A lesson on Workplace Motivation

Studies show that only a small percentage of US workers are engaged at work. The low level of motivation has become a concern among employers and many are keenly aware of its ill effects on business. Many are seeking new ways to increase engagement by pushing for the well-being and happiness of their employees.

To learn more about workplace motivation, checkout this infographic created by Brandeis University’s Online Masters in Project and Program Management program.

A lesson on Workplace Motivation

Workplace Motivation Statistics

According to Gallup’s 2014 State of the American Workplace report, a mere 17.5% of workers are engaged in their jobs compared to 31.5% who are actively disengaged and 51% who are not engaged at all. The level of enthusiasm tends to be directly proportional to age with young people showing the least fervor.

Traditionalists, here defined as being born between 1922 and 1945, have been found to be the most motivated of them all. Individuals belonging to this group showed a 42.2% level of engagement. In contrast, the Millennials were down at the bottom with a score of 28.9%. Those in the group were born from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

Consequences of Low Motivation

It is known that disengaged workers are less productive than average with their apathy resulting in losses of up to half a trillion dollars. On the other hand, dedicated workers are 21% more productive and score 10% higher in customer ratings. They also tend to be 22% more profitable. Motivated individuals pose lower risk to businesses. Hiring them results in 28% less shrinkage, 37% less absenteeism, 41% fewer quality defects, and 48% fewer safety incidents. Successful engagement programs can produce a 240% spike in performance-related business outcomes. In other words, they cause fewer headaches while helping the company achieve its targets.

What Motivates Us?

There are different theories regarding motivation. Some say that high pay equals high job satisfaction but this was disproved in a 2010 study. Increasing salary can only boost emotional well being up to a certain point but it plateaus after that. A few lower-paying jobs have routinely been shown to elicit more satisfaction than many high-paying jobs.

The driving force should be looked into as well. According to research, tangible and foreseeable rewards actually serve to decrease intrinsic motivation for high-interest tasks. On the other hand, rewards increase motivation for low-interest tasks. Employees who are intrinsically motivated are 3x more engaged than those who are extrinsically motivated.

Individual qualities play a huge role as well. It is estimated that as much as 40% of the variability in job satisfaction ratings come from the personality type. Regardless of the salary, it is the more extroverted, emotionally stable, or conscientious people who profess greater fulfillment. Women also tend to edge out men by a small margin.

Management can help things along by exhibiting competence, genuine concern, and adequate support to the employees. People need to feel that their managers care about their well being as much as their performance. More than half say that their relationship with their immediate supervisor is essential to their job satisfaction.

How are Companies Motivating Employees?

Creative solutions are being implemented to increase happiness around the office. Google provides scooter parking stalls, healthy snack bowls, full-service gyms, and free espresso shots. SAS gives childcare discounts, free gym membership, work-life counseling, and onsite health care clinic. Meanwhile, Starbucks takes a more subtle approach that revolves around psychology. Employees are called partners and reminded of their role in a worthwhile mission. Stores are run not as another branch of a massive franchise but as an individual small business. Workers get lab and leadership training.

Ways to Motivate Your Employees

Focus on strengths. Learn their individual strengths and teach them how to use these to their advantage. They will be 6x more likely to show enthusiasm for their job. Individual productivity can rise by 7.8% while team productivity can jump by 12.5%. Enhance well being. Make sure they know that the company has their back through programs like 401(K), community service, social events, health care, and other initiatives. Encourage a healthy lifestyle. They will be less likely to fall ill and take a day off.

Guide people towards greater professional development. The company should give them opportunities for career advancement through skills acquisition and mentoring. Those who participate in these programs tend to stay longer than average as they appreciate their growth as individuals. Encourage contribution in the form of ideas, effort, skills, and other talents. About 60% of workers cited the chances to showcase their abilities as a huge factor in their satisfaction. Getting rewards for these contributions is the icing on the cake. Lastly, ensure that communication channels are always open and that feedback gets the attention it deserves.

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