How to motivate your staff
In a perfect world, employees would be brimming with enthusiasm and energy every working day. But in reality, having a motivated team of employees takes work.

Employee motivation reflects the level of energy and commitment workers bring to their jobs, and if it’s low, it can impact the whole workforce.

“It’s so easy to be focused on client outcomes and productivity, but we often overlook employee motivation,” says SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read. “Without motivation, employees don’t bring their best selves to work. They can be disengaged, and the outcomes won’t be in the business’s favour.”  

Watch here as Read explains the biggest drivers of motivation, and how understanding these can help you engage your team:

Warning signs of low motivation

Signs that motivation is waning amongst employees include:

  • complacency
  • disinterest
  • discouragement
  • absenteeism
  • presenteeism
  • negativity
  • over-reliance on others
  • taking shortcuts
  • resentment

“An unmotivated workforce is going to be negative, and that negativity is contagious,” Read says.

The biggest drivers for motivating employees

It’s tempting to think that money is the main motivator for employees, but Read says people are more complex than that. “Humans are motivated by so many things, and most of us are motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers,” she says.

Intrinsic drivers include autonomy (the urge to direct our own life), purpose (service to others) curiosity, learning, mastery (the urge to get better at something) and meaning making.

Extrinsic drivers include money, status, perks, rewards, ‘gold stars’ and fear of failure or punishment.

The best way to find out the drivers for motivating your staff is to ask them. Ask what inspires them about the work they do, what they are passionate about and ask about roles where they didn’t feel motivated.

How to keep your team motivated

Keeping employees motivated isn’t as hard as it may sound.

“A combination of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers works best in ensuring that staff members are engaged at work,” Read says.

This could involve:

  • giving employees autonomy to work on projects independently
  • providing opportunities to be creative and innovate
  • allowing flexible working arrangements
  • conducting regular pay reviews
  • ensuring that the employee’s role fulfils their work purpose.

The aim of managers, Read says, is to help employees learn, grown and develop – even if it means they’ll leave the workplace one day.

Knowing how to motivate your staff matters. Understanding these drivers can help you ensure your employees are motivated, engaged and enthusiastic about their work – which will in turn help your team achieve goals.