People Management
6 min.

The Secrets of Work Motivation: 5 Key Motivators

Véronique Forest
Last updated on 6 Dec. 2023
Published on 4 May. 2020
Gestionnaire qui offre des avantages à ses employés afin de les motiver à donner le meilleur d'eux-même au travail

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

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To be honest, I don’t entirely agree with that motivational quote, and here’s why: I don’t think  that merely “loving” your job is enough. I think it’s much better to be motivated. Why? Take sunrises, for example. Even though I love them, I’d still rather stay in bed in the morning.

An international study entitled The Multidimensional Work Motivation Scale: Validation evidence in seven languages and nine countries showed that age, gender, work level, industry, and language don’t significantly affect work motivation. As a matter of fact, the two most important factors in employee motivation are work meaningfulness and enjoyment.

Let’s see why managers should make employee motivation one of their top priorities.

Why Work Motivation Matters

To Improve Your Customer Service

Do we really have to convince you that happy, motivated employees are going to be more efficient, smile more, and be more productive? By creating a stimulating workplace, your employees’ experience, and therefore your customers’, will be better. And since the customer service experience is core to your company, you should do everything in your power to make it better every day.

To Reduce Employee Turnover

Training new employees is both costly and time-consuming. Every company should try to reduce their employee turnover. It’s quite simple; motivated employees are less likely to go look for a new job, as they’ll simply want to work for you as long as possible. They’ll become your greatest ambassadors.

To Increase Productivity

Unmotivated employees are costly. They are less efficient and more difficult to work with. Happy employees are usually more efficient and productive. Lack of motivation can have many causes: inadequate challenges, lack of career progression, personal issues, insufficient recognition, etc.

To Each Their Own Motivators

Clearly, people find motivation in different places. Motivation can be personal, monetary, social, or even environmental. Faced with so many different motivators, good managers must learn to adjust their strategies.

Here are 5 types of motivators in the workplace.

Money Alone Does Not Necessarily Bring Happiness

On top of being attractive, salaries should also be fair and balanced. If someone feels that they are not being paid enough for the work they put in, they probably won’t be motivated to try and perform to the best of their abilities. Pay attention to your employees’ needs. Make sure their wage reflects their efforts.

Here at Agendrix, we undergo a performance evaluation every 4 months. This is also where salary matters are discussed. This means we never have to wait until the end of the year to be rewarded for our efforts.

I stayed for some time because of the pay, but I left after less than a year. I could not stand getting paid to do nothing.

Good pay however isn’t always enough to retain one’s employees. And I’m speaking from experience here. Back when I was in college, I had a very lucrative student job. It could even have led to a full-time job in my field. However, the job itself was as boring as it gets. I stayed for some time because of the pay, but I left after less than a year. I could not stand getting paid to do nothing. Money was just not motivating me enough to get me to stay.

An Inspiring Work Culture

An inspiring work culture can go a long way toward improving employees’ motivation. The mission and values of a company have an important impact on their engagement.

Teamwork is also essential. You need to foster good relationships between employees. Plan team building activities on a regular basis. You will have a tight-knit team willing to help out whenever they can. For example, the Agendrix team organizes a special activity every month. During my first week here, we jousted in archery combat. Let’s just say that I quickly realized I would enjoy working with my new colleagues.

A strong organizational culture can really make a difference for your employees. I worked in a retail store where it was really important: team building, insurance, RRSP, really nice discounts, and so on. To this day, I still recommend this employer to a lot of people. They clearly succeeded in making me an ambassador, even long after I left. Treating your employees well is always worth it.

Working Conditions That Reflect Real Life

Work-life balance is more than just a trend. People are really on the lookout for a job where they will be able to lead the lifestyle they want. When it comes to unconventional work schedules, managers must be really flexible if they hope to retain their employees.

I was given the liberty of choosing my own schedule, and they didn’t have to train a new employee again.

Be understanding of your employees’ needs and adapt their schedules to their availability. You have a lot of students in your team? Give them plenty of days off so that they can focus on school work. They’ll appreciate it; they’ll be less likely to quit, they’ll be willing to give you more of their time when they’re not as busy, they’ll be more productive, etc.

I was lucky enough to have really understanding managers throughout my studies. It made studying for my exams so much easier. I must also admit it allowed me to travel a lot. Therefore, I kept the same job for 4 years. I was given the liberty of choosing my own schedule, and they didn’t have to train a new employee again. Win-win.

Employees First

Is your staff unmotivated? Is your turnover rate high? It might be time to look inward to your own management methods. Sometimes, a lack of leadership can be the underlying cause for low employee motivation. Try putting yourself in their shoes.

A bit of recognition makes all the difference.

Improved recognition. Stronger sense of belonging. Better retention.

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Good managers attract good employees.

Maybe you should consider arranging individual meetings. You’ll then be able to address problems as soon as they come up. You’ll also build a strong relationship based on trust.

I can’t stress this enough: communication is key. Be transparent and proactive. If one of your employees tells you something isn’t working and he’s right, find a solution, and fast. Good managers attract good employees. Don’t hesitate to recognize their great work; tell them sincerely. Individual meetings are the perfect opportunity to do so.

Give Them a Chance

Don’t neglect professional development. Some people need to be constantly working towards new goals to stay motivated. An employee asks you for more training? Jump at the opportunity. Mentoring, in-house training, 1:1 coaching session, there are many ways to offer great career development.

On the flipside, lack of challenges, repetitive tasks, or really restrictive management can play a big role in disengagement. Trust your people. Give them responsibilities and learn to delegate tasks. Who knows, you might just find your next manager.

A Meaningful Job

In the end, what really matters is that your employees find their own meaning to their work and that they truly enjoy it. They need to have a purpose. And as I often say: it’s much easier to hold back someone who wants to go hard than to push somebody who doesn’t want to go forward. 😉

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