How to motivate employees in 2024

Krista Krumina 27.06.2024
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Understanding how to motivate employees is crucial for business success. Motivated employees are more productive and deliver higher-quality work.

Good leaders unlock employee potential by understanding what motivates them. This may involve offering more competitive pay, making adjustments for job satisfaction, or recognizing when someone’s strengths lie elsewhere.

If you are a business owner or manager, it’s crucial to understand how to motivate your employees. It’s no secret that a motivated employee is better for business than one who lacks drive. Motivated employees tend to have better productivity, produce higher quality work, and are easier to work with.

While some people are naturally highly driven regardless of their organization and role, motivation can sometimes be lacking. In such cases, it’s up to the organization to find ways to motivate their workforce. In this blog post, we will discuss why a more committed team is such a game changer and how to motivate employees as a manager.

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Why motivating your employees matters

Let’s begin with some points on why motivating employees is so crucial to any organization. 

A study on employee engagement found that only 32% of employees are motivated at work. For a manager whose success depends on the productivity of their employees, these statistics don’t exactly inspire confidence.

Disengaged employees cost companies money, while motivated employees are more likely to excel in their jobs. Let’s look at the main benefits of motivating employees and having an engaged staff:

Better work performance

Motivated employees tend to work harder and are more willing to put in extra effort. You will not find them sitting idly, twiddling their thumbs, or trying to shirk their duties – they want to get the job done!

Higher quality of work 

For driven employees, it’s not just about ticking the boxes and delivering the bare minimum quality. They want their output to be of a high standard, and they tend to give more thought to ensuring that. 

Less training and direct management required

Another perk of motivated employees is that they require fewer human resources. When it comes to learning new skills, they will do it more swiftly and not take up much time from other employees. They also require less oversight, and managers will not have to waste time micromanaging them.

How motivation makes a difference: John vs. Peter

Now, how might the difference between a motivated and less motivated employee play out in a real work environment? Let’s look at two hypothetical employees, John and Peter, and their attitudes toward work.

employees that lack motivation in an office

John: I like my job, and I take pride in doing it well. I take care to pay attention to detail and deliver the best I can. I generally receive very positive feedback about my work. Sometimes, in order to meet a deadline, I have to put in some extra hours, but that’s fine – I don’t mind a challenge. I have a good relationship with my management, and they know they can rely on me. I think in a few years, I can transition to a senior role at my company.

Peter: My job is alright—you know, it pays the bills. I do what is asked of me, but sometimes, I get bored and don’t feel like doing much. Last year, I took a few Fridays off and said I was sick when I really just didn’t want to work. I have made some mistakes over the years, but it’s not a big deal since management dealt with them. As long as they pay me, I am okay with this job – I have no better plans at the moment.

Now, there is really no competition between the two when it comes to who is a more valuable employee for their organization. However, what if Peter’s motivation was improved? Let’s look at some ways to motivate employees in the workplace and make them more like John.

How to motivate employees: financial vs. other incentives

Broadly speaking, there are two ways to motivate employees: money or something intangible, such as better work conditions or providing a more enriching work experience. Let’s look at these options in more detail.

Money makes the world spin: financial motivation

Salary

A good salary is the most straightforward motivator. If employees receive a competitive salary that reflects their time and effort, it’s a good reason to perform well. On the other hand, unless they really love their job or have no other options, underpaid employees are unlikely to deliver good value – and might simply leave for greener pastures. 

Bonuses 

Offering monetary bonuses for achieving certain goals is another way to motivate employees. Bonuses can be tied to an individual’s results or the organization’s overall performance in a financial year, for example. Since bonuses can be seen as something “extra,” they are a good way to inspire additional motivation from employees.

employees meditating in an office

Other benefits 

There are also fringe benefits that are not exactly cash in hand but still count as financial benefits – such as staff discounts, company-paid cars or mobile phones, gym memberships, and so on. In addition to offering material benefits, these initiatives show that the organization cares about their employees’ well-being, which can further motivate them.

There’s a but

The answer to motivating employees isn’t always high salaries and bonuses. It just may not be enough.
Data shows that only 4% of workers are motivated by money and benefits. The most motivational factors for employees are a good work-life balance (21%), peer motivation (20%), and an encouraging boss (15%).

data on how to motivate employees best, graph
Source: Squareup

This shows that intrinsic motivation is more important than the monetary. It’s the kind of motivation that’s based on taking pleasure in an activity rather than working towards an external reward. Only when workers are personally interested in the result they can work at their highest potential.

No less important – companies with engaged employees also see lower employee turnover rates. Increasing the employee retention rate is a big deal when you think about how much it costs for the company to hire and train new team members. Employers estimate that replacing an employee can cost the company 3-4x the position’s salary, on average. So, if the salary is $60,000 a year, you may spend $180,000 more to fill that role.

How to motivate a team at the workplace with non-monetary means

Job motivation is strongly influenced by how employees feel about their roles. Are the tasks interesting, dynamic, challenging, and meaningful enough? While it’s often not possible to entirely change the nature of a role for the benefit of an employee, there is usually some wiggle room. Here are a few examples of how.

Enhance and/or enlarge the role

Consider giving employees a greater variety of tasks or allowing them to focus on tasks they prefer – as long as it doesn’t mean someone else is stuck with tasks they don’t like! You could also offer additional training to improve their skill set. The idea is to tailor the job to meet the employee’s needs – as long as it doesn’t negatively impact any non-negotiable business requirements.

Empower employees 

Research suggests that employees tend to be more motivated when they have autonomy and the chance to use their competence – in other words when they feel more in control. You can encourage this by offering work-from-home opportunities on certain days or by giving them more control over matters in their field of expertise. To put it simply: don’t micromanage, and trust them to take charge of their workday.

A woman pointing at a computer screen

Use productivity tools and employee monitoring software

Discussions about performance and motivation can be vague without the right data. This is where modern productivity software comes in. Reliable time tracking provides transparency, which benefits both sides: employers know who thrives and who struggles (and might need extra motivation), and employees can better understand their workflow. 

With DeskTime data insights, you can get a better picture of what your team is doing and pinpoint what each individual needs to unlock their motivation. 

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Offer flexible working hours

After the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work has changed. People aren’t ready to work 9-to-5 anymore, and they value their work-life balance like never before. So, make sure you give what people want—flexibility and being in control of their own time. That may include both work-from-home options and flexible working hours.

Define employee roles

Provide clear communication to your employees regarding what you expect them to do and what they can expect other people to do. This will help your employees work more competently in their individual roles and will give them the feeling of being in control.

Provide constructive and meaningful feedback on a regular basis

Aim to offer regular and helpful feedback to employees in a way that encourages them to be more proactive and productive rather than criticizing them and reducing their motivation. Your feedback doesn’t always have to be positive, but it must always be constructive. Seek to encourage employees and, if they have not achieved a goal, show them methods to improve.

How to motivate your employees using data insights

For an organization, the difference between motivated employees and serial Monday moaners is vast. A motivated workforce can get more done and be easier to work with. For a manager or business owner, keeping a pulse on how driven their staff is should be one of the top priorities.

However, if you see that your employees’ motivation is not quite up there, there are reliable ways to improve it. To make informed decisions, it’s crucial that they are data-driven. That’s why organizations choose DeskTime, which provides precise insights into employee performance. It offers invaluable data to help determine who is procrastinating, distracted, overworked, or lacking motivation. Check out the demo to get an idea of the possibilities DeskTime can open for your organization.

Of course, in some cases, it might turn out that it’s not the right job for an employee despite your best efforts to motivate them – then it might be time to look for a better fit. The bottom line is, as a leader, you need to know how to motivate your employees, understand what drives different people, and how to maximize their potential.

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