What motivates employees?

We all want a productive workforce, motivated and engaged and achieving great things. It’s not so easy to create such a team, however, no matter how much we may want it. A lot of research has gone into finding out what motivates employees and we’ve listed the top ones for you here:

Responsibility and career advancement are at the top of the list

Thanks to the economic crisis, employees are more worried than ever about advancing their careers as fast as they can to secure themselves in the workplace. This means that confidence in job security and opportunities of advancement will be top of the list of motivators.

By allowing employees to try new roles and push themselves outside of their day-to-day tasks, they can gain a real sense of importance. For example, giving an employee a task that their manager usually does shows them they can achieve more than they previously thought. It also highlights their potential roles in the future of the company for talent management.

Asking employees to swap roles for a while with the intention to grow their skill set is another great way to motivate. Not only are you giving the employees a solid experience base in another role, but you are also breaking up their routine and (hopefully) giving them something to look forward to.

Money isn’t what motivates employees in the long term

Although it is said that money makes the world go round, it only makes it spin for a while. Offering more money will certainly motivate for the short term but if nothing changes within their role employees may begin to feel insecure about why they should be kept on this wage, and they may also get bored. Unfortunately, most people will end up thinking ‘although the money is great, is it worth spending my life bored?’ 48% would prefer to make a difference in their jobs, and 35% would rather have challenging work.

In terms of salary, employees don’t expect miracles and generally people just want a fair wage that pays for the lifestyle they enjoy. If you can defend your monetary decisions and explain this, people are generally far more satisfied with the outcome even if the reward wasn’t as great as they had expected – so long as the job is otherwise rewarding!

Fancy job titles must be backed up by motivating job roles

Changing someone’s job title without a change in role generally means very little to people unless they are looking to move on. A survey by CareerBuilder of 4000 employees recently found that 55% of employees weren’t impressed by a fancy job title, 88% said that salary matters more than a title and interestingly, 18% would value academic reimbursement more than a title.

Flexible working motivates more and more employees

Now, here is where the crux lies. The economic crisis seems to have put an end to employees thinking that money is the best motivator as there was simply no money to give. Now, their job must fit around their lifestyle unless you can pay them a 6 digit sum.

In the same survey, 59% of employees value a flexible schedule more than a title, and a third would rather telecommute. Giving employees the freedom to perform their tasks without the prying eyes of a manager or letting them begin work at a time that suits them allows for a much more balanced, healthy and happy workforce. Whether their job needs to fit around a family or even exercise classes, they will be much more motivated to work on their own terms. Plus, higher motivation links straight to higher productivity. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.

Talk the talk and walk the walk

Higher productivity and motivation can begin with a simple conversation. Asking rather than commanding is a good start. If your boss were to walk around asking opinions on matters and finding out what employees would do in his/her situation, it would really get the brain ticking over. But if your boss is telling you how to deal with every matter, the chances are that you may feel there is no room for manoeuvre or growth.

Another big de-motivating factor are promises or hints to advancement that never come to fruition. Eventually employees will cotton on and realise that you do not have their best interests at heart, moving on to another company that does.

..and don’t forget employee wellbeing

Last but not least, we must not forget how wellbeing programmes can improve productivity and motivation – because they really can! There are so many factors affecting the health and wellbeing of UK employees that there simply isn’t a case for NOT implementing a wellbeing programme. For example, 65,000 people call in sick every week in the UK, one tenth of managers are close to breaking point for stress and directly relating to productivity, three quarters (75%) of workers in London say stress caused directly by their job has prevented them from being able to concentrate. We have even outlined how to implement a wellness programme here.

So, now that you know what you need to do, the Christmas period is a great time to start brainstorming some ideas to boost the productivity through motivating employees come the New Year. Remember that it is a good start just to ask them what they think!