, including:

  • Self-efficacy – how much self-confidence and belief someone has in their own ability to complete a task.
  • Challenges – novel and stimulating work goals that encourage growth and development.
  • Directives from other people – advice, feedback, suggestions.
  • Feedback – seeing whether progress is made; knowing successes and failures.
  • Feedback from other people – in major projects, you can work with several teams in different locations Learning new skills in one’s own time.
  • Personal meaning – finding out what the job means to us, why it is important to us.

Short Online Courses

What are some examples of positive motivation?

There are many ways to provide positive motivation. Some examples include:

  • Praising employees for good work
  • Providing opportunities for personal development
  • Ensuring that employees have clear goals
  • Providing feedback on employees’ performance
  • Paying employees fairly
  • Providing a good working environment

What are some examples of negative motivation?

There are many ways to provide negative motivation. Some examples include:

  • Not giving employees any praise for good work and ignoring their mistakes
  • Focusing on negative feedback and not providing positive feedback
  • Not having clear goals
  • Setting unachievable goals
  • Putting people down for no reason
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work

What are the key components to workplace motivation?

Workplace motivation can be broken down into four components:  employee perceptions, company policies and practices, job design and the dynamics of the work environment.

What is employee perception?

An employee’s perception is how they see things around them when it comes to their job. Their perception is based on their own thoughts, feelings and experiences with the company.  A key element of perception is how employees feel about their jobs, whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with them and how much commitment they have toward the organization.

How do company policies affect workplace motivation?

Company policies can be a major factor in motivating employees. Policies that promote fairness motivate employees to perform well because they believe they will be rewarded in a fair manner.  However, when the policies only benefit the company and not the employees (such as relying on their labour or taking away benefits), employees lose motivation.

What is job design?

Job design refers to how tasks are set out in a job. The way your role fits into your company and what you are required to do determines your motivation.  For example, you will be more motivated if you enjoy your role or feel that it is important for the company.

What does research show about the dynamics of the work environment?

Research has shown that emotions play a significant role in determining employee motivation and job satisfaction. People who are able to manage their emotions are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Employee Motivation Statistics to Silence Naysayers:

Surveys have revealed that many people who are unhappy with their jobs say they wish they had more motivation at work.  However, only 31 percent of employees think their managers do a good job motivating them.

According to one study, 60 percent of surveyed workers said they would stay with the company if management was more supportive. Only 9 percent said they would stay if their pay was higher.

In addition, a study by Office Team found that 39 percent of employees believe their company should focus more on motivating employees to improve performance.

What does this tell us? Clearly, there is still much room for improvement when it comes to motivation in the workplace, but it starts with the company itself.


What are the main motivation theories?

The expectancy theory:

Also known as the equity theory , was developed by Victor Vroom and states that people will remain motivated for an activity if they believe their effort can make a difference.

If you receive high grades, regardless of how hard you worked, it is due to luck and not because of your efforts (other factors were at play).

The reinforcement theory:

It was created by Edward Thorndike in 1911 and is based on operant conditioning. It states that people repeat behaviours if they are either positively or negatively reinforced for their actions.

If you have worked really hard in school to pass an exam but still fail, this may lead you to believe that the subject wasn’t meant to be studied and gives up.

The equity theory:

Developed by J. Stacy Adams in 1963, states that people will only perform activities if they either feel it is fair (equity) or to reduce inequities (inequity). For example, workers may not see the benefits of working harder/longer hours if their colleagues get the same pay and benefits.

The goal-setting theory:

Developed by Edwin Locke in 1968, states that people will work harder when they have clear goals to reach.

It was found that students who were given a specific task along with a reward for achieving a high score in their exam worked harder than those who had only been given a general task.


Why have these been adopted?

These have been adopted as they allow people to achieve a higher standard of work by setting clear goals, rewarding their hard work/effort and ensuring that other factors are not stopping others from achieving their goals.

For example, managers can set clear targets for employees to reach and monitor individuals’ progress along the way, offer incentives/bonuses for good work and ensure that there is no unfair bias towards one or more people.

What does each motivation theory say about performance?

The expectancy theory:

People will remain motivated and work harder, if they believe that their effort can make a difference. If you receive high grades, regardless of how hard you worked, it is due to luck and not because of your efforts (other factors were at play).

The reinforcement theory:

People repeat behaviours if they are either positively or negatively reinforced for their actions. If you have worked really hard in school to pass an exam but still fail, this may lead you to believe that the subject wasn’t meant to be studied and gives up.

The equity theory:

People will only perform activities if they either feel it is fair (equity) or to reduce inequities (inequity). For example, workers may not see the benefits of working harder/longer hours if their colleagues get the same pay and benefits. The goal-setting theory:

People will work harder when they have clear goals to reach. It was found that students who were given a specific task along with a reward for achieving a high score in their exam worked harder than those who had only been given a general task.

What are the main methods used to motivate employees?

  1. Rewarding good performance:

People will work harder if they receive bonuses, pay rises or praise for their work. This is known as extrinsic motivation.

  1. Ensuring fairness in the workplace:

People will work harder if they feel that their colleagues are being rewarded fairly. For example, workers may be more productive when the rewards for good performance are shared equally between them all.

  1. Ensuring employees have a clear line of sight:

People will only carry out tasks to a satisfactory level if they can see how it is beneficial in the long term. For example, children will only do their homework if they know that it is for their future career/college/university application process.

  1. Providing autonomy:

People work harder when they are given more control over how they do their job and what work to prioritise. For example, employees may want to set their own deadlines in order to complete their work.

  1. Highlighting the importance of the task:

People will work harder if they understand how important it is to complete a certain task. For example, by highlighting how the work you are doing contributes directly to your company’s financial bottom line or reputation within the industry, employees may be more motivated to perform well.

  1. Encouraging team work:

People will work harder if they have a group of people they work with and think their contribution is valued by the group. For example, projects may be completed faster and to a higher standard when teamwork is encouraged.

  1. Maximising employees’ abilities:

When employees are given the right tools to do their job, they will be motivated to work harder. For example, employees who have access to communication technology (such as email) may be more likely to complete tasks on time if they can get in touch with people quickly/easily.

  1. Providing clear outcomes:

People need to know what the end result is before they are motivated to work towards it. For example, employees in a restaurant may be motivated to work harder when they understand what the ultimate goal of their job is (i.e. creating great customer experiences).

  1. Focusing on strengths:

People will work harder if they are given opportunities to use their unique strengths and abilities. For example, employees who are working in roles within their area of expertise may be more productive than those who do not feel comfortable with the work they are doing.

  1. Rewarding creativity:

People will work harder if they can express themselves creatively whilst completing a task. It has been found that people tend to put in more work when they can use their imagination or creativity to complete a task. For example, software developers may be motivated to produce high-quality code if they are allowed to design the best solution using their own creativity and ideas.

  1. Providing immediate feedback:

People will work harder if they receive regular feedback from managers/supervisors about how they are doing. For example, employees may be more motivated to produce high-quality work if their manager provides them with regular feedback about their performance during the task.

  1. Offering coaching/mentoring:

People will work harder if their manager is providing them with support and guidance on how they can improve in the future. For example, employees may be more productive if their manager provides them with support and guidance on how to do work as well as possible.

Short Online Courses

Motivating factors:

There are various ways in which managers can motivate employees including:

Increased pay and benefits – A great motivator for some but not all, this method tends to work best when employees feel they are underpaid in comparison with others in similar jobs.

Incentives – Rewarding employees for good performance, such as bonuses and pay rises can motivate them to produce more work. This incentive should be linked to the specific task that was performed well .

Frequent praise – Reassuring employees that they are doing a good job by thanking and praising them, also by rewarding them when they have done well.

Job enrichment – Giving employees more autonomy and control over the work they do can make it more interesting and challenging which would in turn motivate them to perform better. This should be linked to their skills and abilities .


As mentioned above, rewards can be used to motivate employees and there are various types that exist.

Intrinsic : When we do something because we find it enjoyable and satisfying regardless of any external factors such as money or fame.

Extrinsic: Motivation by an outside factor such as money, praise etc. These will vary in their strength depending on how likely it is that we will get them and whether they are seen as having value .

Financial rewards:

This can consist of basic pay , bonuses or commission on sales. For many, financial incentives provide a good reason to work harder and aim for higher targets. However money should not always be the main motivation for employees and employers need to be careful not to over-rely on this type of reward.

Praise and recognition:

As mentioned above, giving praise or rewards when employees have done well can motivate them to produce high quality work. When managers give more meaningful rewards they are likely to receive more valued results . For example if an employee is praised for completing a task within a set time period, they may be more inclined to do it quickly again. This could become a problem if it is done too often and the employee becomes desensitized to how good their work is .

Another important factor in motivation is that we tend to need increasingly higher levels of reward or praise as we get older . For example while money might motivate a young adult, as they get older it might become less important. This is why managers should use different types of reward for their staff .

Internal rewards:

As mentioned earlier, this refers to what motivates us from within and these rewards tend to have a longer term effect. Some examples of internal rewards include things such as a sense of accomplishment, the feeling of being in control and making progress .

External rewards:

These are what we might typically think of as rewards. They include things such as money, extra holidays or even trophies for winning races. These can be very effective ways to reward employees but should still be linked to their performance otherwise they may become meaningless . When managers use rewards they should be fair and based on rewarding employees for their efforts or contributions rather than just giving them things to try and satisfy them .

Effects of the wrong motivation:

Motivating employees is one of the most important aspects of managing. If managers fail to motivate their staff they are likely to experience more problems such as low productivity, high turnover rates and high levels of staff stress.

Problems associated with too much motivation:

This can cause employees to become overworked and stressed. This is particularly true for financial rewards as the pressure of meeting targets will lead to more stress, affecting their health and wellbeing . Job enrichment can also be problematic if it leads to an employee becoming over-confident and ignoring the advice of their manager .

Problems associated with too little motivation:

Lower levels of motivation can lead to employers seeing a loss in profits from lower productivity, but also from higher levels of staff turnover. This is particularly true when employees have been motivated by extrinsic factors such as bonuses and commission on sales which they will lose if they leave the company.


Managers should firstly identify what motivates their employees . It may be that they are motivated by financial rewards or praise and recognition, but it could also be that they are more self-motivated . Once this has been identified managers should use different types of motivation to try and maintain an interest from their staff. For example, they could start by using financial incentives to try and increase productivity but then switch to more intrinsic rewards such as praise when this does not work . This might also be a good time to include the employees in decision making, giving them greater control over what they do.

When managing different types of motivation it is important that managers do not try and motivate each employee completely differently, as this is likely to be less effective. It is better to use similar types of motivation for all employees . For example providing financial incentives such as bonuses or commission will work for most people, but it could cause problems if used with the wrong person.

Some more tips:

1) Try and get to know your employees and find out what motivates them . This will allow you to tailor your motivation strategies to each individual.

2) When you provide rewards try and make sure that they are linked to the effort or performance of each employee rather than just giving them things because they like them (e.g people who like sports might appreciate a free gym membership but they are likely to prefer a monetary reward).

3) If you are having problems with motivation try drawing up targets which are specific, achievable and have a time frame. This means that employees will feel as though they are making progress but still be able to reach their goals .

4) Try giving employees more responsibility for their tasks. This will allow them to feel more involved in what they do and so be more motivated .

5) Include employees in decision making whenever possible. This will give them a greater sense of control over their jobs and therefore increase motivation.

6) Be clear about which behaviours you want from each employee and the consequences of not complying with this behaviour . This will make it easier for employees to see what you expect of them.

7) Make sure that rewards are immediate . This is particularly important for money as this may be the only reward that some employees receive.

8) Think carefully about how you deal with low performance . If you punish people too severely there is a danger that they will become resentful or dis-engaged, but if you are too lenient they may not improve .


Recap and Conclusion:

What’s important to remember is that all of the factors discussed above need to be considered in order to motivate employees.  Good management will play a role in motivating employees.  Managers need to set out clear goals, provide feedback and ensure that the work environment is healthy.

The author tells us that motivation can come from many sources, but the two biggest factors are company policies and the dynamics of the work environment. The importance of these factors is made evident as we read through examples detailing negative workplace motivation. In addition to recognizing problems within a company, managers should put into practice strategies that support their workforce and create a productive environment.

The author finishes by summarizing that all of these factors contribute to workplace motivation. A manager’s role often includes providing clear goals, feedback and fostering a healthy work environment to ensure their employees are motivated and performing at an optimal level.

In summary There are various different strategies that managers can use to motivate their employees. Some of these strategies include: providing clear job descriptions, creating a sense of fairness in the workplace, rewarding good work and ensuring employees have a line of sight into how their work is beneficial for future success. Furthermore, most successful managers understand that people will always be motivated from within instead of having motivations imposed upon them.

We can see that different factors come into play when employees are trying to make themselves more productive; however, it is perhaps more difficult for managers to determine what motivates their team members. This is why investing time in your workforce will help you gain a better understanding of how to create more productive teams and improve overall workplace culture.



Similar Posts