What is the Primary Driver of Employee Motivation?

Top performers can deliver 400% more productivity than the average performer, a recent study shows.  So, how can the average company transform their workforce to an environment of top performers, and motivate those considered average to elevate their efforts to the next level?

Every person is motivated in different ways, but when it comes down to it, we’re all wired by the same DNA that makes us human.  We took research from several sources to find out what the primary driver of employee motivation really is.

  1. Compensation Incentives

When we refer to monetary incentives that drive employee motivation, we quickly turn our thoughts to salary and hourly rates.  A recent study from Glassdoor indicates that 43% of employees expect a pay raise, and 35% said they would leave a job if they didn’t receive one.  However, dollars and cents are far from the only compensation incentives that drive employee motivation. The same study reports that 79% of employees would prefer new or additional benefits.  Another compensation incentive includes paid leave, and 81% of Americans with a Bachelor’s degree say that companies who offer paid leave better incentivize employee retention and motivation.

  1. Employee Engagement

A study by Dale Carnegie Training noted that “only 29% of employees are fully engaged while 26% are disengaged.” So, how can an organization overcome this pitfall, and what drives true engagement for the average employee? According to William A. Kahn, a sense of meaning within an organization “can be seen as a feeling that one is receiving a return on investments of one’s self”. For employees, these returns can be realized when employees are doing work that challenges them, is varied or is somewhat autonomous. Six out of ten millennials surveyed say they will choose an employee that offers them a sense of purpose.  When companies give their employees a sense of belonging and purpose within the organization, they will perform more effectively and become self-sustainable.  Workers will invest in their own development when they’re incentivized to engage.  This leads us to point number four.

  1. Opportunities in Employee Development

As we stated above, employees expect raises and will be quick to look for a job elsewhere if the opportunity doesn’t arise. If employees feel they’re getting better at their job, becoming more knowledgeable and learning new skills, they shouldn’t be trapped by a metaphoric glass ceiling.  That’s why promoting from within is of utmost importance to keep employees motivated to always improve themselves. Many companies have a tendency to immediately look outside their own walls when it’s time to fill upper-management roles, however, this tactic can send shockwaves of negativity and dissatisfaction throughout the workplace, driving ambitious employees to feel unvalued and unwanted.

  1. Employee Recognition

In today’s corporate world, it is easy for organizations to focus on the product rather the people.  Organizations that invest in high-performing employee recognition programs are some of the most successful, profitable and innovative companies in the world. In fact, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace “highly engaged businesses realize a 17% increase in productivity and a 41% reduction in absenteeism.”  Another survey conducted by SuccessFactors found that the up-and-coming millennial generation want 50% more feedback from their managers and immediate supervisors than previous generations.

  1. Employee Brand

An effective employee brand can convey a sense of excitement that revolves around an outstanding culture.  When an organization builds a brand that encourages freedom and fun, employees’ high morale and energy will stimulate their creativity, collaboration, and innovation. It’s also vital for employees to feel that they are working for a company that focuses on sound morals and ethics.  58% of millennials claim that they would even take a pay cut to work for a company that shares their values.

  1. Work-Life Balance

Some old-timers scoff at the phrase “work-life balance” as it can sound like the lazy man’s excuse to sacrifice hard-work for time off.  However, society has and always will value their time with family and friends more than the hours they spend in the office.  Moreover, the joy of having time-off makes employees feel refreshed when they come back into the office.  This instills a sense of productivity that can be lost when they’re constantly being run down by the mundanity of overworking.  Nowadays, the workforce has realized the importance of work-life integrations, and as millennials continue to dominate the workforce, this matter is becoming the top reason why employees stay engaged in a company. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials, and 88% desire quality work-life integration as a top reason to stay with a company

  1. The “Small Perks”

Sometimes the smallest benefits can make all the difference for employee motivation. Perks like periodic free lunches, discounts from corporate partnerships, casual Fridays, snow days or even occasional travel opportunities will increase employee happiness in such a way that they feel motivated to put in hard work as an appreciation of their business’ offers.