Employee motivation is a complex thing and something most HR professionals have struggled with at some point.
If you’re wondering how to increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and, in turn, business outcomes, you’re not alone.
Psychologists have long debated this topic, and their findings provide a gateway to effective employee management.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the psychology behind employee motivation and dive into the solutions that will make your employees thrive.
Employee motivation theory
To discover employee needs and what makes them tick, we should first look at the very root of motivation.
Frederick Herzberg came up with a Two-Factor Theory to help explain the very phenomenon of what motivates people to action.
He found that specific job characteristics resulted in increased job satisfaction, while certain factors lead to job dissatisfaction:
Through his research, Herzberg found that recognition was one of the top reasons for employee motivation, and (negative) relationships with managers were one of the top demotivators.
So, to increase job satisfaction and motivation, we should eliminate demotivators, right?
According to Herzberg, simply removing any dissatisfying job factors won’t necessarily lead to enhanced performance. It will only, and possibly temporarily, placate the employee.
This is because satisfiers and dissatisfiers are dynamic and subject to constant change.
However, the solution to this problem is more straightforward than it seems.
What you should do instead is concentrate on motivating via effective communication, recognition, and providing growth opportunities.
But what are the best ways for HR professionals to achieve these goals and enhance employee motivation?
Let’s find out.
HR tip #1: Communication supports recognition
With only 15% of workers feeling motivated, the pressure on HR departments is high.
Unmotivated employees are also more likely to resign. In fact. 81% of them are already thinking about quitting their jobs.
In contrast, workers who feel heard and allowed to speak their minds report being 4.6 times more likely to perform better than those whose ideas are ignored.
Employees are more likely to stick around if taken seriously and feel recognized by their organization.
And what all this data is telling us is that communicating successfully with management and colleagues supports employee retention.
In other words, effective communication between teams is crucial.
Luckily, an array of tools can help you create a thriving community of workers and allow them to be heard.
All the tools you need
One way to tackle this could be implementing a digital system where employees can enter comments, ideas, and messages throughout a team or even an entire organization at any time.
Utilizing workflows is the easiest and most effective way to implement this.
They allow for transparency in collaboration, instant project approvals, and tracking of the progress of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
As an example, here at Process Street, our entire company relies heavily on communication.
We also understand the importance of creating an environment where everyone can be heard and recognized, regardless of their seniority.
By making all our internal processes easily accessible to the right people and allowing them to insert commentary, Process Street created a system that simply works.
Our people’s voices are recognized, teamwork becomes more efficient, and all operations can be completed on time.
Ultimately, workflows reduce job dissatisfaction by increasing recognition and making the work more organized and easier to navigate.
Create channels that permit your employees to exchange thoughts, photos, and work-unrelated things.
A simple ‘watercooler-chat’ channel can prove immensely popular.
It mimics an office water cooler experience, conversations, and interactions, making remote work more fun.
And if teams can have fun together, they become more productive, too!
Lastly, remember the importance of effective employee onboarding.
With many employees leaving jobs within the first 3 months, onboarding becomes the starting point for new employee recognition.
Get it right, and employee motivation will skyrocket.
So, to summarize, here are our 5 tips for effective communication:
- Let your employees speak their mind
- Never ignore employee feedback and ideas
- Implement workflows to allow free communication and commentary
- Entertain employees by utilizing Slack and MS Team channels
- Execute effective onboarding strategies
HR tip #2: Grow employee engagement with feedback
As we mentioned earlier, employee motivation is closely linked with retention. But how do we even know if an employee is happy or whether they’re already shopping around for a shiny new job?
Well, this is where surveys come into play.
By creating employee engagement surveys, you can find out some pretty interesting things not only about your employees but also about the effectiveness in which the company operates.
Surveys can help you find issues you may not be aware of and identify problems linked to particular departments, teams, and management.
Moreover, you can compare responses over time to track how metrics change if actions are taken.
Surveys also offer a tangible way of letting your employees know that you care about them and their well-being and that you are involved and willing to make improvements.
This aids employee motivation because it engages people and makes them feel valued.
And, as it turns out, global workforce engagement is staggeringly low, with 80% of employees not engaged at work.
Employee satisfaction and employee engagement
What is the link between employee satisfaction and employee engagement?
Simply put, an engaged employee will generally be a satisfied one, according to William Kahn, who devised a concept known as ’employee engagement theory’, which reads:
“In engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances.”
William Kahn, Professor of Organizational Behavior
Therefore, employee satisfaction and engagement go hand in hand. The main difference is that a satisfied employee doesn’t have to be engaged with their job.
So, where does this lead us?
By striving to produce employee engagement, we may end up with an employee who goes above and beyond, performs better, and achieves targets.
Ensuring that your employees feel listened to and encouraged to provide feedback during onboarding can also make or break a new employee’s job satisfaction.
But deciding to send out surveys is only half the battle. The questions you include in the survey are even more critical.
Here is a selection of questions from an anonymous employee survey workflow Process Street has created:
- My direct manager/supervisor is open and honest with me.
- My manager communicates a clear picture of my team’s direction.
- How aware are you of how the organization is performing versus its goals?
- I am clear on the goals and objectives of the organization.
- I am clear on what is expected of me.
- Do you have any other comments on company communication practices?
These questions deal only with the level of communication within the company.
To fully engage your employees in all aspects of the business, try adding other sections, such as these:
- Rewards and Recognition
- Professional and Personal Growth
- Vision and Values
The answers to these questions will provide insight into the company via the employee’s eyes and allow you to review the processes and operations.
HR tip #3: Share goal setting to fuel performance
We all like to set goals in our personal lives. But what about setting goals to fuel performance at work?
With annual reviews looming over many of us, setting goals (and achieving them) can be intimidating. But goal setting can also grow engagement. According to findings by Gallup, engaged teams significantly increase business profitability.
So how can you improve performance while keeping employees happy?
Connect employee goals with business targets
Your employees will be more motivated if they can see a clear link between their work and the company’s objectives.
This goes back to “personal growth” in the Employee Motivation Theory. Employees want to grow with their company, progress within their roles, and receive salary increases.
And this can only be achieved if the company itself is growing and expanding.
Providing an employee with the knowledge of how they fit the bigger picture can also increase job satisfaction and better performance.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
By constructing a SMART approach to goal setting, you will ensure your employees have a clear understanding of what’s expected and how to get there.
In other words, present employees with goals that are:
- Detailed and focused
- Achievable for them personally
- Relevant to their job description
- Doable in a specific time-frame
HR tip #4: Motivate remote employees
As many businesses continue to embrace hybrid and remote working, it’s useful to remember that the needs of remote workers differ from their office-based counterparts.
That said, keeping employees engaged and motivated remotely may seem more challenging than it is.
Just by letting your staff work from home, you can significantly increase employee well-being and satisfaction.
Moreover, by being innovative and making use of relevant software, you’ll be supporting those who work remotely in a more fruitful way.
All while increasing employee motivation, may we add!
Naturally, working in the comfort of your own home can foster both comfort and uncertainty. To counteract the latter, building a virtual office space fit for collaboration may be just what your employees need.
By using Pages, for instance, you can rest assured that all the company’s files and documents are easily accessible by the whole team, regardless of where they’re based.
Some ways in which you can use Pages are:
- To inform employees about annual leave policies and procedures
- To track business expenses
- To teach company procurement policies and approvals
- To share training documents for each department or team
Cultivate human connection
In a world where human connection is lacking, provide your remote employees with ways to engage and cultivate a sense of belonging.
By organizing virtual events, games, and team activities, you can make your employees less lonely and prevent the feeling of isolation.
Here at Process Street, we all love to take part in escape rooms, Donut chats via Slack, or share a meme or two!
Above all, nurture autonomy
Putting trust in your employees to do their job without micromanaging every step may be the single most important component in building an effective employee motivation strategy.
Imagine sitting in your home-office space, working hard to achieve set goals and objectives, constantly bombarded with calls and messages from your manager.
Not very motivating!
Granting people autonomy and believing in their abilities will not only contribute to job satisfaction but will improve overall performance, too.
HR tip #5: Awards and rewards
Everyone likes to be praised, and, as we already learned, achievements are up there on the Employee Motivation Theory list.
So to boost employee satisfaction and keep those endorphins flowing, think about how you could reward your hard-working staff.
We can think about a few to get you started, so keep on reading!
Employee recognition program
Since people are the most important asset in any company, recognizing their achievements can go a long way in employee retention and overall satisfaction.
By introducing a recognition program, you will:
- Retain your employees for longer
- Offer something to look forward to
- Build a more productive workforce
- Make them happier!
Offer workplace benefits
It goes without saying that providing your employees with benefits is important but consider your offering carefully.
For example, medical insurance may be more useful than pet insurance.
Some other trendy (and useful) employee benefits include:
- Life insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Paid vacation
- Paid medical leave
- Vision coverage
- Unlimited paid time off
Sometimes, there’s nothing more motivating than receiving an unexpected gift.
If your team has worked hard and achieved or exceeded expectations, reward them with special home delivery.
This could be as simple as a thank you card or as fancy as a bottle of wine. Let your imagination run wild!
Say it out loud
A simple mention on the company Slack channel dedicated to employee recognition can motivate people to continue smashing those KPIs.
Especially if you let other employees like and leave their reactions underneath the post.
Perhaps create a dedicated recognition page for all employees to leave their comments on a coworker’s dedication and excellent results.
And that’s it!
Creating an effective employee motivation strategy doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be fun to implement.
By following some of the tips we’ve just shared, you’ll soon be on your way to a happier and more productive workforce.
Which of our HR tips did you like the most? Let us know in the comments down below!