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What Really Motivates Employees (1)
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We’re experiencing a sea-change in the way we work, and flexible working practices are riding the crest of this wave.

Many organisations are moving away from the belief that incentive schemes and salary are the main motivators for producing results and encouraging productivity. What is it, then, that is now being seen as an effective tool to motivate today’s employees? What does this mean for you and your workplace? And how are employers now recruiting the talent they need and posting the results they desire?

The view from the shore suggests that money is no longer the motivating factor it was once seen to be. It also suggests that its almost mythical motivating powers may have been just that: a myth. Between 1973 and 2011, worker productivity grew by 80.4%, yet, during the same period there was only a 10.7% growth in median hourly wages after inflation. As the tide recedes on our belief in the incentivising magic of money alone, what other forces can help drive this continued growth?

The infographic below looks at the self-determination theory that increasingly forms the cornerstone of HR recruitment and retention practices. This theory has been succinctly summarised by the former Chairman of General Electric, Jack Welch, who argued that “you have to get rewarded in the soul and the wallet.”

Optimal efficiency in today’s companies is being achieved through the creation of a culture that fosters competence, autonomy and relatedness. It is these three attributes that motivate employees.
We look in more detail below about what these mean and how they’re being fostered, but let’s just consider some practical applications here:

  • Competence: to master the skills you need to achieve the desired results in a way that suits your learning preferences
  • Autonomy: to choose the best method, location and hours of working to match your lifestyle
  • Relatedness: to choose whom you work with, and how you work with them, according to both of your working practices

Flexible working practices are part and parcel of larger changes in the workplace. They are also part of a mindset that recognizes how allowing employees to take ownership of tasks, work in ways best-suited to them and create their own working relationships is a fantastic way to motivate and retain talent. And, what’s more, it increases productivity and achieves results.


Infographic and Photo Credit: Accounting Principals.

Stephanie Beer
Stephanie Beer holds a degree in Business administration, and her main interests lie within culture, media and leisure management. She has written this article on behalf of NeoMam Studios, a visual content marketing agency specialised in design, development and promotion of static and interactive infographics for over 50 clients from all over the world.
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  • Joe Detroit

    I assume we’re talking skilled workers here. How’s that make a difference in terms of control and motivation?

  • inthestair

    How frightfully middle class. I must tell my colleagues earning National Minimum Wage that money isn’t everything.

  • ibe jerry
  • Kristi Williams

    We all had jobs that we didn’t enjoy working but we took them because we were either motivated by the pay rate, the health care and dental insurance, or other company benefits. Sometimes what motivates us at that particular time may not motivate us six month down the road because family dynamics change. In my Business Ethnics class, I learned that people also want to contribute to a cause, not just earn a living. I served in the Army for over twelve years before deciding it was time to leave and today, I still continue to support the troops although I am no longer an actual Soldier. Knowing how much the soldiers and their families sacrifice firsthand made me want to continue supporting the military.

    To say that today’s leaders must learn to initiate rapid and continuous change is to state the obvious. Such change is a fact of life. People need a hope beyond the change. It is the job of the organization to motivate the employees. Leaders should always be in communication with their employees just to find out how things are going and what they can do to change anything?

    Motivation doesn’t have to be in the form of money. That’s what companies forget, it can be in the form of recognitions, awards, gift cards, time-off award, vacation, promotion, or even a bonus. Knowing your employee and their family needs will help the organization come up with ways to motivate their employees because everyone is motivated differently. Sometimes it may not take much but a “Great Job” from the boss. This can also help with retaining employees in an organization.

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/oleg-solodov-6b2814b6/ Oleg Solodov

    For me as for businessman it’s really important to understand how to motivate my employees. Thank you very much for useful information and cool design of infographic!