Motivation is the driving force that pushes and energizes us to channel our efforts in one direction. It’s the proverbial “get-up-and-go” factor; the indefinable impetus that makes us want to do something.
Why Employee Motivation is Important
Employee motivation refers to the factors that drive employees to put their best efforts into their work. Motivated people are industrious, creative, dependable, and thoroughly engaged in what they do. When you find the right ways to motivate your employees, turnover becomes a non-issue and employee productivity soars.
It’s crucial to find ways to keep your employees motivated, for their well-being as well as for the well-being of your company’s longevity and bottom line. Think of it as preventive maintenance—it’s easier to sustain employee motivation than it is to rekindle it.
Two Types of Employee Motivation
Motivating others usually has something to do with meeting a need that they feel inside. Psychologist Abraham Maslow articulated a universally accepted hierarchy of needs to motivate all human beings. His hierarchy is as applicable in the workplace as it’s in all other facets of human experience.
You can inspire motivation in the workplace in one of (or a combination of) two general ways: extrinsically and intrinsically.
What is Extrinsic Employee Motivation?
Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is sparked by external factors such as rewards and recognition. Extrinsic motivation fulfills the two most fundamental human needs, according to Maslow: physiological and safety needs.
What is Intrinsic Employee Motivation?
Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is sparked by internal factors, such as a person’s desire to stay in line with their internal belief systems about the world or about themselves. Intrinsic motivation fulfills the three upper levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
Extrinsic Employee Motivation Tips
Offer Rewards to Employees
Maslow asserted that the two most basic human needs were physiological (food, water, shelter) and safety. Offering your employees extrinsic rewards for good work as a means of workplace motivation can help fulfill these needs.
Rewards can come in many different forms, and you’ll need to discover what makes your team tick to most effectively leverage rewards as a way to motivate your people. Perhaps you could offer a prime parking spot for the employee with the best sales numbers every month. Movie passes, massage gift certificates, casual dress days, or pizza lunches are examples of the kinds of external rewards that your employees might find motivating.
Food and monetary rewards appeal directly to people’s most basic physiological needs, and a gift for a job well done reassures people that they’re safe in their jobs as it gives them physical evidence of their success.
Intrinsic Employee Motivation Tips
Be Generous with Praise and Recognition
Belonging, acceptance, and esteem (both self-esteem and the respect one feels from others) are higher-level human needs.
It doesn’t take much effort to make people feel good about themselves and let them know that they’re doing the right things. Generous praise and recognition for good work as well as words of encouragement go a long way toward maintaining employee motivation.
Foster a Pleasant Work Environment
Make your workplace a happy place to be. Keep a positive attitude yourself and find ways to maintain good energy and positive vibes. Good-spirited competitions, welcome breaks in routine, and structured social interaction are all effective ways to motivate employees and make them feel they belong.
The physical environment makes a difference in employee motivation too. Invest in good lighting, comfortable work stations, and pleasant break rooms. Paint and decorate in cheerful colors. Remember, this is your employees’ home away from home, and it should be a pleasant place where they can look forward to spending time every day.
Allow Job Autonomy
Even higher up the hierarchy of human needs is the need for self-actualization. According to Elizabeth Hopper, of ThoughtCo., “Self-actualization refers to feeling fulfilled, or feeling that we are living up to our potential.”
One of the best ways to help your employees feel fulfilled is to let them do their jobs.
As obvious as this statement sounds, sometimes it’s easier said than done. Managers and business owners have such a vested interest in the company’s success that they can have the tendency to over-manage. You hired your people because they had the skills to do their jobs, so let them rise to the occasion and even find ways to improve processes and results. By doing so, you’ll find that this is one of the best ways to increase motivation in the workplace.
Employee Training and Development
The advantages of training and development for an organization can be enormous, especially when it comes to adopting new processes, technologies and business models. Despite that, in today's rapidly-changing business world, training employees in a one-off manner is not enough. To get the full benefits of employee training and development, organizations need to upskill the workforce continuously. This enables employees to adopt the latest technological developments, which they can use to accelerate development in processes and products.
Keep Pace with Changes in the Industry
Today, organizations need to be nimble enough to keep up with new technologies and ways of doing business. This is why continuous employee training is essential. Further, industries are constantly evolving, along with the rules and regulations they need to adhere to. In order to stay competitive, business leaders need to ensure that their employees are kept up-to-date on the latest developments in their respective industry.
Increase Job Satisfaction and Morale
While training and development provide businesses with many benefits, enabling career growth is one of the best ways to motivate your employees. When people feel that their employer is working to help advance their skills and knowledge, they feel valued. This is a tremendous way to increase morale and ensure that employees are satisfied with their job.
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