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How to (Effectively) Motivate Employees

Igloo Software

August 16, 2022 · 4 min read

One of the most important things for good managers to do is to motivate their employees. Not just limited to deliverable completion, motivating workers includes more long-term considerations like career paths, skill development, and more. But why is going to all this effort so important, and how should we go about achieving effective workplace motivation? Let’s start with the basics.

Why is workplace motivation important?

Similar to employee engagement, motivation has wide-reaching impacts on factors such as employee retention, productivity, and more. Disengaged employees who are unmotivated harm your organization and do not produce the same quality of work with the same efficiency as engaged and motivated employees. This is why it is crucial for your workplace to be motivated to not only provide value to their team, but stick with the company and align with its vision and goals.

Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation

Motivation can broadly be categorized into two groups: Extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic means that these incentives are external to the employee, such as monetary rewards for doing well, or consequences for poor performance. Intrinsic is the opposite and are incentives that are internal to the person in question, including passion for their work or desire to learn more. The primary difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is that extrinsic factors are controlled by others, while the person being motivated controls intrinsic drive.

Why internal motivation tends to be more effective

According to a study published in the Journal of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, internal motivation is actually the strongest predictor of employee engagement. However, the most common ways that companies try to engage their employees often use external forms of motivation, such as praise or promotions. While these tend to sound more attractive and be more tangible, the research has shown that they usually do not result in strong and long-lasting engagement from workers. Additionally, extrinsic factors are more difficult to keep up and maintain their value.

On the other hand, intrinsic ways of motivating employees tend to see higher rates of engagement and effectiveness, and they are much more sustainable than extrinsic motivators. Sparking internal drive to improve increases employee productivity and leads to much stronger ambition that continues beyond the next reward.

Ways to effectively motivate employees

One of the top characteristics of a great manager is the ability to empower and motivate. Much of the ways that they do this is through intrinsic means, rather than extrinsic means (which is usually taken care of at a higher level by the company through things like pay raises). There are a number of ways that you can incorporate more internal motivation into your leadership and employee coaching style.

  • Build relationships: By creating more meaningful connections between managers and employees, both their work experiences and respect for one another will improve. Feeling good about helping team members is a great intrinsic motivator to drive productivity and collaboration.
  • Push for variety and creativity: Doing the same tasks over and over again day after day can be incredibly demotivating, so encourage workers to take on different types of tasks and think about better ways to go about accomplishing them. Not only will this set them up for more responsibility in the future, but it can also lead to new ideas for optimizing processes or problem solving. This added responsibility and variety gives much more incentive to be actively engaged with their work.
  • Demonstrate purpose and value: One way to make employees feel more connected to their work and company is by showing how their efforts are directly tied to the performance of the organization or a client’s success. By laying out where their contributions have a significant impact, it creates a stronger understanding of the purpose and value of their work and can drive them to provide more value.
  • Encourage autonomy: Micromanaging is a trait of bad managers, and employees appreciate when they are treated like they are capable rather than needing constant supervision. By encouraging more autonomy in their work, it builds trust and rewards initiative, which are both important factors in employee engagement and motivation.
  • Promote healthy work-life balance: Even the most motivated employees can get burnt out, so welcoming and advocating for a healthy work-life balance reduces the likelihood of this becoming an issue. Not only does it help the company by reducing burnout and turnover, but it allows employees to spend more time away from their work and enjoy their work more when they are clocked in.
  • Support career advancement: No one is going to be in the same job position forever, so providing support for their career path and goals is a great way to make them feel cared for. Outside of guiding their intrinsic motivation for the long-term, you are also increasing the chances that they will want to stay with your company and continue their current career path with you longer than they would have otherwise.

While these are some of our top ideas for improving the intrinsic motivation of your employees, there are countless other examples that can be enacted to achieve the same goal. The key is to think about how you can improve the employee experience and build strong connections to their work and coworkers.

Motivate & engage your employees today

One way to build those connections is through a comprehensive and connected digital workplace. If you are ready to boost your employee motivation strategy, get started with a powerful intranet platform like Igloo Software. Built for employee engagement and seamlessly connecting people, it makes motivating and collaborating easy for everyone involved.

Talk to an expert and get started today