What Exactly Is Employee Motivation?

Here's How You Can Encourage and Inspire Employee Motivation

Businesswomen working in office
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Motivation is an employee's intrinsic enthusiasm about and drive to accomplish activities related to work. Motivation is the internal drive that causes an individual to decide to take action.

An individual's motivation is influenced by biological, intellectual, social, and emotional factors. As such, motivation is a complex force that can also be influenced by external factors.

How to Encourage Motivation at Work

Every person has activities, events, people, and goals in their life that they find motivating. The trick for employers is to figure out how to inspire employee motivation at work. To create a work environment in which an employee is motivated about their job involves both intrinsically satisfying and extrinsically encouraging factors.

While employers understand that they need to provide a work environment that creates motivation, many fail to understand the significance of motivation in accomplishing the company's mission and vision. Even when they understand the importance of motivation, employers often lack the skill and knowledge to provide a work environment that fosters employee motivation.

That's because, too often, organizations don't pay attention to employee relations, communication, recognition, and involvement issues that are most important to people.

Here are some ways that you can change that.

10 Factors to Encourage Motivation

These are some of the factors that must take place in order for employees to choose motivation at work.

Minimize Rules and Policies for Employee Motivation

The first step in creating a motivating work environment is to stop taking actions that are guaranteed to demotivate people. Three of the top conditions that demotivate employees are not giving workers the tools they need to do their jobs, not telling employees what is expected of them, and bosses that don't listen to underlings.  

6 Guidelines for a Motivating Work Environment

Involve People to Inspire Employee Motivation

Most people want involvement in decisions that affect their work—though some may not want the final accountability. If that's the case, ask yourself why. Have people been punished for decisions they made in the past?

Perhaps organization leaders in the past didn't provide the time, tools, and information needed to make good decisions. Or, have people made decisions that were over-ridden by their managers?

You also have to find out if the people who make decisions and contribute ideas are rewarded and recognized. If not, you need to start acknowledging people no matter what position they hold.

Empower Employees to Get Involved

Use these tips to create a work environment that emphasizes employee motivation through employee involvement.

  • Express the expectation that people should make decisions that will improve their work.
  • Reward and recognize the people who make decisions that create improvements at work.
  • Make all employees aware of your organization's mission, vision, values, goals, and guidelines so they can funnel their involvement in the organization's needed and appropriate directions.
  • Never punish a thoughtful decision—otherwise, it will undermine the employee’s confidence.
  • If you see an employee embark on a course of action you know will fail or cause a problem for a customer, intervene as a coach. Ask questions that help the individual find a better approach. Never allow a person to fail as a way to teach a lesson.

More Helpful Hints

  • If you are genuinely open to ideas and feedback, your employees will know it. 
  • If you are not open to feedback, step back, and ask yourself, "Why?" Almost any decision can be improved with feedback. Allowing for ownership creates motivation and channels energy in the direction that will help your organization succeed overall.

Examine your beliefs about people. The majority of people do not get up in the morning and come to work with the intention of causing problems. When you experience a problem at work, ask yourself the Dr. W. Edwards Deming-attributed question, “What about the work system caused this person to fail?” Instead of issuing blame, this approach will help you solve the fixable problem.