Employee motivation 2.0: proven methods meet fresh ideas

We decode employee motivation: from theories, like Maslow, to the employee app for a maximally engaged team.
Table of contents

At a time when, according to a study by Gartner, only 13% of employees are completely satisfied with their working lives and 79% of those who quit their jobs say they lacked appreciation at work, the importance of employee motivation is becoming increasingly clear.

A motivated team is not only more productive, but also more satisfied and committed. But how can you sustainably increase employee motivation? And why is it so critical to business success? In this article, we’ll dive deep into the topic of employee motivation and shed light on why it’s essential, what factors influence it, and how you can effectively increase it.

Definition employee motivation

Employee motivation roughly describes the inner life of an individual that influences their behavior in relation to their work. These are the internal (intrinsic) and external (extrinsic) factors that stimulate a person to perform certain actions or pursue certain goals in a professional context. This motivation can stem from a desire for recognition, financial incentives, professional growth, or even the sheer joy of the work itself. The origins for motivation are as varied as each person is individual.

In an organizational context, employee motivation refers to a person’s willingness to go above and beyond what is required and contribute to the success of the organization. A motivated employee typically demonstrates higher productivity, creativity and loyalty to the company, which in turn leads to higher employee retention and satisfaction.

It is important to emphasize that motivation is not only created by monetary incentives. While salary and bonuses certainly play a role, it is often the intangible rewards such as recognition, opportunities for advancement, and a positive work environment that have a critical impact on a person’s motivation.

In today’s business environment, where competition for talent is more intense than ever and employee expectations are constantly rising, it is highly important for companies to understand and leverage the factors that drive their workforce.

Difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation

Motivation is what drives us to perform certain actions or pursue goals. It can come from a variety of sources and is often divided into two main categories: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that arises from external factors or rewards. These can be material rewards such as salary, bonuses or promotions, but also intangible incentives such as praise from superiors or recognition from colleagues. In this case, the action or task is performed mainly because of the expectation of an external reward or to avoid punishment.

Examples of extrinsic motivation:

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from within. It occurs when a person performs a task or activity out of pure interest, passion, or pleasure without expecting any external reward. This form of motivation is often more sustainable and can lead to higher satisfaction and better performance because the action itself is perceived as rewarding.

Examples of intrinsic motivators:

Why employee motivation is important

Motivating employees is not just a nice extra, but a crucial factor for the success of a company. It influences productivity, quality of work, employee retention and ultimately financial success. Some reasons for having a vested interest in increasing employee motivation include:

  • Increase productivity

    Motivated employees are often more productive and complete their tasks more efficiently. They are willing to put in extra effort to achieve their goals and exceed expectations.

  • Improving the quality of work

    When employees are motivated, they tend to pay more care and attention to their work, resulting in higher quality and fewer errors.

  • Reduction of fluctuation

    People who feel valued and motivated are more likely to stay with a company. This reduces the cost of hiring and training new staff and ensures continuity in the team.

  • Innovation promotion

    Motivated employees are often more creative and come up with new ideas and solutions. They are willing to take risks and try new approaches, which leads to innovation and growth.

  • Strengthening the corporate culture

    A motivated team fosters a positive corporate culture in which everyone pulls together, collaborates, supports each other and pursues common goals.

  • Increase customer satisfaction

    Happy and engaged employees often provide better customer service, which leads to happier customers and repeat business.

  • Positive Auswirkungen auf den Unternehmensgewinn

    All the above factors - from productivity to customer satisfaction - ultimately help to increase the company's profits.

Given all these benefits, it’s clear that investing in employee motivation is not only the right thing to do ethically, it’s also smart business sense. Companies that care about the well-being and motivation of their employees are often more successful, more resilient and enjoy a better reputation in their industry.

What motivates employees?

To understand what drives employee motivation, we can refer to two established psychological models: Maslow’s pyramid of needs and David McClelland’s theory of needs.

Maslow’s pyramid of needs

Abraham Maslow posited that people are driven by a hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy is structured like a pyramid, with the most basic needs at the base:

  • 1. Physiological needs

    These include basic needs such as food, water and sleep.

  • 2. Security needs

    This includes physical security as well as emotional security, stability and freedom from fear.

  • 3. Social needs

    These include the need for belonging, love, and social relationships.

  • 4. Appreciation needs

    This includes the need for recognition, respect and self-esteem.

  • 5. Self-realization

    The pursuit of personal growth, fulfillment and reaching one's potential.

In a work context, organizations can address these needs to create an environment where each person feels safe, valued and motivated.

Needs according to David McClelland

David McClelland identified three main drivers that influence people’s behavior:

  • 1. Need for performance (nAch)

    The need to meet challenging goals and achieve a high standard of success.

  • 2. Need for power (nPow)

    The need to exert influence over others and to have control over situations.

  • 3. Connection requirement (nAff)

    The need for social relationships and interactions.

In a corporate environment, managers can use these needs to develop individual motivational strategies for their employees. For example, those with a high need for achievement might be motivated by challenging projects or goals, while those with a high need for connection might benefit from teamwork and social activities.

Measures to increase employee motivation

Increasing employee motivation is a continuous process that is influenced by both internal and external factors. Based on the theories and models we discussed earlier, you can take a variety of actions to help motivate your workforce:

  • 1. Get to know your employees!

    The following measures and recommendations are of little or no use if they are introduced aimlessly. Accordingly, it is crucial that you get to know your team and grasp the needs of each person. This will give you a better overview of your company's situation and effectively address the motivation of your workforce.

  • 2. Fulfillment of basic needs

    Companies should first ensure that physiological and safety needs are met. This is achieved through appropriate remuneration, secure working conditions and stable employment contracts.

  • 3. Promotion of social relations

    To meet employees' social needs, companies can promote team activities, networking events and other social initiatives.

  • 4. Recognition and appreciation

    Employees who feel appreciated and recognized are often more motivated. Regular feedback, praise and recognition help to fulfill the desired appreciation needs.

  • 5. Personal and professional development

    Promoting opportunities for training and development addresses the need for self-actualization, as well as the need for personal achievement.

  • 6. Influence and responsibility

    Assigning responsibility and granting autonomy addresses some employees' need for power and makes them feel like they are making a valuable contribution to the company.

  • 7. Promotion of teamwork

    For employees with a high need for connection, the fostering of teamwork and collaboration is particularly motivating.

  • 8. Flexible working models

    The ability to choose flexible working hours or work remotely increases both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation by giving employees more autonomy and control over their work.

  • 9. Involvement in decision-making processes

    Involving the workforce in decision-making processes significantly strengthens their sense of belonging and value to the company.

  • 10. Clear communication of goals and expectations

    Setting clear goals and expectations addresses employees' need to perform and gives them clear direction.

Employee app as a tool for employee motivation

In a digitized world of work, where communication and collaboration often take place across different platforms and tools, employee apps are becoming increasingly important. These apps are not only practical tools, but can also be used as an effective tool to increase employee motivation. Some reasons are:

  • Improved communication

    An employee app that serves as a central platform for internal communication makes information more easily accessible and promotes exchange between teams and departments. Transparent communication strengthens trust and a sense of belonging.

  • Immediate feedback and recognition

    Through the app, managers and colleagues provide instant feedback, which helps to immediately recognize achievements and increase self-esteem.

  • Access to resources and training

    Employee apps provide easy and quick access to training materials, courses and other resources that promote personal and professional development.

  • Involvement and participation

    Through surveys, polls and discussion forums in the app, employees share their opinions and suggestions, leading to a greater sense of participation and involvement.

  • Social interaction

    The app also includes social features such as chats, forums and social feeds that address the social needs of the workforce and promote team collaboration.

  • Flexibility and mobility

    An employee app gives everyone access to important information and resources, regardless of time or location. This promotes flexibility and allows employees to work more efficiently, especially in a remote or hybrid work model.

Conclusion on employee motivation

The motivation of employees is complex and influenced by many factors. However, by understanding the workforce and applying theories such as Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs and David McClelland’s Needs, organizations can develop effective strategies to motivate and inspire their teams.

Particularly with regard to digitization, there is great potential here for companies that is waiting to be harnessed. Thus, it is possible via an employee app some of the addressed. Effectively realize measures and goals to ensure maximum success.

Follow us on social media to stay informed.
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to contact us!

More Info

About plazz AG
About Mobile Event App

Contact Details

T: +49 (0) 89 26 20 43 469
E: sales@polario.app