Top 10 Work Motivators for Employees in 2023

8 min read

Employee work motivators have changed drastically in the last few years.

The rapid onset of remote work (while a blessing for many) has come with various challenges for employees and HR, especially against the backdrop of a global pandemic and turbulent economy.  

With only 21% of global employees engaged at work in 2022, we’re no longer asking “how to motivate a millennial at work?” but how to provide comprehensive solutions that motivate the entire workforce.

In this blog post, we go beyond bean bags, stocked-up fridges and ping pong tables and show you how to keep your employees happy, healthy and motivated… without breaking the bank. Yay! 

Table of Contents

What causes a lack of motivation at work? 

Multiple factors cause a lack of motivation at work, with stress, mental health, personal issues, and unexpected (or even planned!) life changes among the main culprits.

But feeling unchallenged, finding no purpose in a role, and seeing no future for growth can also contribute to a lack of work motivation. 

Why is employee motivation so important? 

Employee motivation is important because it builds a positive foundation for employee satisfaction and engagement, leading to increased productivity and workforce retention. 

Research conducted by Gallup suggests: 

“Highly engaged teams are 14% to 18% more productive than low engagement teams, on average.”

Meanwhile, “low engagement teams typically endure turnover rates that are 18% to 43% higher than highly engaged teams.”

As an HR manager, ensuring your employees aren’t asking themselves “why am I not motivated to work?” is vital as it impacts their well-being, productivity and the company’s bottom line.

How to regain motivation at work for employees

Regaining motivation at work for your employees can feel challenging. If your workforce displays little or no motivation at work, it’s easy to assume they’re disinterested in the role, have a poor work ethic, or have a poor attitude. 

Of course, there can be bad apples, but a lack of work motivation doesn’t always come from a bad place. Your employee might have experienced the loss of a loved one, be facing mental ill-health, or have other significant challenges inside or outside the workplace. 

That’s why you must do your due diligence as an HR manager.

So let’s explore how to overcome lack of motivation at work for your employees in 10 ways.

1. Recognition 

A little recognition for a job well done goes a long way to helping employees feel valued.

Moreover, recognition encourages your team to be more receptive to constructive feedback about their work.

Employee rewards don’t have to break the bank.

Small gestures like handwritten notes or taking the team out for lunch to celebrate an achievement makes all the difference.

While leaving work motivators like recognition until quarterly reviews is tempting, this can quickly breed resentment, especially if you forget specific achievements or details.

For lasting effect, recognize your employee’s accomplishments in the moment, highlighting *exactly* what they did well and why. 

2. Job Security

No employee appreciates feeling like just another number. 

When someone feels replaceable, a lack of work motivation quickly follows, and productivity nosedives. Reassure your employees that if they keep performing well, you’ll do everything you can to retain or redeploy them should company circumstances change. 

That will go a long way in breeding business confidence and boosting motivation. 

3. Competitive Salary

As inflation rises like crazy (and with no end in sight), a competitive salary is at the top of the list for employees. 

To retain and motivate existing top-tier talent and attract new employees, you need to offer compensation that meets or exceeds their market value. 

Remember to extend this grace to existing employees first. Seriously, nothing will make your employees feel demotivated quicker than low-balling their pay while offering big bucks to attract new talent. 

4. Keep them in the loop

Keeping employees in the dark at work and management making decisions that impact them without input forms a breeding ground for anxiety. 

The solution? 

One of the most potent work motivators is simply letting your team know where they stand.

Don’t withhold information (unless it’s confidential). Instead, implement transparent discussions via email or an internal communication platform.

Doing so ensures your employees feel empowered, respected and included. 

5. Meaningful work

According to CNBC/SurveyMonkey’s joint study, 35% of respondents said that feeling their “work is meaningful” was the number one factor in overall job happiness.

That’s a full 15% ahead of the runner-up of “being paid well.” 

So, how can you highlight meaningful work? 

Share positive client feedback to show your employees how they’ve directly impacted the business in a meaningful way.

You can also take a big-picture standpoint by showing your team how their work connects with a larger purpose like your company’s mission statement.

6. Professional development

Millennials and Gen Z now form most of the workforce.

As these demographics are either just starting or midway through their career, they (generally) prioritize professional growth.

Offering an education stipend for training or mentorship from senior-level employees fosters their growth, shows them their roles aren’t stagnant and makes them feel like they’re moving forward.

And that leads to increased productivity in your workforce. 

7. Have an open-door policy

An open-door policy is another powerful way to ensure employees don’t experience that “Ugh, no motivation to work anymore” feeling.

Such an approach means going beyond the expected weekly or monthly check-ins and fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their needs at any time. 

Your open-door policy will increase emotional safety and help employees to feel valued and perform at their best.

Ultimately, your team will be better equipped to serve internal and external stakeholders. Make it easy for your team to get in touch with you via a centralized communication platform like Evolia.

8. Offer surprise time off

A surprise day off is one of those work motivators that’s relatively simple to pull off and yields excellent results.

We could all do with escaping the rat race every so often, and your employees can do that with the gift of time.

If someone on your team is low on motivation, encourage them to take an unrequested day off to rest and relax. 

At Evolia, we offer half-day Fridays in the summer, giving everyone time to enjoy the sun and get an early start on the weekend ahead!

A little consideration like this goes a long way in building appreciation among your team that feeds back into workplace happiness and productivity.

 9. Offer flexible schedules

And along came the pandemic: causing one of the most significant shifts in workplace expectations in the last century… flexible working.

Those two years taught us all the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Now looking after your mental/emotional well-being is no longer an office “perk” but necessary for a happy life.

Offering a flexible schedule is a great way to maintain that work/life balance and ultimately improve productivity.

An intelligent scheduling platform like Evolia enables you to set your own custom rules, and empowers employees to build their schedules directly from their phones.

By putting the power in your employee’s hands, you’re boosting engagement while removing the manual load of doing schedules yourself. 

To reinforce the net positives of flexible working without reinforcing the pitfalls, gently remind staff to switch off at the end of their working day, even if they can access work communications from home. 

10- Foster emotional safety 

An emotionally safe work environment means that your team feels safe to share their concerns, suggestions, and opinions without being shamed or disciplined by peers or management. 

When it comes to work motivators, emotional safety and company culture are similar. 

IDEO Partner and Managing Director, Bryan Walker, likens culture to the wind, saying: 

“It is invisible, yet its effect can be seen and felt.”​ 

Emotional safety is like the wind: an invisible and often overlooked force crucial to an organization’s success.

When employees feel emotionally safe, they can pour more cognitive resources into their work rather than drain themselves trying to navigate unhealthy team dynamics. 

You can promote emotional safety by creating space for your team to voice their concerns openly without judgment.

You could have an impartial mediator from another team hold this space or have the team nominate someone they trust to gather concerns or feedback. 

The Bottom Line 

A lack of motivation at work impacts your team’s productivity.

Still, when you spot the signs as an HR manager, it’s essential to understand the underlying causes and make space for solutions (work motivators) rather than judgment. 

Whether creating an emotionally safe environment where recognition is frequent, offering a flexible schedule, a competitive salary or keeping channels of communication open, these actions put your employees on the path to regaining motivation at work. 

Or better yet, prevent them from losing motivation in the first place.

Interested in centralizing your workforce management or taking away the manual work of building employee schedules?

Contact us for a free demo today

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