Understanding the psychology of employee motivation


While employers and managers are constantly reminded about employee recognition and rewards, they also get extremely frustrated when they go out of their way to invest in rewards but do not see any long term effect on the work.

Most employers think that throwing in some extra money will do all the work on employee motivation. Though money is what probably gets them to the door, it is other things that make them commit to the work they do.

Human beings are way complicated to end all their problems and needs with money alone. However, more than often, it is the little things in life that motivates us to move forward in our life.

Sure, money will get people to work in the short run. However, in the long run when they look back at their life, if the only reason they toiled all their prime age is for money, chances are they are going to be depressed about it. Let us find out what makes a person motivated and committed for a longer time period.

Why employee motivation matters more than ever

There are going to be many unadjustable chances that happen in the market during your tenure. There are going to be a thousand personal problems yelling at you to take a break. There will also be factors at the work place that question your life at all times. When there are so many conflicting aspects in one’s life, rarely is money the reason for people to hang on. People need motivating factors, in tangible and intangible forms to keep them from not giving up.

These motivations should be handed over to people by the ones around them. Motivated employees find reason to work other than mere money thrown at them. They are proved to be more productive that the others too.

Managers first needs to understand their employees in and out to figure out what the motivating factor for each one of them are. Some people are motivated by rewards where as some people are motivated to work when their decisions are respected and not doubted. Reasons for motivation vary from person to person. Finding out what the reasons for motivation are is one of the first things managers have to get done. Out of all the official work of a manager, this might be one of the most challenging as every employee is different and there exists no formula to find the motivating factor in a person.

So, what works?

Though motivation works differently on different people, there are a few worth trying and ones which are proved to work the best.

Make work rewarding

Apart from the money received, people need to know that their work matters. They need to feel like their work has an impact on the final outcome a company creates.

Give employees a chance to move out of their department and take part in general meetings to see what goes outside of their contribution. This gives them a chance to see the side of the company they never see. They get to hear problems, issues, conflicts, achievements, growth, profit, competition and more through meetings and interactions like these. Being a part of the inside makes them feel important.

You could provide a part of the company’s profit to the employee which will encourage employees to work harder as they can see and get the benefit of their work too.

Trust people to do the right thing

Employees are adults and they would like nothing more than be treated like one. When a million restrictions and rules are dumped on employees, they then to feel that someone else have more control over their life than themselves. Even if your aim is to create a uniform working environment, trust your employees in doing the right them and give them their minimum autonomy.

While making a rule a little flexible will witness a few employees take advantage of the new found freedom, the rest of them will use this freedom to find new ways of serving the company. Each human work differently so asking them to stick to a set of rules is a little ineffective and forced.

Give people work that challenges their ability

While having easy work sounds like a treat, it can get really boring when done every day. Throw in challenges and projects in their way and the presence of a new challenging task will get the employees all hyped. Irrespective of the kind of work employees do, throw in some challenging and exciting work which is slightly more difficult that the usual work. This will reboot employees from their monotonous work.

Think carefully about cash bonuses

It is a given that money will get people on their feet and working. However, money alone cannot do this for a long time. While it is best to find alternatives to money to motivate employees into working, cash rewards can also be sparingly used. When given once in a while, employees won’t feel like managers are buying your work or interest. Money is a little impersonal to be a motivating factor, but there are other creative ways of using money to motivate. This can be in the form of giving health benefits, funds for children’s studies, paid holidays and more. This will show an extra effort into your personal needs than throw money randomly at employees.