5 Myths About What Motivates People At Work

You’ve read all the books, followed all the leadership advice, but your employees still lack motivation. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Incredibly, 71% of employees in the United States consider themselves “not engaged” or “disengaged.”

With all the how-to advice out there, let’s focus on what not to do.

Read on to learn five myths about what motivates people at work.

1. Team building is key

When done right, yes, team building can be very successful.

The problem is, many employers miss the mark completely. There are several reasons team building activities fail:

  • Employees are uncomfortable
  • People do not see the purpose
  • The activities are often off target
  • There is no follow up or positive reinforcement

Harvard Business Review has determined that proper team building is a science. Daily interactions and camaraderie have a larger impact on employee morale than team building events.

What motivates people more than team building? It could be as simple as creating a communal lunch area or encouraging group breaks.

2. Personal job satisfaction should be enough

We have to do away with the you-should-be-happy-to-have-a-job-mentality.

It’s hard to imagine any positive scenario in which an employee replies, “I’m just happy to have a job.” This mindset can lead to anger, resentment, low morale, and disengagement.

People want to feel valued and it isn’t merely enough to just have a job anymore. It doesn’t work that way and managers have to realize this.

3. What motivates people? Money, of course

While it may seem logical that more money makes a more motivated employee, this isn’t always true. Company culture, leadership, and work environment are key factors as well.

Likewise, there are plenty of low-cost, creative ways to motivate employees.

Flextime, company swag, gift cards and employee awards are just a few examples of budget-friendly incentive ideas.

4. The more praise, the better

While praise is good, not all praise is the same and employees can quickly sniff out false flattery.

Here are a few tips to keep your praise on point:

  • Be specific. Give specific examples of what the employee has done and why you appreciate them.
  • Be timely. Recognize employees on the spot or soon after a key achievement.
  • Be genuine. Never under any circumstances mix criticism with praise. This is self-defeating.

5. Star employees don’t need external motivation

It can be easy to overlook your best employees. Managers often assume they are rock stars for a reason and do not need personal praise or acknowledgment. However, underlying motivational factors remain the same.

People want to feel like they are a part of something bigger. Company culture and quality management are very important motivational factors for employees.

Do not take these employees for granted. Recognize them, appreciate them, and communicate with them often.

What motivates people varies across the board, but what is clear, is this: Employers want engaged employees and employees want to be engaged.

Learning from these five myths is a step in the right direction!

What are your personal experiences with employee engagement? Please leave a reply below. We’d love to hear from you.