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7 Ways To Improve Employee Motivation


Motivation. It’s really the key to productivity in both our personal and career lives. There is an entire area of psychology related to motivation theory, and a lot of research is out there speaking to what actually motivates people to behave in certain ways.


Probably the most famous work on the matter is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which generally states that, once physical needs are satisfied, humans look for “a higher level needs satisfaction,” among those being friendship, self-esteem, and respect by others. To meet these needs, they often look to others to validate their worth and achievements, and/or they are at a point at which internal validation can satisfy.


Related to Maslow’s work are theories about internal and external motivation. A simple example is this: a child may be motivated to work hard in school and get good grades because of a parent`s promise that he will receive some monetary reward. Another external reward may be getting into the college of his choice. Even an “A” on a paper can be considered an external reward.


Internal rewards are those we give ourselves – we pat ourselves on the back when we feel we have done a good job and accomplished something, even though outside others have not recognized us for it. Another example of internal motivation may be to avoid health issues by losing weight and changing to a healthier diet.


In the workplace, motivation is a major factor, if supervisors and managers are to have productive employees who meet organizational goals. And the workplace is vastly different than it was even a decade ago. Motivation is no longer a matter of a paycheck, annual raises, and good benefits. Employees want much more if they are to remain with an organization.


What Motivates Today’s Employees?

Here are eight strategies to improve employee motivation in the current workplace.

  1. Be the Example

  2. Know Your Staff Personally

  3. Be Flexible in Hours and Work Environment When You Can

  4. Promote a Team Mentality – Group Problem-Solving

  5. Promote Health and Safety

  6. Use Technology to Provide Flexible Training

  7. Public Recognition

Bad supervisors and managers do not “practice what they preach.” They have expectations for their employees; they expect those employees to be enthusiastic, honest, have a strong work ethic, and give 100% to their job tasks. If a manager is not enthusiastic, is not willing to roll up his own sleeves when necessary, and cannot be honest and transparent, why should employees be any different? Managers who demonstrate these qualities will engender them in their employees as well. The result will be a greater commitment on the part of people working for that manager.


A 2018 survey by Predictive Index reported that 80% of workers believe that they work harder for a “quality boss” – one who is honest and has a good work ethic himself.


A supervisor who takes the time to know each of his team members on a personal level accomplishes several things. Among the most important is a feeling on the part of the employee that he is valued as more than just someone who completes tasks. The manager who does this will learn about the career goals his employees may have and then make plans to provide for training and development on an individual basis.


Employees are motivated to perform for managers when they believe those managers care.


Wondering The Real Cost Of A Disengaged Construction Workforce? Read more here.


Keeping your highly talented employees is critical to your business goals. Today’s worker is not like their fathers and grandfathers. They do not see that their value lies in clock-punching and simply putting in the years while remaining loyal to a single organization.


And more and more, organizations are accommodating this new workforce by providing for remote work, flexibility in hours, and an environment that is focused on production and task completion, rather than on time spent. Managers who show flexibility of this kind are more likely to retain their team members.


When flexibility is not possible (employees who work specific on-site shifts), move on to the next strategy.


So, there are supervisors who manage employees who must punch a time clock and be on the floor for the total of their shifts. They are usually involved in production. Like an athletic coach, a manager must “be on the field when the players are.” Recognizing their achievements, bringing in an occasional lunch, and listening to them is critical.


But even more important is to involve your employees in decision-making and problem-solving. Hold meetings that revolve around production issues or problems of health and safety on the job. Let everyone’s voice be heard without fear of repercussions, even if those voices may be critical. A lot of issues can be resolved in this manner, and you may find that your employees have solutions you have not even thought of.


And when an employee proposes a solution that is valuable and will work, reward that employee, and do so publicly.


Employees who believe they are heard are far more loyal – loyalty translates to productivity.


James Connors, HR Director for WowGrade, puts it this way: “Running an online business with a diverse group of employees has its challenges. There are always issues with such things as communication, changes in the industry, and more. As we face these issues, we depend upon our staff to provide their input – after all, they are in the trenches and have valuable input.”


This relates to both hourly and exempt employees, and management goals may differ accordingly. But health and safety are extremely important, and your employees must believe that they are important to you too. Consider the following initiatives that you can take.


  • Offer discounted gym memberships for both hourly and exempt employees

  • Have an employee assistance program in place, when employees are experiencing personal issues. These issues impact work productivity, and your efforts to assist show them that they are valued.

  • If physical safety is an important factor, then it is your job to be certain that maximum safety protocols are in place and that every employee understands and follows those protocols. Safety protocols should not be seen as a “hammer” but, rather, as your concern that everyone is in a safe environment.


The days of large group training with a presenter at the front of a room are rapidly declining. This is because a lot of training programs can be delivered through the great technology that is available today. Training modules can be developed that employees can complete on their own time, so long as they meet the completion deadlines that you establish. This demonstrates that you value the schedules and life responsibilities of your employees, by allowing them autonomy in choosing when to complete your required training. And it’s easy to track individual completion of this training.


Bill Barnes, Director of Training and Development for Trust My Paper writing service puts it this way: “Our writers are all remote workers. Conducting physical training is impossible, of course. And yet, academic writing is in constant evolution, and we need to keep our writers fully up to date. Having online training modules that they can access on their own time from wherever they are is the perfect solution.”


This is a no-brainer. Humans respond to being recognized for their achievements, and the more “public” you can make them, the better. No matter what you determine as a reward, the fact that they are recognized among their peers is important.


Again, this related to Maslow’s needs of self-esteem and respect by others.


The Wrap

The psychology of human motivation can be a bit complex but researchers all seem to agree that employees have needs in their workplace and that supervisors and managers can meet those needs with very specific strategies and actions. Be that manager who shows you care; be that manager who employees see as ethical, honest, and enthusiastic; be the manager that employees want to continue to work for.



About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at McEssay and GrabMyEssay. Kristin runs her own FlyWriting blog.

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