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Employee Motivation: Why it's Important and how to Improve it

Posted by Damon Ankers on 16-Oct-2019 16:49:00

Employee Motivation

So, what is it that motivates employees to bring their best to the table? 

The first word on most people's lips is of course money, and they wouldn't be wrong! The vast majority of us are indeed working to sustain or enhance our current lifestyle. However, employee motivation often runs much deeper and cannot be sustained purely via a paycheck. UK Salaries continue to rise with average earnings increasing by 3.3% however disengagement in the workplace is still rife with only 17% of UK workers engaged at work according to a report by Gallop

In this article we'll look at the different forms of motivation, the benefits of a motivated workforce, the potential consequences of a demotivated and disengaged team and last but not least how to increase employee motivation within your business. 

What is Employee Motivation? 

Employee motivation refers to the methods used by employers in order to compel employees to give maximum effort to their job. Employee motivation can be characterised by two formats. 

Intrinsic Motivation 

Intrinsic motivation is defined as motivation that comes from the employee, which can be enjoyment of the task in hand, a desire to learn, and a sense of fulfilment upon completing the job. 

Now, at first glance, it’s easy to make the argument that it is down to the employee to feel that intrinsic motivation. However, there are lots of other factors that can determine how prominent intrinsic motivation can be through the completion of a task. Is it a task that carries a lot of responsibility? Do they feel like they have their managers’ confidence when carrying out the task? What kind of rewards will it reap for the business? These are factors that can only be dictated based on levels of responsibility, confidence and long-term benefits. Without any of these, doing what they feel to be a meaningful task with a ‘going through the motions’ vibe, employees may struggle to find that same level of positive energy. 


Extrinsic Motivation 

Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside, a series of rewards that the employer has greater control over and can be received at the end of a successful job. The extrinsic motivation could take the form of an award, a pay rise, access to a company scheme or some other form of recognition. On the opposing level, punishment or disciplinary action can also be used as an extrinsic motivation, with employees motivated to do their best based for fear of losing their jobs. However, if an employee is fearful over how precarious their position is, this could make them less focused and therefore more likely to make mistakes. Positive motivation trumps negative motivation. 


Why Employee Motivation is Important to your Business 

Employees are ultimately the deciders as to how well your business thrives in the marketplace. Without a motivated and engaged workforce output can suffer putting unneeded strain on business departments. This strain can lead to missed deadlines and unhappy customers resulting in business revenue taking a beating. It’s essentially a domino effect. If one domino goes, the others will follow. 

With profitability on the line there's no doubt that disengaged employees are dangerous employees. 

With little to prove and no short-term or long-term incentives to inspire them unmotivated employees will simply go through the motions of completing their tasks with minimum effort and enthusiasm turning their current project into less of a project and more of a formality. A formality that they can afford to work towards at their own pace, procrastinating whenever possible.  

The problem with disengagement is that untreated, it can manifest and spread throughout a department like wild-fire. 


Consequences of Disengaged & Unmotivated Staff 


Negative Atmosphere 

The atmosphere is hardly going to be a positive one if everyone in the office is just counting down the hours until home time. Even if you have employees who can take pride in their work, they can still be impacted by the negative attitude of their colleagues. Penketh Group’s 2018 Workplace Survey revealed that 38% of employees feel hindered in their work by a negative atmosphere. 

This issue can be exacerbated further if management teams fail to spot and act upon employee disengagement in its infancy. Seeing other employees 'coasting' at work and seemingly getting away scot-free can further impact morale and other staff's productivity levels. 


Reduced Business Turnover & Increased Staff Turnover 

In 2018, CB Financial reported that disengaged employees were costing UK businesses between £52-£70 billion in lost productivityAnd it's not just productivity that's suffering either.

CB's report went on to explain that disengaged employees on average sell 20% less than their engaged counterparts and make x100 more errors in their work! 

With the average cost to replace an employee being in the thousands (£12,000 according to accounts and legal and as much as £30,000 according to acas) it's simply not cost efficient to manage disengaged employees out of the business. 

Failing to tackle the cause of the problem head on can have a massive impact on your bottom line and skyrocket recruitment and training costs. 


Benefits of Motivated Employees 


More Motivation, More Effort 

It almost goes without saying that if an employee feels like they are more motivated to carry out their work by the promise of either intrinsic or extrinsic reward, then they will put more effort into not only seeing their work done, but to produce it at the highest standard possible. A survey by CB Financial revealed that the properly motivated employee could increase their productivity by 45%. 


Retain Talent Longer 

If you have employees who feel committed to your company and inclined to give their best, then you won’t have them thinking that the grass could be greener on the other side. In fact, Gethppy revealed that employees who are engaged with their work are 87% more likely to be retained. 


Productive Profiting 

Gallup ran a worldwide survey focused around employee engagement, revealing that organisations with the highest levels for engagement are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable. If your company has a good motivation strategy, you could gain a dominant place in the market. 


How to Increase Employee Motivation 


Encourage Innovation 

Employees may be tasked with specific roles, but they should have the opportunity to bring their own ideas to the table. This ties into the idea of intrinsic motivation as employees are given the opportunity to bring their own ideas to light and could possibly allow the employee to progress even further in the company. So, the encouragement of innovation gives the employees a guiding hand in their own personal development. 


Stronger Communication 

Everyone knows that the hustle and bustle of a workplace can leave very little time for an idle conversation over who made it to the next stage of Britain’s Got Talent. However, when you’re at work, communication is key and it needs to be consistent.

From the board down, management to employees and employee to employee, clarity and consistency of communication is key to productivity.  

Barriers in communication can leave employees feeling unmotivated and disengaged. Tools such as an employee app can reestablish the lines of communication that have become jaded and improve top down communication, promote cross-functional communication and increase engagement. 


Valuing and Securing the Individual 

Employees need to feel valued, not as small cogs in a large machine, but as an individual who knows that their unique contribution to the company is appreciated and that the employer is willing to make use of that skillset as well as develop it.

Employees needs to know that they are doing a good job and can be rest assured in the security of their work. According to the 2018 edition of the report Living to Work, 34% of respondents stated that a major motivator for the other than basic salary was job security, something you need to be able to offer to both newcomers and the old guard. 



It’s never enough to just say to your staff, “This is your job. Get to it.” Employees need to be surrounded by a positive ethos, being able to take pride in the work they are doing and its long-term benefits, working alongside a like-minded team, and of course, the backing and support of their manager. By doing this, you can stand above your competitors and over time, use this cultivated motivation to sway candidates to your mission. 

Communicate & Engage with all Employees via an Employee App 

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Employee Apps are the perfect tool for connecting and engaging with widespread workforce's.

Find out which 6 key App features are revolutionising employee communication. 

Find out more


Topics: Employee engagement