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Employee Motivation: Tips That Will Inspire Your Team

Some people live for their job while others go to work in order to finance their lives. The company will be able to change little about these attitudes. Even so, motivation can affect employees in both cases. That means that not only those employees who have found their calling in their job but also those who want to achieve top performance can become very valuable employees if given the right incentives. You can find out more about this in this article.

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What Is Employee Motivation?

In HR, employee motivation is understood to include all measures that are intended to make work more appealing for employees. These measures are intended to motivate them to do more than just do their job. They can be roughly divided into hard and soft factors.

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Hard factors are:

  • financial incentives (salary increases, performance-based bonus payments)
  • Promotions
  • Awards (often combined with financial incentives)

The soft factors include:

  • Development of leadership culture in the company
  • Development of leadership guidelines
  • Showing appreciation for an employee’s superior behavior or performance

The hard factors of employee motivation usually initially cost the company money. They promise the individual an immediate advantage if they provide certain services. So it is up to the employee to be motivated to approach their work or to decide that the company’s performance does not seem attractive enough to them.

The soft factors, on the other hand, affect everyday life and do not promise a direct benefit. However, employees prefer to come to work and may voluntarily stay there longer if the atmosphere is good and their supervisor knows the word “thank you”. The two areas are comparable to personal hard and soft skills. Hard skills can be clearly outlined and defined, soft skills are more of a communicative nature.

Happy employees

Why Are Motivated Employees Important?

Management consultant Stan Slap postulated in his work “Bury My Heart at Conference Room B” that managers have to be passionate about their cause in order to be good. This is done by aligning their own personal values with those of the company. You do well when you feel emotionally connected to the company. The same goes for every single employee in the company, not just for top management. The Firstbird study found that money is actually not the biggest motivator at all for employees. This was in relation to a reward set out for recommending a job at an employee’s company.

The highest reward for a referral did not lead to the most referrals. Rather, it was more important for the employees to feel comfortable there and to be able to recommend the position with a clear conscience. It goes even further. The American psychologist Roy Baumeister has proven in numerous studies that the power of the negative is much stronger than that of the positive. With this in mind, unmotivated employees can endanger the team as a whole. Against this background, the motivation of each individual is important for the company’s success and the employer brand.

Motivating Employees With Money – Can It Still Work?

Financial incentives are still common to motivate employees. They are available in the following forms:

  • above average salary
  • salary increases
  • performance-based bonus payments
  • bonuses for special services (e.g. ideas, help with recruiting)

However, the modern employee knows what they are worth. Plus, they can always apply elsewhere to find out. A higher salary can have a motivating effect on a decision to move to the company, but it will not bind anyone to a company in the long term. If the working atmosphere is not right, hardly anyone is willing to work for high “compensation”.

Bonuses are also more suitable for achieving a goal faster and more efficiently in the short term – but they will also not bind employees permanently. However, if a critical project needs to be completed more quickly, then this type of motivation can have a positive effect on the performance of the employees involved.

Continuous education and training as motivators

Offers for personal development are often more motivating than money. The personal development and training budgets are not mentioned in job ads so often for no reason. Personal development can be defined by the company, or the employees are given the opportunity to make suggestions about individual preferences and courses. The advantage of personal development measures as an incentive is that they can be carried out by the company and can address many employees at the same time.

However, this is often not worthwhile for very highly qualified specialists. They themselves know exactly what they need. They will experience more motivation when the company recognizes their efforts and commitment and pays the costs for their courses for them. As an advantage, existing employees can be contractually bound to the company – so the investment is worthwhile for both sides.

Pleasant Workplaces Have a Motivating Effect

Often it is the little things that determine employee motivation. This includes everyday life in the company with everything that it entails. A sensibly furnished, pleasant workplace, coffee, water, fruit in the kitchen, modern equipment and individual design options can make a huge difference. Everyone can set up their workspace as they want to.

Additional offers such as sports courses offered through the company or subsidised team events are fun, strengthen team spirit and make people want to work together. All of this contributes to the fact that the team functions as such and complements each other.

The Effect of the Leadership Style on Employee Motivation

An unmotivated team member can weaken the team spirit, but unfortunately, a supervisor can do that too. Employees who feel they are more competent than their boss will lose interest in their work overtime. A lack of appreciation and a lack of time for the worries, needs, and successes of their employees will do the rest. The collaboration always includes a human component – and the team or department head is responsible for this. If this person responsible is unreliable, continuously finger points, or otherwise creates an uncomfortable atmosphere, the qualified specialists underneath will quickly look for another job. However, it doesn’t take much to have a positive effect on employee motivation as a boss:

  • open, complete and honest communication on an equal footing
  • appreciation for the daily work
  • interest in the employee’s wishes, ideas, and problems
  • a reward for special achievements if the employee did not expect it

Services that the employee has provided for their manager work positively in two ways. When the person in charge finds out what their performance has brought the line manager and his team, it is motivating. The more informed the employee is of this, the more willing they are to perform well again. They must also be able to discuss solution-oriented things with their superior about what to do if things don’t go according to plan. That creates trust and a sense of togetherness.

If individual employees perform particularly well, the supervisor should also be able to grant rewards in individual cases. These can be of a financial nature. The surprise effect plays a major role here – the employee expects a contractually agreed bonus payment. An employee is generally more pleased about a extra special payment, because it is also perceived as a special service. Leeway for supervisors is the key to motivated employees.

Clear opportunities and perspectives create motivation

Many companies work with contractually agreed promotions. If an employee achieves a certain service, they are given the opportunity of a promotion. This concept can also be used as an internal competition if there are several suitable candidates for the next higher position. However, this should be treated with caution, because internal competition can also very quickly become harmful and create an unhealthy competitive situation.

The professional route creates more opportunities. For example, a young professional can initially be hired at junior level and rise to a senior position over the years.

Business team in video conference

Trusted and Flexible Working Hours As Well as Home Office As Motivators

Specialists, in particular, want to be able to develop freely. Made-to-measure training courses can be an option. But they also want the boss’s trust. This helps them to better organize their life outside of work and to work where they are most productive. In other words, to bring your own work-life balance into harmony. That is why models such as trust-based working hours or flexible flexitime have become established. Being able to work from home is now also part of it.

When employees notice that they are trusted and are left to decide where and how they want to work, they will then willingly deliver the required performance. Working hours should be flexible, especially when needed – employees who are able to attend doctor’s appointments or who can accept important deliveries at home are grateful for this freedom and in return more motivated.

Conclusion: Why Every Employee Deserves Motivation

Motivation is important for employees and the company as a whole. Employees feel more comfortable when they approach their work with motivation and look forward to their working day. The company in turn benefits from strong teams that complement each other, from increased productivity, knowledge transfer among each other and from employees who do not turnover as quickly. In contrast, unmotivated employees are downright harmful. They drastically reduce the overall performance of the team and the recruiting costs for an adequate replacement are often higher than the costs for keeping inefficient and unmotivated employees.

Employee motivation no longer results from expensive financial incentives such as high salaries. Rather, it depends on the company culture and healthy teams in which there is togetherness and appreciation. That means sought-after specialists can now be really motivated and also encouraged to stay.

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