5 Things That Aren’t Motivating Your Employees — And What to Do About It

content3It seems like a no-brainer — to get the best work from your employees, you need to make sure they’re properly motivated. But do you understand what really motivates employees? Many managers and business leaders don’t, and their organizations suffer for it.

Motivated employees have the will to work toward their goals, whether organizational or personal. In order to get the most from your employees, you should try to combine the two, so that your employees are working for themselves as well as the company. You might think that offering your employees more money or benefits might motivate them, or you might decide that threatening them with the prospect of poor performance reviews might do the trick. In fact, your employees are most likely to feel motivated when they feel they’re doing meaningful work for an organization that cares about them. Let’s take a look at some of the things that aren’t motivating your employees as much as you think.

1)  Money

Who doesn’t like earning more money? It seems to make a lot of sense that boosting pay or offering bonuses would make an employee more motivated. No one’s saying pay isn’t important — the quickest way to send your employees packing is to not pay them enough, and workers are generally pretty happy to get more money. Giving your employees a bonus or pay raise will make them more productive for a few weeks or months, but within about half a year, your employees will have forgotten the glow of gratitude they felt in the wake of your organization’s largess and you’ll be right back where you started. In fact, researchers believe that those who are most motivated by the prospect of wealth are the least psychologically healthy.

Your employees will be most motivated if they feel the organization really cares about its employees as people. Recognition for accomplishments is another great motivation factor — and it might be the motivating factor in cases where the whole company knows that an employee got a huge bonus because of his or her good work.

2) The Prospect of Poor Performance Reviews

content4To assume that your employees will feel motivated to work hard simply to avoid poor performance reviews is to ignore the simple fact that maybe some employees just don’t care that much about performance reviews. Different people are motivated by different things, and there are many factors that come together to determine whether or not a poor performance review — or a great one, for that matter — is motivating or not. Besides, one employee’s poor performance may not impact the performance of the company as whole very much at all — and he or she may know that.

3) Perks and Benefits

Lots of companies these days are offering more perks and benefits in an effort to keep employees happy and, by keeping them happy, keep them motivated. While the best employees will still look for generous benefits packages and perks like childcare, flexible working arrangements, onsite gyms and recreational facilities, these benefits aren’t really tied to high performance. Instead, employees who take pride in their work and feel that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves are more likely to stay motivated and happy in their jobs. Motivational speakers are a tool many companies use to keep their employees feeling excited about their organizations and jobs; find a motivational speaker to speak to your employees on a regular basis in addition to, but not instead of, offering them competitive benefits and perks.

4) An Employee’s Own Inherent Intelligence

Every manager wants smart team members, because smart people are more adaptable and generally easier to work with. But don’t make the mistake of assuming your inherently smart employees are also inherently motivated. Smart people get frustrated and bored just as often, if not more often, than their less intelligent counterparts. Unless you give your smart employees the chance to work towards goals that interest them, they’ll lose interest in their work and productivity will suffer. Find out what your employees want to do to help further the company’s interests and what parts of their jobs are most interesting to them, so you can offer them work they find engaging.

5) Avoiding Conflict

It’s tempting, even for people in a supervisory position, to prioritize being likeable over addressing problematic behavior from an employee. The truth is a problematic employee isn’t going to become more motivated because you ignored his or her troublesome behavior. In fact, addressing the behavior as soon as possible, and helping the employee work toward a solution if advisable, is the best way to both resolve the behavior issue and restore the employee’s motivation.

When it comes to keeping employees motivated, many leaders are laboring under some common misconceptions. Know the truth about what keeps your employees motivated, so your team can stay as happy and productive as possible.