Employee ExperiencePerformance

When Money Is Not Enough: How To Motivate Your Employees?

3 key takeaways from this blog:

  • You will learn about different factors that contribute to motivation.
  • You will learn about various motivation types.
  • You will get some tips on how to motivate your employees or coworkers.

First, let us be honest. Money is significant; it is also a crucial aspect of a job. The Cambridge dictionary defines a job as the regular work that a person does to earn money. So, expecting someone to do the work without getting a payment (or other benefits) is against the purpose of being employed. 

Not only does money define having a job, but it is also a huge factor in motivation. To better explain how money influences motivation, we will explain Herzberg’s motivation theory.

Herzberg had the idea that two factors determine motivation in the workplace: hygiene factors and motivation factors. The first group of factors refers to the source of potential dissatisfaction. These factors do not play a role in work satisfaction. But, they dictate whether employees feel dissatisfied or not. To be specific, hygiene factors include a set of 10 elements: company policies and administration, quality of technical supervision, quality of interpersonal relations among peers, subordinates, and superiors, salary, job security, personal life, working conditions, and status.

We will go through a couple of examples to better understand how these factors work. 

Marc works as a teacher – his dream job. He has great colleagues, and the children are great. But, his salary is low. He can’t satisfy his basic needs with the money he earns. Even though Marc is satisfied with his job, relationship with colleagues, and working conditions, his low salary is the source of his frustration and dissatisfaction.

Anna is an engineer. She has some enviable working conditions- remote work, flexible working hours, and earns a good salary. The only downside of her job is her manager. They had some disagreements in the past, so now her manager is passive-aggressive towards her. It makes her uncomfortable and stressed out.

Even though Marc and Anna are satisfied with their jobs, the lack of just one hygiene factor can evoke job dissatisfaction. We can only imagine how unhappy and dissatisfied the employees are in companies that lack several hygiene factors.

So, excluding money or any other hygiene factor from the motivation equation will bring dissatisfaction to your employees. But, having these factors won’t make your employees satisfied.

That’s where motivation factors kick in. These encourage job satisfaction. Having these factors will make your employees pleased with work conditions. And this is what interests us the most – How can we boost job satisfaction in our companies?

Herzberg says six elements impact job satisfaction: achievement, recognition, growth, advancement, responsibility, and the work itself (meaningful and challenging work). Being able to learn and progress at work, being recognized for achievements, and being respected by coworkers will bring joy and a feeling of success to employees. Even a simple “good job” can motivate someone to do better that day. However, a “good job” is not the only motivator we can use. Our motivation is a bit more complex than that.

Besides Herzberg’s theory, which explains motivation through two factors, we will present another theory – Self-Determination Theory (SDT). This theory explains motivation as a continuum- on the left is amotivation (a reduction in the motivation), and on the far right is intrinsic motivation. In between is extrinsic motivation.

We can recognize amotivation by a lack of drive. We go to work because of a habit or because we do not have enough energy or will to change anything. In this state, it is easier for us to go to a job that we hate than to make a change. We feel tired and out of control, as if someone else has control of our lives.

There are four types of extrinsic motivation: external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, and integrated regulation. Their main feature is that they are conditioned by external factors. However, they differ in the level of internalization. While external regulation is 100% defined by external factors, integrated regulation is a part of our value system and is internalized.

Finally, intrinsic motivation is 100% internal. It means that we are self-motivated. The motivation that drives us comes from our enjoyment and satisfaction.

Another focal point of this approach is that needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are essential drivers of motivation. If we do not meet these needs, we will lack motivation.

But how can we explain these terms in the context of motivation? We will look at them through an example.

Company X has strict rules about having friends at work. While at the workplace, their employees are not allowed to talk to each other. Also, their manager gives them thorough instructions on how to do their jobs. They have very little room to change the way they do their tasks. By not being able to change a thing- they can not learn any new skills. Employees of Company X feel restricted.

On the other hand, company Y advocates a different organizational culture. Their employees have a daily get around, where they spend free time and talk to each other. Also, they are involved in creating processes, so every task they have is adapted to their needs. Essentially, employees can change the way they do their day-to-day tasks. This way, they learn new skills, and their knowledge is constantly evolving.

So, who is more satisfied? Employees in company X or Y? If you guessed employees in company Y, you are right! By satisfying their needs for relatedness (daily get around), autonomy (they can adapt how they finish their tasks), and for competence (they learn new skills), employees feel more significant, satisfied, and motivated.

Do your employees feel dull? Try this!

After presenting different approaches, it is time to summarize them through specific tips on how to motivate your employees.

  • Give them autonomy. As mentioned before, autonomy is one of three essential needs when we talk about motivation. So trusting your employees and giving them the possibility to make their own choices and decisions will increase their motivation. Initially, they can be in charge of minor things, such as organizing workload, meetings, etc. But as you build trust in them, you can delegate them more crucial tasks. Micromanaging will kill their will to work.
  • Recognize their effort and achievements. Not everything results in accomplishment. Sometimes, no matter how much we try, we don’t have the desired result. In those moments, words of support mean the world. They will lift the spirit of your employee. And, when there is an achievement, you should celebrate it. Publicly praise your employee. It will make him/her feel respected and recognized. 
  • They should know their purpose. Don’t give tasks to your employees- give them meaning. According to the famous story, when President Kennedy asked a janitor at NASA why he worked so late, the janitor responded – I am helping put a man on the moon. Look at your company, find its purpose and explain to your employees how they contribute to it.
  • Inspire them to connect and support each other. Having good work dynamics and culture can stimulate your employees. Feeling accepted and being a part of a group or a company can motivate a person to be the best they can be.
  • Give them various challenging tasks. If something kills motivation, that is monotony. Imagine working on the same assignment frequently- you would feel worthless. It goes for your employees, too. You can motivate your employees by giving them various challenging and creative tasks.

Author: Ivana Burić

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