3 min read | 8 September, 2020 By Laura Sands
Do you know what makes your staff tick? This is the fundamental question behind motivation theories.
Figuring out who is motivated by what can be a challenge for HR managers and employers. But with only about a third of employees saying they feel engaged, motivation theory has never been more important.
Motivation theory is the study of understanding what drives a person to work towards a particular goal or outcome. It’s relevant to all of society but is especially important to business and management.
That’s because a motivated employee is more productive, and a more productive employee is more profitable. Indeed, research has shown that happy, motivated employees can increase productivity by around 12%.
So how do you motivate your employees and make them happier in the workplace?
There are numerous branches of motivation theory but at its simplest, it boils down to two factors:
Most people are motivated by a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation factors. As a manager, you must understand what that combination is.
Because we’re all different, there’s no single way to motivate individual workers.
There are assessment tools which help you understand what makes a particular employee tick. But better still is a manager who invests time in getting to know his or her staff. This means they understand the different personalities and can figure out their behaviours.
What tools do employers have to improve motivation?
The biggest difficulty of using motivation theories to get the most out of your staff is that there’s no single approach that works for everyone.
Financial reward may be important for some employees but for others it’s a small part of the puzzle. They may be more motivated by the job itself.
Similarly, incentives can be powerful. But beware, if those incentives appeal to only a few employees there is no impetus for other members of staff to increase their productivity.
Positive incentives such as a bonus or negatives incentive such as fear of being laid off, can affect people in different ways. Some employees will be inspired and go on to achieve while others will be consumed by anxiety which can have a detrimental effect on their productivity.
Ultimately, it’s part of a manager’s job to understand what motivates each employee. It’s not a quick and easy task, but the long-term gains of happy employees and increased productivity outweigh the time and effort of uncovering those motivations.