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Work Motivation: Optimise Employee Satisfaction and Productivity

7 min read
work motivation

Managing work motivation isn’t always an easy task, especially when employees nowadays are faced with many uncertainties on the world stage. All of this means that HR managers are needing to focus even more attention on employee motivation and how to manage it. After the holidays and in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis this is even more important than ever.

It’s essential that your workers reconnect with the company with force and are not discouraged by external agents. It is true that in recent months we have experienced many changes, such as adjusting to working remotely. In addition, many employees are feeling uncertainty linked to the health crisis.

However, the role of a Human Resources manager becomes especially relevant at this time, since they are in charge of creating strategies and maintaining work motivation within the company.

In this article, we are going to analyse the meaning behind work motivation and what systems one can put in place to improve employee satisfaction.

Work Motivation: Definition & Types

The term “personal motivation” has been used a lot in recent months, especially to promote teleworking. It is something that has become very important recently due to the Coronavirus epidemic. As millions of Britons were forced to begin working from home, the need for personal motivation has never been stronger. Working remotely brings many challenges, so successfully working from home, requires immense discipline and drive.

What is work motivation?

Work motivation, according to the definition of William P. Sexton in his book, Organisation Theories is:

👉 “The process of stimulating an individual to take action that meets some of their needs and achieves a desired goal for the motivator.”

According to a study by the University of Warwick, which analyses happiness and productivity, it indicates that a happy employee is 12% more productive. Also, another Harvard study shows that disgruntled employees can harm team dynamics.

Within the “culture of happiness”, people who are more motivated at work collaborate with each other more, and absenteeism is lower. This is why work motivation is so important because it can change the future of a company for the better.

What types of motivation exist?

According to psychologists Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, two types of work motivation exist:

#1 – Intrinsic Motivation: this is the motivation that comes from the employee himself and is not determined by any external factors. One example of this could be personal satisfaction.

#2 – Extrinsic Motivation: this is the motivation that is increased by external factors that drive the employee to work harder. Examples of this type of work motivation can be anything from a salary increase or recognition in the company.

Key Factors Determining Work Motivation

Perhaps you have never stopped to think about why one employee is more motivated than another or why there are some who are more participatory and contribute more to the company.

It all depends on the people, but also is predominantly dependent on how they feel within the company. The next section will distinguish the main factors that can determine the work motivation of an employee:

Feeling comfortable in your job

On certain occasions, employees don’t feel comfortable in the job they are in. This could either be due to the fact their tasks are not aligned with their skill set or because they don’t feel confident in their abilities.

Having autonomy over your tasks

Employees that have more autonomy over their tasks and have more power when making decisions or when taking on responsibilities may feel more motivated within the workspace. This may be because they feel like an integral part of the team and therefore feel more valued, which therefore motivates them.

Enjoying a good working environment

It is vital that the work environment in your company is positive so that everything flows better and communication between employees is easier. To boost the relationship between employees, you can create after-work events such as weekly activity nights.

Working in good conditions

Employment benefits are important factors in increasing motivation amongst your team. Happy employees are more productive.  A study found that happiness among workers increased sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and their level of accuracy on tasks by 19%. However, working conditions also determine employees’ motivation levels. Ways to motivate employees include an increase in salary, flexible hours, work-life balance, objective bonuses, etc.

Establishing an effective onboarding plan

Ensuring new employees get off to a good start in the company is essential. For this reason, it is vital to have a good onboarding plan for newcomers to the company. It is also important to have a remote onboarding plan, as currently, the majority of onboarding processes are occurring remotely. With an effective onboarding plan, employees will feel integrated and motivated from the offset. This plan not only tries to orient the new workers in the company but also monitors them to see how they are coping and if they are integrating well into the workforce, as well as into the dynamics of the company.

onboarding checklist

5 steps to manage the return to work process and improve work motivation

Work motivation is not just about putting up motivational quotes around the office to improve the productivity of your company. It has to go further than just that, and, for this, you must make a plan to increase motivation through action, not just words.

Here are 7 steps to help you create your work motivation plan for your employees:

Design a professional development plan

Your employees will want to continue training within the company, so as to acquire new skills and to work their way up. To do this, you should offer employees new responsibilities, to enable them to learn and develop. You could also study the possibility of giving them rotating tasks so that they get a more well-rounded understanding of the company and of the work that different employees do.

Encourage communication

To motivate an employee, sometimes you just have to listen to him/her to better get to know what their concerns or aspirations are within the company. By doing this you can offer them advice regarding what they are looking for. To create a safe space where employees feel comfortable approaching their managers, it is essential that workers view their bosses or group leaders as close and accessible. To do this new ideas and suggestions should be constantly encouraged, with an enforced mentality that no idea is not worthy.

Recognise the merits of your employees

Sometimes we focus on pointing out employee mistakes so that they improve from this constructive feedback, but we don’t always remember to congratulate our workers on their achievements.

Recognising merits is a very positive practice. It not only motivates the employee to continue on the path of success, but it also brings out a feeling of happiness and satisfaction within them, and the happier the employee, the better their work.

Establish a training plan

If workers don’t receive the proper training in their jobs, it can lead them to feel frustrated or stagnant. As with better training, comes better task performance.

It’s also true that training opportunities could be sought outside of work, but if we want our workers to be up-to-date and have the appropriate knowledge, we will have to invest working hours into training programmes, enabling them to better themselves.

Offer an emotional salary

Not everything can be paid for with money, but it can be paid in benefits and incentives. This is defined as an emotional salary. More and more companies are standing by the worker’s side and offering them benefits to incentivise them.

Examples of these benefits include flexible hours: which involves companies allowing employees to adjust the time they start work, in order to maintain a better work-life balance. Remember that the greatest capital that a company has is its human capital. Therefore, try to take care of your employees, as this will promote their motivation and commitment to the company.

Use job coaching to motivate employees

Sometimes employee performance can change for different reasons, be it personal or professional. That is why job coaching can help us find the real cause of an employee’s law of motivation. Coaching in the workplace will also equip staff with new tools to help them excel.

What is workplace coaching?

Today, coaching is on the rise and can be applied to many different areas, however, the one that is of relevance to this article is coaching within the work environment.

For this reason, job coaching focuses on helping people by motivating them, so that they can develop within their work environment.

Putting workplace coaching into practice

#1 –Asking the employee about how he/she feels at their job

Communication is essential to be able to detect why an employee may feel unmotivated. To do this, prepare some questions and find a quiet place to talk (it can be outside the office over a coffee).

Some sample questions might be:

  • Are you comfortable with your job?
  • Are you comfortable with the salary you receive?
  • What would you like to do in your job?
  • What are your aspirations within the company?

#2 – Follow up with the employee

After having asked the questions and done your best to help solve the needs of your employees, the next step is to follow up. To do this, you can arrange meetings from time to time to assess how their motivation improves.

In case you do not see an improvement, you can sit down with him/her again and try to understand the reason behind their lack of motivation within the company.

What should we keep in mind when doing job coaching?

  • Not all employees are comfortable within their job or within the company. This can be due to their remuneration package, the hours they work, or the work environment, among other things.
  • We should not judge, since each person is different. Therefore, in order to help we have to listen and try and understand it from the other person’s point of view.
  • Sometimes we find that employees’ lack of motivation is not because of the company, but because of external agents, such as health or financial issues for example.

human capital management software

Use an All-in-one HR program to improve management with your workers

Payroll, contracts, time off, time tracking, shift management, expense, etc. Do these tasks sound familiar to you? You could automate them through Human Resources software, such as Factorial, which offers you a free trial period.

Here’s everything you can get with HR software:

  • Holiday and absence management: control the leaves, absences and vacations of all employees to better organise the workforce.
  • Time tracking and shift management: now the tracking of employee hours will be much easier, faster and safer.
  • Custom HR reports: get interesting data and information and generate reports automatically.
  • Document management: forget paper and store all your employees’ information digitally.
  • Electronic signature: now your employees can sign documents without physically being in the office.
  • Payroll incidents: the HR program records all incidents that affect your company’s payroll.
  • Employee portal: this is a space designed for each employee from where all documents and information can be managed.
  • Organisation chart of your company: Organise the company through an organisation chart that will be very useful for new employees.
  • Recruitment and selection of personnel (ATS): manage to attract talent through a customisable and centralised employment portal.


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