5 Biggest Motivations for Employees


It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what motivates employees to work productively - with the exception of a paycheck, few businesses truly understand what keeps employees engaged. Your workers want to be able to provide for their families and live comfortably, but also desire to be challenged by and interested in their tasks, appreciated by management, aware of their path to career advancement, and certain that their job is secure for the foreseeable future.

Figuring out the things that motivate your staff can have major implications on productivity, efficiency, employee morale and workplace satisfaction, all things that can push your organization to unparalleled success. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to inspiring your staff, there are a number of things that seem to motivate employees far more than others. And they likely need that push - according to a 2017 survey conducted by Gallup, 85% of employees are not engaged. 

Here are five of the biggest motivators for employees, apart from the most obvious one: compensation. 

1. Challenging and engaging work

When employees don’t feel challenged by their work, it’s natural that they begin to grow tired of their position. There’s nothing motivating about monotony, but achieving amazing results on exciting projects can be a genuine thrill for employees invested in their work. It’s important to provide these opportunities for growth for employees, as engaging work generally translates to engaged employees, who are far more likely to be satisfied with their position. 

Don’t be afraid to offer employees more responsibility, or get them involved in projects that require skills and knowledge they haven’t had the opportunity to exercise in their careers - with any luck, employees will surprise themselves and management, leading to even better work from them  in the future. 

Remember that “challenging” doesn’t equate to piling more on their plates without resources - it’s critical not to overwork or burn out employees who are simply looking to be challenged. It also doesn’t mean piling hugely problematic tasks on people who aren’t equipped to handle it. An engaging, yet challenging task may be to reorganize the way a department is managing projects, for example. Employees who look forward to meaningful work every day will mean reduced turnover, more self-motivated workers, and an overall more efficient and productive workforce. While some boring, monotonous tasks may be necessary, do your best to give staff aspirational challenges along the way. 

2. Opportunities for growth and career advancement

Without the opportunity for advancement, even the most engaging positions can alienate employees. As an employer or manager, it’s your job to understand where your employees would like to be, and help them get there by providing avenues for growth. Understand what your employees are good at, what they’d like to improve, what they’re interested in learning, and where they want to go, and use it to create a roadmap for them. Good employees want to seize opportunities given to them, and they’re more than willing to leave your business if you aren’t providing those opportunities. Offer to pay for additional courses or certification, take employees under your wing, and work closely with workers to help them realize their goals.

3. Transparent communication

Communication is one of the most unappreciated motivators for employees. The more you and your team interact with each other, the closer you become and the more motivated you become to work as a team in order to accomplish collective goals. Improving workplace communication starts with opening up lines of dialogue between you and your employees and encouraging collaboration whenever possible, but also involves a heavy focus on being transparent. Transparency makes your team members feel more secure in their roles and allows them to trust in your leadership at all times - nobody is left in the cold, and every member of your team can rest easy knowing that nothing is being hidden from them.

Promote the flow of open information, encourage team members to engage with one another in work and non-work capacities, and assist employees with solving problems quickly and efficiently. Transparent communication also means working with your employees to improve their performance and advance within the organization, ensuring that everybody has a voice in the decision-making process, offering feedback that can help them grow, as well as always communicating any changes in processes or workplace expectations.

4. Stability and security

Going hand-in-hand with desiring transparent communication is the need for a stable future. Nobody wants to feel like they’re constantly on the brink of being made redundant or losing their job, and it’s your job to realize this. Everybody is motivated by feeling safe and secure - knowing that a paycheck will be arriving every two weeks is comforting and motivates employees to continue working at a productive and efficient clip. As a leader, it’s important to communicate any changes in the landscape or new and emerging threats or situations if and when they happen.

Not only should you address these things as they occur, but you need to ensure that you have a plan of action which will ease the minds of your employees. Whether it’s shifting focus or looking to capitalize on promising new trends, every challenge needs to be met with a (positive) reaction, and employees should be kept in the loop. Nothing chips away at productivity quite like stress, and nothing creates stress like uncertainty - your job is to always lead confidently and with a steady hand. If handled correctly, your employees will notice your fearlessness and rise to the occasion.

5. Everybody wants to be recognized for their efforts

Finally, we arrive at a major motivator for most employees - acknowledgement and recognition. Tying in with communication and stability, recognition is a major factor in how your employees work and relates directly to their workplace satisfaction. According to HubSpot, 69% of employees would work harder if they felt they were better appreciated

It’s critical for leaders to acknowledge when their employees have made significant achievements, letting them know that their efforts truly are appreciated and that these accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without their participation. Knowing that you’ve made a difference at work gives employees a strong sense of accomplishment and lets them know that their future is secure.

As a leader, you must acknowledge exceptional employees and performances, and reward them as you see fit. While not every achievement requires a reward, they can be used to great effect when it comes to motivating teams to work together or for identifying potential leaders. Be sure that you recognize employees on an even basis, as frequently leaving people out can be humiliating and will ultimately serve to alienate employees.

Understand employee engagement and motivation 

It’s not enough to merely understand what drives employees - you also need to be able to view and measure it. Using AI and machine learning, Prodoscore discreetly measures employee productivity in popular workplace applications like office suites, CRM solutions, telephony platforms and more, all with the goal of helping you understand employee productivity and engagement.

Prodoscore assigns each user with a unique productivity score that can be used to better understand how each member of your team is working, allowing you to observe changes in work habits over time and get a better feel for how engaged your employees actually are.

Take the guesswork out of managing your employees and focus on results. Prodoscore makes it possible to replicate top performers, enhance coaching, predict and improve employee performance, strengthen engagement and improve retention by allowing you to better understand how your employees are working.

It’s almost an old cliche that money is not the biggest motivating factor for employees - and it’s a cliche that most of your people would roll their eyes at. But it is true that a combination of the above factors - challenging work, recognition, good communication, and reinforcement of job security - may be just as important as compensation. Make sure you’re improving as a manager with all of the things that can motivate your team, and try to remove demotivating factors such as cumbersome performance review metrics from the mix. Prodoscore will help you see if your efforts are being rewarded by better work in a very short period of time. 

For more information about how you use Prodoscore to identify employee motivators and create a stronger, more productive workforce, get in touch with us today.