Great organizations strive to create environments that foster productivity and employee engagement. Motivation is a crucial factor and serves as the driving force behind individual behavior and action. It also plays a vital role in shaping workplace dynamics. In this article, we will discuss some of the 23 motivators we identified that drive people in the workplace. We’ll also discuss the importance of motivation in the workplace and the significance of a person’s unique motivators. 

Defining Motivators

Motivators are internal or external factors that encourage a person to take action and pursue their goals, both personal and professional. They are the catalysts influencing and directing a person’s behavior toward desired outcomes. Our extensive study of workplace motivators identified that all people are driven by the same 23 basic things in varying degrees. These range from friendship, family, empathy, and developing others to ownership, autonomy, money, and recognition. 

Every person’s top ten motivators are unique and almost assuredly different from the person they sit next to. The chances of two people having the same top ten motivators in the same order are about a million to one. However, knowing what motivates each individual on your team is important. This will also allow you to compare motivators and see if you can find a common motivator your team shares. This helps design team incentives. You can also help relieve tensions between co-workers by helping them identify which motivators may clash with their colleagues. This can cause unnecessary strain on interpersonal relationships in the office. 

Everyone’s motivators come from a variety of factors. These can include culture, family dynamics, personal interests, or their generation. What motivates employees in the Baby Boomer group can vastly differ from what motivates Gen Z’ers. A manager’s essential responsibility is finding a way to bridge the gap between a diverse team. In the context of the workplace, motivators are classified into two main categories: intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. 

Intrinsic Motivators

This type of motivator comes from within an individual. Personal values, interests, and satisfaction from work drive them. Examples include prestige, recognition, autonomy, personal growth, and the opportunity to use creativity. Intrinsic motivators are often closely tied to job satisfaction and can contribute to long-term engagement and commitment.  

Extrinsic Motivators

On the other hand, extrinsic motivators are external rewards or incentives from the environment or other people. They can include monetary compensation, bonuses, promotions, job security, or other tangible benefits or rewards. While extrinsic motivators can have a short-term impact on employee performance, they are generally less sustainable. They are less likely than intrinsic motivators to lead to long-term satisfaction or engagement. This information can be shocking to some. Often, managers and organizations think money is the only way to motivate their employees. This can be true for some people, but more often than not, money is a low-level motivator. In our study of motivators, we found that only 9% of employees are highly motivated by money. 

The Importance of Motivators in the Workplace

So why is motivation important in the workplace? We’ve said it before, and we’ll repeat it: motivated employees are happier, more engaged, and less likely to seek employment elsewhere. When people are engaged in their work, they also perform better than their unmotivated peers and their work is usually of a better quality. A motivated workforce also comes with the added benefit of a better retention rate, attracting the most talented people in the field, and fewer issues with employee burnout. 

Enhanced Employee Engagement

Motivated employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. When individuals are driven by intrinsic motivators, such as a sense of purpose, developing others, or problem-solving, their job performance will improve. They will be more likely to invest more time and effort into their tasks, be more productive, and have better overall performance. 

Increased Job Satisfaction

Motivators contribute to job satisfaction as they fulfill individuals’ needs and desires. Depending on what each employee is more motivated by, this can include feeling recognized, ownership over specific projects, or excelling at work, among others. When people feel motivated at work, they experience higher satisfaction. This leads to a lower turnover rate and a more positive work environment.

Improved Performance and Productivity

Motivated employees are more likely than their unmotivated peers to go above and beyond in their roles without experiencing burnout. When employees aren’t highly motivated, their job performance suffers. Intrinsic motivators, such as pressure or variety in work tasks, can stimulate creativity, innovation, and problem-solving abilities. Extrinsic motivators, such as performance-based rewards, can provide short-term boosts in productivity. Organizations can unlock their employees’ full potential by tapping into both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. 

Positive Organizational Culture

Motivated employees contribute to the development of a positive work culture. When individuals are driven by a shared sense of purpose, values, and goals, it fosters collaboration, teamwork, and a sense of belonging. This is particularly helpful for employees motivated by developing others or friendships in the workplace. This, in turn, promotes employee well-being and creates a supportive and inspiring work environment. 

Talent Attraction and Retention

Organizations that prioritize motivators are more likely to attract and retain top talent in their field. Today’s job market is highly competitive, and people aren’t staying with companies long-term like they used to. Prospective employees seek out competitive salaries and want opportunities for growth, service, and fulfilling their social responsibilities. Once you attract these talents, you have to work to keep them. Other companies will seek them out and need motivation to stay with your organization. Motivated employees are 87% less likely to resign from their position, so keeping your people motivated is incredibly important. 

Catering to Individual Motivators

Now that we know why motivation is important in the workplace, how do we determine what motivates our employees? An easy first step is to just talk to your employees. Develop a close, professional relationship with each person on your team. Talk to them regularly about how things are going with their job, which tasks they enjoy doing, and which tasks they find frustrating. Develop an open line of communication so they feel comfortable talking to you if they encounter any issues or feel insecure in their work. Learn their personal and career goals and find ways to help them reach them.

Complete a Motivators Assessment

Another excellent way to identify a person’s motivators is to have them complete an assessment. The Motivator’s Assessment is a scientifically-backed, comprehensive questionnaire that identifies a person’s motivators from most important to least. This information is vital to the employees themself, the manager, and their co-workers. This will promote a deeper understanding of colleagues’ behavior and help minimize disputes. This information also helps managers identify what their employees need to feel motivated and engaged in their work tasks. Be sure to have employees retake the assessment regularly, as their motivators will change over time as they grow and develop in life. 

Understanding the answer to the question of why motivation is important in the workplace is essential for managers. These motivators are critical in the workplace as they drive employee engagement, job satisfaction, performance, and the success of the organization as a whole. Organizations can create a positive work environment full of motivated employees by understanding the different types of motivators and tailoring strategies to address those individual needs. Balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivators alongside a person’s unique motivators is crucial to long-term engagement. This will also positively impact short-term performance.

To foster a motivating workplace, organizations can implement practices such as providing opportunities for personal and professional development, recognizing and rewarding achievements, promoting autonomy and decision-making, and fostering a supportive and inclusive work culture. Again, tailor these to what is most important to each person on your team. Offering autonomy to someone with it at the bottom of their list of motivators won’t be as effective as engaging with their top ten motivators. Ultimately, when employees feel motivated and fulfilled in their work, they become valuable assets to the organization. By prioritizing motivators, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce. This leads to increased productivity, innovation, and sustainable growth.

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