Global Material Handling System Integrators

22 Factors that Can Affect Employee Motivation & Engagement

The magic ingredient to a winning team is their commitment, motivation, and engagement to each other and the goals of the team. Creating an environment that motivates employees is one of the toughest challenges our managers and leaders face today. It takes tremendous energy and time to build a motivated team, but the incremental benefits are critical to the long-term success of the organization. [caption id="attachment_4409" align="alignright" width="200"]employee engagement and motivation A work environment that fosters motivation and engagement leads to higher performing employees and successful companies.[/caption] Best practices in human behavior have taught us that there is a group of common motivators and de-motivators or hygiene factors:


  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. The work itself
  4. Responsibility
  5. Advancement
  6. Growth

Potential De-Motivators or Hygiene Factors:

  1. Company policies and administration
  2. Supervision
  3. Relationship with supervisor (direct manager)
  4. Work conditions
  5. Salary
  6. Relationship with peers
  7. Personal life
  8. Relationship with subordinates
  9. Status

Observations and Lessons Learned:

1. Hire the right people from the start. People who are happy with themselves, self-fulfilled, and respectful of others. Employees are more in charge of their overall happiness in life than their managers. It is also very important to hire the right type of person for the type of job that will be performed.  For example:
  1. IRS: conformance to process
  2. Disney: imagination
  3. BMW: technical engineering
  4. Banking /Accounting: attention to detail
If you don't hire the right people from the start, no amount of management or leadership will be able to motivate the employees. 2. Motivation factors for an employee are continually changing (dynamic). This is why it is important for individuals to receive personalized leadership from their managers and managers to constantly communicate with their employees to know what is important to them at any given time.  Each employee is different.
  1. Compare motivators at the:
    • 1st month
    • 1st year
    • 3rd anniversary
    • 5th anniversary
    • Etc...the motivators will be different
  2. Any single motivator can lose its luster over time. It could be a week, a month, or a year. The motivating factor will become stale, and the employee will be looking for some new challenges.
  3. Each person has a different affinity for accepting risk.
  4. Each person accepts and adopts to change at a different rate.
3. A great manager is able to interpret an employee's motivators throughout his or her career and adjust that individual's work and opportunities accordingly. Flexibility of policies, job descriptions, and career development is important to keep the job interesting. 4. Processes within the company have to be fair: workloads, accountability, incentive structures, adequate resources available, etc. Fair processes are demonstrated by the combination of:
  1. Asking for input and communicating respect for an individual's ideas.
  2. Providing an explanation of why the process or strategy is important (big picture) to the overall success of the company.
  3. Setting clear expectations in regards to the "change in process" and the new performance metrics.
5. Intrinsic (internal) motivators are far more powerful than extrinsic incentives, commissions, or bonuses. Done well the extrinsic motivators compliment the intrinsic motivators. Incentives and bonus plans define results for performance, but they do not manage, or in the long term, motivate employees. Incentives and bonus plans do require more attentive management and result in key metrics being more visible. Incentive systems are also good at setting clear expectations between the manager and the employee. 6. Managers should always proactively schedule one-on-one time with their employees. Frequent communication is essential to maintaining a motivated employee. Quality time spent with your employees can be a huge enabler for understanding their current motivators. 7. The strength or weakness of the employee's peers/ co-workers and the culture of the company build-up or drain the employee's energy and motivation. We all want to be on a winning team. 8. Great leaders create a vision and common team goals to maintain the motivation of their employees over a long period of time. The management team must demonstrate success and growth of the organization. The current success of the business and the belief or trust on where the business will go in the future is very important to an employee's motivation. 9. Employees must like and respect their direct manager or their motivation will be limited. 10. The overall business environment can certainly affect employee morale as well (i.e. the global recession). 11. Happiness in an employee's personal life: spouse, children, extended family, friends, health, financial, etc. is very important to how happy the employee will be at work. 12. Current work load and time away from home must be monitored closely or the employee will get burnt out. 13. The overall compensation plan has to be competitive. It is important to check annually on what the current market range is for each particular position. Compensation plans have to be clearly communicated and understood between the manager and employee. 14. Employees want both autonomy and to work in a great team environment. Sometimes these drivers can be in conflict. 15. The current success of employees feeds or reduces their future motivation. Great managers always help their employees achieve personal successes when possible. 16. Some employees want advancement and career development opportunities. Some employees do not want advancement or change and are very happy in their current position. 17. There must be an availability of meaningful work. There must also be organization and a sense of urgency by the team to get the work done. There should always be a good queue of work to be accomplished by each person. Idle time without direction is generally more of a de-motivator than being busy and engaged. 18. As is human nature, employees will tend to migrate into one of three major groups:
  1. 20% Achievers
  2. 60% Middle of the road (sometimes engaged, sometimes not engaged)
  3. 20% do little, complain, and tend to pull the organization down.
    • Group morale can often be improved by working on these ratios (i.e. good hiring and letting go employees who are not engaged and contributing).
    • Spend more of your energy motivating the top 80% rather than putting your energies into trying to fix the bottom 20%.
19. Employees won't necessarily tell you what their true motivators are. Great managers develop a strong relationship with their employees, so they "just know" when something is not quite right. This intuition is critical to fixing problems before they get out of control. 20. Don't assume what motivates your employees is the same thing that motivates you personally. 21. Often times, the more disciplined, harder working team will be happier and more motivated than the autonomous, free spirited, self-directed team. It is rare that someone will quit because they have been worked too hard if they enjoy what they are doing and have been treated fairly. 22. A balanced work and personal life can enhance or detract from an employee's motivation.

Hopefully some of these insights are helpful to you as you work on building the commitment, motivation, and engagement within your teams. Please give me your feedback and thoughts on motivation in the workplace. Our ability to develop motivated teams determines our future success.

Author: Greg Conner

I joined Bastian Solutions in 2005 after graduating from Purdue University. My first role was as a project engineer before transitioning to a field application engineer. After seven years, I became regional director of Indiana, overseeing all local FAEs as well as Bastian Solutions’ e-commerce business. In 2016, I was promoted to Vice President, Eastern U.S. where I oversaw sales and operations for all Eastern U.S. offices. In 2019, I was promoted to Vice President of Global Sales, now managing all sales in the U.S. as well as our international offices. 


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