What really motivates employees?

WRITTEN December 17, 2015 Author: Rich Atkins
Motivation is the reason for people’s actions, willingness and goals. Motivation is derived from the word motive which is defined as a need that requires satisfaction. These needs could be wants or desires that are acquired through influence of culture, society, lifestyle, etc. or generally innate. Wikipedia

Motivating Employees

What really motivates employees?

When people are empowered and inspired, they take initiative and even feel a sense of ownership. The Leader’s task is to get them to experience this. Knowing what people really work for is a step toward achieving this goal. Find out what motivates employees.

Characteristics of the modern workforce – what they want from their jobs:

  • Opportunities for Training and Development
  • Challenging and meaningful work
  • Collaborative decision making
  • Compensation, when they increase company profits
  • Organizational recognition (versus recognition by leadership)
  • Two-way communication with leadership

Questions to promote thought and propel your organization to a more motivated workforce:

  • What opportunities do I provide for training and development?
  • How do I ensure that the work my employees do is challenging and meaningful?
  • How can I increase collaborative decision making?
  • When an employee increases company profits/saves company money, what can I do to recognize and reward that behavior?
  • What needs to happen to foster greater two-way communication between employees and leaders?

Consider the Source of Motivation

But of course, you can’t decide what motivates them on your own. It is important to find out by asking in performance appraisals, attitude surveys, and informal conversations. Here are some markers you can use to find out where their motivations are coming from:

Extrinsic
(to earn a reward or avoid punishment)
Intrinsic
(because you like doing it)
Benefits
Job security
Policies
Relationships with coworkers
Salary
Status
Supervision
Work conditions
Achievement
Actual work
Advancement
Growth
Job position
Recognition
Responsibility

Other Best Practices

  • Coach your employees to maximum achievement.
  • Ensure that work is meaningful.
  • Incentive programs mean sharing profits with an employee who makes money for the company.
  • Lead – be visible.
  • Remember the law of expectation “in life, you get what you expect.” Therefore, have confidence in your employees.
  • Reward and recognize beneficial behaviors.
  • Set goals for yourself and them.

When you are managing others, it is a benefit to understand motivation. The best path to understanding your staff, and ultimately their motivation is to communicate clearly and effectively.


This information is from the Improving Communications Leadership and Staff Development training classes curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your overall communication skills, register for one of our upcoming public classes.

Other Sources: Motivates Employees

What Motivates Employees — Found on WSJ.com

14 Highly Effective Ways to Motivate Employees

Motivating Employees — HR360.com

The Power of Praise

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