I once worked a job that seemingly had everything a person could ask for. I liked my coworkers, the benefits were nice, and I enjoyed the basic aspects of what I did. However, my work motivation suffered at times due to the head of the company. While he was detached from the business, he still enjoyed the perks of being in charge. From an employee’s perspective, I could see everyone around me putting in hard work and dedication, only to get cut off at the knees time and time again.
Is it any wonder there was a lack of motivation for work and that I felt disengaged from it all?
My story is far from unique. Becoming disengaged from work is an all too common occurrence. Some stats show that only 15 percent of workers across the globe feel engaged with what they do.
This is where business leaders need to step up. As John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, explains, “If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning.”
When workers feel no work motivation, they and the company suffer. Low employee engagement leads to low-quality products, increasingly bad attitudes, hostile work environments, more work burnout, poor customer service, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and many more debilitating effects that can cripple a business. Needless to say, as a business leader, it’s up to you to right the ship and work on employee motivation.
In this article, you will learn the following:
- How to increase your employees’ work motivation
- Ways to raise engagement rates, overall productivity, and customer satisfaction
- How to increase revenue for your organization
What is Work Motivation?
A simple way to describe work motivation is the force that propels workers to do their jobs. Work motivation may come in the form of extrinsic motivation, such as pay or benefits. It can also come from intrinsic motivation, where workers believe in the cause of an organization.
Ultimately, work motivation directly affects how people perform in their jobs. A person who feels motivated to come to work each day is emotionally invested in what they do. Because of this, they’re likely to produce higher quality work, get faster results, think more creatively, and be more passionate about their job. Motivation in the workplace also leads to more productivity. As seen in a Hay Group study, employees who felt engaged were 43 percent more productive.
When you combine motivation with ability, you get performance. If you are motivated to do well in your job, it means you’ll likely do better at it.
Why Team Members Lose Work Motivation
- Lack of praise and recognition: When business leaders don’t show employee recognition, workers can quickly feel no motivation at work. People need to know that their work matters. They also need to know how they’re contributing to the company’s mission and bottom line.
- Complex rules: Every company has rules, but having too many leaves employees worried they might violate them. A complex rule set can create confusion and frustration, resulting in a lack of engagement.
- Rewarding everyone in the same way: Top performers are more likely to leave if they see poor performers equally treated. This is because it’s discouraging to put in hard work and extra hours to receive the same praise as someone who did the bare minimum on a project.
- Lack of follow-through on promises: Every leader needs to hold true to their promises. Failure to do so will break trust between executives and team members. It also shows a lack of integrity, which causes employees to lose respect and buy-in.
- Having a toxic boss: You may love the type of work you do, but if you have a toxic boss, they can make every day a struggle. A toxic boss is someone who is often rude, condescending, dismissive, violent, arrogant, and controlling. Such a person can decrease any work motivation you have remaining.
7 Ways to Fix Low Work Motivation
As many workers have difficulties rekindling their motivation, leaders need to step in and show the way. To increase retention and productivity and make your employees’ lives better, the following methods can help get workers more engaged.
1. Make Leadership Changes
Transformational leaders pick the right people, match them to the right jobs, achieve mutual clarity on the desired results, and then they get out of the way and leave the individual with maximum freedom to perform.Brian Tracy
A lack of work motivation often means there’s a problem with leadership. In other words, take a closer look at yourself and your executive leadership team to see where there’s room for improvement.
What kind of results do you get from your leaders? Do they generate successes and wins that get everyone excited, or do their teams struggle to get results and meet deadlines?
Think of this as a job evaluation phase to see what might be going wrong at the top. The very nature of business often means that what happens at the top trickles down to the bottom. Even a group of high performers might not be successful thanks to a toxic boss bringing the team down. Studies have even shown that 75 percent of employees say their bosses are the worst part of their jobs. That leads to no motivation at work.
How to create better leaders:
- Train leaders to have excellent communication skills.
- Place a high value on leading with emotional intelligence.
- Make leadership development an organizational focal point.
- Create a culture where leaders develop at every level, not just when they’re in executive positions.
- Read about leadership and implement suggestions found in helpful books.
- Focus on long-term culture instead of short-term results.
- Practice what you preach by living out your core principles.
2. Develop a Great Work Culture
A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.Ed Catmull
Company culture plays a significant role in employee engagement. While developing your culture takes effort, it’s worth it to ensure everyone feels safe, comfortable, and inspired to do their best work.
If you can create a culture that workers admire, they’ll be excited to come to work each day. Many people look up to businesses like Apple and Google because they emphasize developing a culture that rewards creativity and innovation.
Squarespace is another company that focuses on culture. Within their culture, people feel free to communicate and propose new ideas. Management contributes by encouraging team members to speak up without fear of judgment. By promoting this distinct and open work culture, Squarespace keeps its employees engaged.
How to develop a work culture everyone loves:
- Focus on your core values, so you know what to promote and encourage.
- Set Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) to excite and challenge people in the organization.
- Strive for your company to make history by being the first at something.
- Take concerns and complaints seriously.
- Create a vision for the future that others can look toward with optimism.
3. Rethink the Way You Hire
In determining the right people, the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.Jim Collins
Even with the right leadership, disengagement can still happen when you bring on the wrong people. The hiring process can be fraught with pitfalls, so choosing the right people for your team is anything but easy. But getting this part right is key to maintaining work motivation.
To hire the right people, you need to look beyond qualifications and skillsets. Someone may have all the skills in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your organization’s culture. Poor culture fits can lead to clashes between team members. They may butt heads with their leaders too often. To find a good culture fit, you need to hire those who follow the team’s core values.
You should also look for A-players. These people have an inner drive to succeed and put forth their best work. They seek to become leaders themselves, not out of a need to have power but to help others. A-players love challenges and find it fulfilling to improve every day.
Other qualities of A-players:
- Hold themselves accountable.
- Have a grand vision for their lives.
- Act as servant leaders.
- Orient their lives and careers around ambitious goals.
- Possess a growth mindset.
- Only accept excellence from themselves.
4. Increase Communication
[G]ood healthy communication is impossible without openness, honesty, and vulnerability.Paul Kendall
Another factor contributing to low engagement is communication or, more appropriately, lack thereof. All leaders need to make an effort to build relationships with team members. When business leaders don’t communicate enough appreciation for the work employees do, those workers can end up feeling forgotten or dismissed.
Leaders can also help in their communication efforts by providing real feedback to others. Workers want to know what they’re doing right or where they could improve. By understanding the types of feedback you can give, you will provide constructive, encouraging advice that will help motivate employees.
Above all, keep your communication open and honest. The hedge fund Bridgewater Associates always records its meetings and makes them available to every employee. This strategy provides transparency and lets everyone know how the company operates. Don’t keep team members in the dark. Loop them in and give them the information they need to stay motivated.
Other ways to increase communication:
- Celebrate wins when they happen.
- Set up weekly video meetings for those on a virtual team.
- Ensure everyone is using the same messaging app.
- Provide moments where people can talk about items unrelated to work.
- Encourage frequent contact between employees.
5. Study Servant Leadership and Transformational Leadership
The servant leader believes that my success is your success.Anonymous
Behind every transformational change, you’ll always find a servant leader. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. or even Jesus, a servant leader cares for others and wants to help them. They’re also the ones who inspire change and motivate people to act. In a business sense, servant leaders can increase work motivation.
Take time to study leaders who practice servant leadership. One example is Cheryl Bachelder, who led Popeyes away from the brink of financial failure. During her first year, Bachelder went on a “listening tour” where she listened to the concerns of employees, managers, and customers. By putting their needs first, she elevated the business in the process. As she demonstrates, you get incredible results when you put people and purpose at the center of everything.
This is also a surefire way to create revolutionary change. Leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk created change by casting an ambitious vision onto others, getting them to believe in their mission and improve the world. One of the best ways to motivate your employees is to have them buy into this vision.
How to create a vision statement:
- Focus on why your company exists.
- Visualize what a positive future looks like.
- Start with grand ideas and narrow down from there.
- Continually revise your vision as circumstances change.
- Implement the vision and communicate it to those around you.
- Seek advice from close friends, family, and colleagues.
6. Prevent Burnout Before It Happens
Burnout is nature’s way of telling you you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed.Sam Keen
Employees who are emotionally or physically fatigued will become disengaged. According to FlexJobs, 75 percent of workers have felt burned out at some point. Another survey from Eagle Hill Consulting discovered more than a third of employees said their company isn’t doing anything to help with burnout. Don’t let your employees get fatigued in this way.
When someone burns out, they need time to make a recovery. But equally important is the need to prevent burnout before it happens. Look at each employee’s workload. Take a close look at their KPIs. If it looks like someone has too much on their plate, they likely do. Ease some of that burden, but make sure they know it isn’t happening as a punishment.
Preventing and addressing burnout comes down to communication. If you have a work environment that encourages opening up, workers will be more honest if they feel overloaded and overstressed. Be sure to listen to their concerns and make the necessary changes.
How to address burnout:
- Encourage employees to take time off when they feel burned out so they can recover.
- Allow for mental health days.
- Provide ample vacation time.
- Set reasonable expectations and goals.
- Sit down with each employee regularly to evaluate their workload.
7. Reward People for Their Hard Work
Hard work pays off if you’re patient enough to see it through.Michael Chandler
As mentioned above, when hard work goes unnoticed, people feel neglected. Many end up clocking out mentally and losing their work motivation. Even more worrying is the possibility they’ll become resentful.
You can avoid this by letting people know how much their work matters to you and the company as a whole. Show them the numbers of how the work they did positively affected the business. Did their project proposal lead to a new deal with a client worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Tell them that! People want to know these things.
At the same time, they want rewards for helping out the company. While extrinsic motivation isn’t always better than the intrinsic kind, it still helps out a great deal. Provide raises to top performers. Be fair but generous as long as your organization’s financial situation allows it. It’s a clear way to show how much an employee means to you and the business.
Other possible extrinsic rewards:
- Promotions to a higher position.
- More vacation days.
- Improved benefits.
- Surprise bonuses.
- Access to more company perks.
- Improved work environment.
Having More Motivated Employees Contributes to Your Motivation
There’s nothing quite like an environment full of high energy and positivity. Getting there doesn’t have to be a chore, either. As the leader, you set the tone. If you remain positive and upbeat, others will feed off that. However, if you’re tired, stressed, and overworked, your whole team will reflect that.
You need to strike a balance not just for your team but also for yourself. Balance your personal and professional life. Make sure to set aside time for yourself. Doing this will set an example for others to follow. As you do so, team members will make a note of it. Eventually, you’ll surround yourself with people who thoroughly love coming in to work every day. And when that happens, few things are more satisfying.
Taking these steps will help raise your motivation and the motivation of those around you. With this inspiration, you can celebrate the victories and push forward through rough patches. You’ll also contribute to one another’s well-being and maintain healthy work motivation at all times.
Looking for more inspiration for your team? Check out these motivational quotes on teamwork.