Top 9 Factors That Impact Employee Motivation

Have you ever wondered why some employees go above and beyond and deliver expectations that are of the highest quality while others do not? Employees are the main contributors to a business. Their growth and success depends largely on their motivation and performance. In this article, we take a look and learn what are the motivational factors for employees and how to manage employee performance strategically and evaluate whether to elevate them or not. Here are the top nine (9) factors that impact employee motivation.
1. Salary

Receiving regular payment, especially in reference to permanent employees, is considered a basic need that is expected to be satisfied by an employer. It is also one of the major factors affecting motivation of employees. However, salary on its’ own is a short-term satisfaction. In the longer term, salary isn’t a factor that increases performance and a promise of getting a pay raise frequently has only a temporary impact.

However, if the salary is lower than an employee would expect, it could cause dissatisfaction and disengagement. While earning an ‘equitable’ salary might not motivate employees to perform better, it will reduce the risk of them feeling resentful or frustrated by the job.

2. Non-Monetary Incentives

Non-financial rewards also contribute to motivational factors in the workplace and are a way of satisfying employees’ character and self-actualisation needs. These are often used to:

  • Acknowledge extraordinary performance.
  • Recognise achievement.
  • Increase morale.
  • Create a positive work environment.
  • Motivate high performance.

According to research conducted by the Industrial Relations Services, non-monetary rewards help to fulfil organisational objectives at a relatively low cost. What’s more, some non-financial incentives can be executed almost immediately as opposed to financial rewards, which can take weeks or months to take effect.

There is a wide range of different non-financial incentives that can be used by managers:

  • A simple “Thank you” – either said directly to an employee or, better still, sent in written form and preferably hand-written.
  • Public appreciation and acknowledgement of a job or task well done.
  • Rewarding an employee with a title of a “Star of the Month” or “Employee of the Month”
  • Vouchers or tangible goods.
  • Flexible working arrangements.
  • The opportunity to work from home.
  • Free or subsidised meals, fruits or drinks.
3. Relationship with Colleagues

As employees spend one-third of their day at work, relationships, and interactions they have with their colleagues are one of the motivating factors at work and can significantly impact their mood and outlook. Negative experiences or attitudes will eventually lead to isolation and loneliness, making it more difficult to find satisfaction from work, which in turn will decrease motivation.

Employee’s social needs linked to their desire to be accepted and to belong to a community can be used to build strong and loyal teams that will achieve higher results by cooperating on the basis of common understanding.

4. Relationship with Leadership

An employee’s unique relation to his or her line manager is among the crucial factors influencing employee motivation Each employee has a hierarchy of needs that should be addressed and the responsibility of understanding those needs lays with their line manager. The basis for effective communication between the two parties is two-sided trust. Relationships build on this foundation will help employees to talk about their needs, thoughts and feelings honestly and openly, which in turn will give the line managers clear direction on how to support and motivate their team members.

5. Live without Regrets

People only have a few real opportunities in their careers to reach their ultimate goals. In fact, how many times do you meet people that are more successful than you are, and you wonder how they got there in the first place? People don’t want to live with any regrets in their lie or their career and thus are motivated to not disappoint themselves. To live without regrets is one of the key factors influencing employee motivation throughout their working life.

As a leader, don’t allow your employees to walk around carrying a load of guilt. Share your journey with them, your failures and successes, that you too were perhaps in their shoes once. An employee that doesn’t believe will never achieve. Help your employees embrace the unexpected and help them navigate uncertainty and change. Many people are confused in today’s workplace about their future. Motivate them by sharing the different perspectives they need to achieve.

6. Stable Future

Security motivates people in their lives. Everyone wants a stable future, but you never know what might happen. Although some uncertainty always exists, the promise of the possibility of stable future is among the motivational factors affecting employees performance.

People are motivated to have safety and security. That’s why we are all in a race against time and thus motivated to achieve faster than ever before. We have all learned from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic that we can all quickly become victims of unexpected change without preparation.

7. Professional Development

Perhaps the most important factor on this list is the ability to advance. Employees are extremely motivated to achieve if this means that advancement awaits them. This requires employees to be mindfully aware of opportunities that lie around, beneath and beyond what they seek. As leaders, you will sustain high levels of motivation from your employees if you can open doors of opportunity and accelerate their chances for advancement. Remember, just because your employees may be relevant and hardworking, it doesn’t guarantee advancement. So, make it a point to help them get there.

8. Proving Their Worth

Employees never want to be stereotyped and labelled into one box only. For many, especially the younger ones, it serves as a motivational trigger.

This particular motivation has been heighten as of late from younger professionals that seek to prove themselves climbing the career ladder faster than the older generations in the workplace. This certainly is not a generational issue as many of us have been questioned about our ability to achieve at a high-level.

As a leader, encourage your employees to exceed expectations by taking responsible risks. Embrace diverse thinking and measure one’s ability to innovate. Never underestimate an employee’s ability to perform until you have properly evaluated and tested their abilities and potential.

9. Happiness

Happiness is a major motivation for reaching goals. Happiness feeds self-esteem and hope. The leader must be aware of whether their employees are happy in their work. Happiness fuels self-esteem and gives people hope for a better tomorrow. We are all victims of taking our work too seriously. Step back and enjoy the journey. Your motivation to achieve is ultimately based on earning a living that brings you tremendous joy and satisfaction.

As a leader, be aware of whether your employees are satisfied in their work and always approach this topic in your conversation with them. Never assume. Employees will smile to save their jobs even if they aren’t content. Assure your employees happiness shines and allow the previous eight motivational factors to influence the process organically.

Motivation is dynamic, it changes over time. Having a full understanding of what employees want to achieve as individuals, and showing them how to do it, is the main principle. A group of motivated employees build a strong, engaged and high performing team. What do you think is a major factor that impacts employee motivation? Write to us at