Before a big game, fans hold a pep rally, cheering to show support for their team
Walk-up music blasts when a new player comes up to bat, pumping up both players and fans.
When you got to work this morning, what kind of motivational bump was waiting for you?
While we all know that highly engaged teams bring more organizational success, employee enthusiasm is waning. What’s the gameplan?
Motivation and employee engagement
The reality is, employee engagement is low, and motivation is an essential component of engagement. But which comes first, engagement or motivation?
Motivation is what gets an employee to show up, do their work, and do it well. When someone lacks motivation, everything is a struggle. Even the smallest everyday task can feel monumental. Learning how to self-motivate is a strong starting point, but it’s not always enough.
Because many factors influencing motivation are beyond an individual’s personal control, understanding these factors can help organizations to develop more effective engagement strategies. Simply hoping for the best isn’t enough: Organizations need to step up to keep their teams engaged.
Gallup’s most recent data shows that only 32% of American employees are engaged at work. That’s a far cry from the rate at best-practice organizations. This article examines major factors influencing motivation at work, breaking down these factors into two areas: personal and organizational.
5 personal factors impacting motivation at work
How an individual perceives their work or themselves at work can positively or negatively influence motivation. Additionally, personal circumstances outside of the work environment can play a role. This section considers several potential personal hurdles to motivation at work.
Personal Factor 1: Lack of interest
Boredom demotivates the best of us. Even the best-intentioned employees can struggle to start work or persist with it when they have little interest in what they’re asked to do.
In the past 30 years, employees have grown to value meaningful work above income, hours worked, and job security. According to McKinsey research, meaningful work positively impacts performance, commitment to the organization, and retention.
Personal Factor 2: Skills shortcoming
If someone feels ill equipped to do what is asked of them, they can struggle with self-motivation. Without proper training and development to set them up for success, the individual may question how much your organization truly values the work they are doing.
Personal Factor 3: Lack of confidence
Even if the individual has the skills they need to get the work done, they may doubt their abilities. This undermines motivation. An employee may also lack confidence in the attainability of a client or contract, the likelihood of meeting a deadline, or the need for a task to be completed. Any of these will also make it more difficult for someone to do their best work.
Personal Factor 4: Feeling unappreciated
An employee that doesn’t feel appreciated or respected at work may see little reason to work hard and demonstrate motivation. If they don’t perceive opportunities for growth or a reward for doing their best, they may instead choose to do the bare minimum. If you’ve heard of quiet quitting, you may already know that feeling unappreciated is a common reason behind this churn challenge.
Personal Factor 5: External concerns
Our personal lives can also influence our motivation at work. Whether it’s a bad breakup, worries about a child’s success, caretaker responsibilities, or financial stress, these kind of anxieties can distract us from our daily work. These stressors can also throw off work-life balance and leave an individual feeling overwhelmed.
6 organizational factors impacting motivation at work
The environment at your organization impacts employee motivation as well. This is especially true when challenging factors are out of the individuals’ control or they feel as if they have no say.
Organizational Factor 1: Changing structures
Motivating at work can be more challenging in the face of structural changes. A merger or acquisition or other structural reorganization, as well as hiring and firing, can impact employee behavior. They may worry about their future at the organization or fail to see a path to growth or future opportunities as the organization changes, which undermines motivation.
Organizational Factor 2: Shifting goals or expectations
If the target is always moving, motivating to try and accomplish the goal gets more difficult. Without a clear idea of the objective, and why it matters, tasks can feel like mere busy work. Inconsistency of expectations also makes it difficult to stay focused and motivated as it becomes much more difficult to feel you are making progress.
Organizational Factor 3: Lack of role clarity
When you’re hired for one job and then are asked to do something else, you might lose motivation. Employees who feel that their organization isn’t living up to its promises are less likely to show motivation. Effective onboarding is a great way to counter this disengagement as you can help establish and manage realistic expectations.
Organizational Factor 4: Poor leadership
Leaders want to keep their employees motivated and energized at work. However, any of the following behaviors could have negative impact on motivation at work:
- Setting unrealistic deadlines
- Failing to acknowledge employee accomplishment
- Creating an atmosphere of distrust
- Lack of communication
Organizational Factor 5: Culture
A sense of belonging drives motivation as well. Someone who cares about their colleagues and feels included will be less likely to want to let the team down. When an individual buys into your company’s mission, vision, and values, they’ll also be more likely to want to do what they can to help you reach your goals.
Organizational Factor 6: Employee burnout
Employees can feel overwhelmed due to any of the three previous factors influencing motivation. But those aren’t the only reasons someone might feel over-extended. The Harvard Business Review identifies six major factors:
- Workload imbalance
- Perceived lack of control
- Reward mismatch
- Lack of community
- Perceived inequity
- Values mismatch
No matter what, it is more difficult to get started and a struggle to do something, when you’re feeling burned out.
Understanding and addressing motivation at work
Motivation is highly personal. Still, this article has discussed several common challenges that zap an employee’s motivation. Next up in this series, we’ll share strategies to help employers motivate their people.
Better understand your employees and their motivation levels by gathering data. You might use an employee pulse or work-life balance survey to collect feedback from your people. Sogolytics offers an employee experience platform that can help.