5 Motivators for Today’s Employee and Infographic

Motivators for employees today need to reflect the changing nature of work and the relationship between manager-employee. This isn’t to say that shaping behaviors by use of money, for example, doesn’t have its place in today’s workplace. We know, however, that money is a short-term motivator. It’s not a reliable long-term solution given today’s dynamically changing, complex work environment. Plus the number of disengaged, unhappy employees points the way to finding more longer-term motivators to inspire employees to do great works.

Taking a deeper look at motivating employees, we know now that employees’ overall wellbeing is vital to performance. So it stands to reason that improving employee wellbeing is a useful motivator. While money is important to our wellbeing, most employees adjust their lifestyles over time to the increase in pay or bonus, reducing the benefit to financial wellbeing.

The number of disengaged, unhappy employees points the way to finding more longer-term motivators

So, if wellbeing is important and the overuse of money to motivate peak performance is limited in its influence, then managers must use longer-term motivators. Let’s look at a few useful to motivate employees today.

Meaningful Work

Managers can turn to the work employees do or want to do to motivate peak performance. Individualize work assignments to coincide with employees’ strengths, interests, career aspirations, or development goals.

Spend time having the Me/Mission conversation: helping employees see how what they do supports the company’s mission.

Spend time having the Me/Mission conversation

What makes work meaningful is learning the impact the work has on customers. Managers need to help employees see this to deepen work’s meaning.

Challenging Work

Employees want work that stretches them. In fact Millennials expect it. It is no longer acceptable to save the challenging work only for the usual suspects – a manager’s go-to person. Workloads and shrinking teams demand managers to increase their willingness to assign challenging work to all members of the team, no matter age or experience.

It is no longer acceptable to save the challenging work only for the usual suspects

Mutually Beneficial Work Relationship

Managers need to show employees that they have their best interest in mind. In short, managers need to let employees know they matter. Why? Businesses need maximum contribution from all employees. A mutually beneficial work relationship builds trust and helps teams adapt with agility to changing priorities.

Employees who believe their manager is on their side will be motivated to do their best work.

Optimistic Work Environment

When employees believe that their work has the possibility of improving customers’ lives or that their work is inspiring, optimism can permeate the team culture. Furthermore, an optimistic work environment gives employees hope that they can achieve their own goals, that their work-investment will be rewarded.

An optimistic work environment gives employees hope that they can achieve their own goals

Improve Employees’ Lives

Finally, how motivating it is to do work that improves your own life? I mentioned earlier the importance of wellbeing to motivation. When employees’ wellbeing is positively affected by their work and the workplace, imagine how motivated employees would be to keep a good thing going.

Managers who purposefully lead to positively affect wellbeing signal to employees that they care about them first as a human being and not a resource that can be depleted and replaced.

Managers need to adjust how they motivate employees by using traditional motivators and a combination of items from the above list. Inspiring employees to perform at their best levels is always a manager’s top priority. How managers go about it needs to change to match the nature of work today and the state of today’s workplace.

For a pictorial look at motivating employees today, here’s an infographic from Salesforce and Rypple by Nick Stein.



Image credit: samarttiw / 123RF Stock Photo

Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • Roy Saunderson

    What? No orange veggies or broken off parts of trees?
    Well written Shawn, and a needed refocus as we realize what really motivates and learn how to use the practices and tools of today to reinforce these motivators.

  • Andrea Hypno

    Very good post. I’ll add a link here from my own post on motivating employees.

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