Bill Alexander: There is more to work than money in the wallet

bill alexander

Employers need to adjust their approach to motivation in the workplace and cannot ignore the direct link to performance, productivity and profit.

It is fair to say that the majority of today’s forward-thinking organisations have motivation strategies in place. However, it appears that many have the wrong approach.

It is not just about motivating employees; it is just as important to eliminate the factors that demotivate them in the first place.

Motivate’s latest study, Employee motivation: living to work, published today (24 September 2018), shows that employee motivation levels are on the decline, while more and more employees believe their jobs define their lives inside and outside the office.

In 2016, the number of employees not motivated at work was 18%, but a worrying trend has seen this increase to 29% of respondents this year.

So, why do motivational strategies fail, and how can we fix them?

The solution is surprisingly simple: listen to employees, understand what motivates them and what causes their motivation levels to decline.

Poor communication 

A staggering 25% of workers listed poor communication from senior management as one of the top demotivating forces at work.

Employers should start by acknowledging the flaws in their communication processes, challenging their existing methods and finding ways to connect with their employees.

If management strives to be honest, clear and straightforward with employees they will build good working relationships, which in turn will help workers to feel listened to, appreciated, and more motivated.

Recognition, appreciation and rewards

A lack of recognition from management is making today’s employees feel indifference and disinterest, and is contributing to a lack of drive. Without regular, consistent and sustained rewards, given fairly, motivation levels in the workplace will fall.

An organisation may well have a rewards programme, but this needs to be refreshed with new challenges and targets on a regular basis. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way too.

I have said this before and I will keep saying it, employers should never underestimate the power of saying thank you. Acknowledging a team or individual employee for their hard work and commitment will see them strive to reach achievements in their role again and again.

Embrace the modern working world

Working nine to five is no longer the norm. Lifestyle choices, the desire for flexibility, the need to juggle work and family commitments and the rise of technology have all brought about significant changes in the way we work. This is making it harder to separate working life from family and leisure time.

Management needs to embrace this change, use technology to its advantage and embrace the idea of allowing employees to work outside the office on a more flexible schedule.

With 21% of motivated employees saying that work-life balance is the most critical factor when it comes to motivation, it is something modern organisations cannot overlook.

Work-life balance goes beyond ensuring that employees leave on time and use their holiday allowance; it also means thinking about what you can do to create opportunities within the workplace to help people to improve their lives. This does not just apply professionally, but also in terms of employees’ physical, emotional, and social health.

Where we may have once encouraged people to ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’, these days our professional and personal identities are so intricately intertwined that we must find ways to allow employees to flourish within the workplace.

We must help employees to grow both in their careers and outside of them, to get their creativity enlivened and their motivation harnessed beyond the traditional nine to five and the monthly pay packet.


Bill Alexander is chairman at Motivates