The employment landscape is more competitive than ever, and it can be difficult for a company to find qualified staff to fill all positions. However, increasingly more companies find that simply having the bodies in place is insufficient and that other companies are more productive, innovative, and competitive, even with fewer people.
The difference is employee motivation. Let’s learn why employee motivation is so important.
What is Employee Motivation?
It may be helpful to begin by defining employee motivation. While most of us know what it feels like to not be motivated to complete a job or accomplish a goal, it isn’t always easy to know what motivation looks and feels like for others. Employee motivation is defined by these attitudes:
A motivated employee is enthusiastic about work tasks and goals, displaying keen interest and approval.
A motivated employee brings high energy to the workplace, working quickly and with positivity
Motivated employees are committed to their tasks and goals, fulfilling duties completely and displaying persistence in the face of setbacks
A motivated employee brings creativity to their work, using their own creativity and judgment to help accomplish tasks and move toward shared goals
In other words, motivated employees do more than simply show up and complete their assigned tasks: They work independently and with commitment toward the goals of their team or company and take personal gratification from company successes.
Benefits of Employee Motivation
While motivation is an internal, emotional attitude within the hearts and minds of employees, it has a vast range of tangible benefits for a company and its stakeholders. Some of the many benefits of employee motivation include:
- Higher productivity. The employee who is enthusiastic about a task and approaches it with more energy is more productive than the un-motivated employee, accomplishing more work in the same amount of time. Surveys show that motivated employees are 17% more productive at work.
- Improved performance. An employee committed to accomplishing tasks well and meeting company goals makes fewer errors than an unmotivated employee.
- Improved attendance and retention. Motivated employees have an attendance that is 41% better than un-motivated employees and are up to 87% less likely to leave their jobs. Improving motivation and retention becomes incredibly important because it costs up to 150% of the salary to replace a highly skilled employee.
- More innovation. Employees with creativity and initiative are more innovative. Motivated employees are more likely to find new efficiencies that save time or money, develop new products or solutions they want to share, improve processes and performance, or discover new ways to help their team or company accomplish their goals. The energy and creativity of a motivated employee helps them be innovative toward a wide range of challenges and objectives.
- Better customer service and satisfaction. When motivated employees are in a customer-facing role, they are more likely to provide good customer service and increase customer satisfaction. Employee motivation can improve customer satisfaction by 18% or more and can increase customer loyalty by up to 50%
- Higher profits. Naturally, all of these factors lead to higher profits. Employee motivation increases business profitability by up to 21%.
Employee motivation is essential for businesses that care about productivity, attendance, innovation, and customer satisfaction. Even for companies that are simply watching their margins and looking to increase profitability, employee motivation is the key to unlocking new profits with your existing resources.
In fact, employee motivation is so critical that many people consider it the most important responsibility of a leader and the most vital performance metric of a manager. There are companies where a manager’s job description is to inspire, engage, and motivate their team.
How to Increase Employee Motivation
Studies show that just 35% of US workers consider themselves “engaged” at work. Finding ways to improve motivation is an ongoing job at most successful companies, and a wide range of practices and strategies help boost employee motivation. Here are some of the most successful methods:
- Use anonymous surveys. Surveying employees safely, anonymously, and anonymously can be a great way to find out how they feel about their job, company, and manager. When employees are free to voice their opinions without retaliation, they are likely to share problems and obstacles that prevent their optimal performance and sap their motivation.
- Act impartially. When management receives candid feedback, it can be difficult to not take things personally or react defensively. However, personal feelings of partiality and defensiveness do not help you solve problems on your employees’ behalf. Be open to all criticism, and take it on board to find a solution.
- Use one-on-one time. Surveys are a great way to identify problems within a company, but solving problems is only part of employee motivation. The truth is individual people are motivated by different factors, and it’s important to consider employees as individuals and find rewards that motivate them personally. Some people are motivated by money, while some care more about values and a sense of purpose. Some employees want to map out a long-term career growth strategy, while some simply want an enjoyable and harmonious work life. Speak with employees individually and find out their goals and what they are working toward to help motivate them.
- Support strong teams. While most people at work are unhappy because of their direct supervisor, most people who are happy and motivated at work are happy because of their immediate coworkers and team members. A strong team is worth more than the sum of its parts, and employees who care about and support each other achieve more than employees who “go it alone.” Building and supporting a strong team may mean empowering the team to set its own goals or design its own processes, allowing it to shift tasks and responsibilities when and where needed, or finding incentives that motivate them collectively, like group targets or rewards.
- Advocate for employees. One of the most important and influential things a manager can do is advocate for their team within the company. When a supervisor is willing to elevate problems to senior management, fight to get problems solved and take on challenges on behalf of their subordinates, it shows that you are as motivated and engaged as you want them to be.
- Create a safe and healthy workplace for everyone. A workplace where certain staff have special privileges while others are noticeably disadvantaged may seem like a way to motivate staff to “climb the ladder.” In fact, the opposite is true. In deeply unequal workplaces, where some employees are excluded or treated unfairly, all the employees suffer from discouragement and lack of motivation. Work with HR and other departments to address diversity, inequality, unconscious biases, and other unfair treatment of employees to ensure that you create a work environment where everyone can thrive.
Finally, it is essential to consider that employee motivation doesn’t just benefit the employer and the company: It also benefits the employee themselves. People don’t want to spend their work lives drudging away at jobs they don’t care about, working toward goals that don’t motivate them. A good leader recognizes that supporting their staff helps meet workplace objectives while making people more satisfied at work.
Finding ways to remove obstacles and advocate for employees while solving the problems that hinder them and finding the goals that motivate them creates a workplace full of highly engaged staff.
Motivated employees get more done daily and have a better time. Don’t we all want a workplace like that?