How To Measure Employee Motivation

Philip Cleave
December 5, 2022
Employees motivating and celebrating each others success

From increased productivity, lower absenteeism and reduced staff turnover levels to improved staff/management relations, a more positive work ethic and a strengthened commitment to customers and organizational goals. There’s a lot of benefits to be gained from a happy and motivated workforce.

So, how can you tell how happy and motivated your employees are?

Well, happiness is quite personal and subjective, which makes it rather challenging to measure. But motivation levels can be impacted by common factors such as having a sense of purpose, and sufficient support and security to make one’s daily tasks feel more manageable and meaningful.

Yet, how can you tell if your organization is providing enough for its employees? And how can you keep your employees motivated?

These are both good questions and can be answered through metrics to measure staff motivation and tactics to help improve it. But before we look at these, we need to examine why employee motivation is important.

Why employee motivation matters

Many of you will be familiar with the phrase ‘an organization is only as good as its people’ – with many successful companies claiming to have the happiest and most motivated staff. In fact, research including a report from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, states that happy and motivated employees are on average 13% more efficient at work.

Not only are they more productive, but they also tend to stay longer, therefore reducing the overall turnover costs for an organization.

But motivation levels need to be continually measured and improved, because if they’re not and entire teams stop caring about their work, the negative effects of this can quickly become apparent.

Metrics to help measure employee motivation

When it comes to identifying and tracking changes in staff motivation there are a number of areas you can explore.

Monitor abrupt changes in work from home patterns

While many of us are now spending some time working from home, you should look out for any sudden change in work patterns.

Has an individual suddenly and sharply increased the number of days they work from home, without offering any explanation for it?

In such a scenario, an employee previously coming into the office a couple of days a week then suddenly increasing their number of days worked from home might indicate problems with team spirit, tension with other co-workers or, worse still, early signs of burnout.

Check for unexplained absences

Another indicator of low morale and poor motivation levels within your workforce, could be an increase in your staff absence rate.

If we discount the annual flu season and Covid related leave, then any other sudden increase in staff absences should raise a red flag for HR teams.

Of course, it could be coincidental that a number of employees have unplanned appointments and emergency situations at the same time. However, it could also have a deeper significance stemming from conflict at work, stressful projects or even a lack of interest in the job.

Whatever the cause of the problem, HR teams need to identify these trends and take the time to chat with affected employees to resolve the situation before it escalates.

Evaluate outputs

When employees are happy and committed, they’re likely to cover every last detail and always try to deliver their best work. But the opposite is also possible.

The less motivated and involved a staff member feels, the more likely they are to be careless by default, making more mistakes than others. It’s a slippery slope that HR teams need take very seriously, particularly in jobs where safety is paramount, and mistakes could lead to dangerous situations.

In the best-case scenario, you would want to be able to identify potential carelessness early through data and try to solve the issue together with the employee and their line manager.

Look out for antisocial behavior

While humans are social animals and feed off interactions with others, interacting with peers does require a bit more commitment.

It is for this reason that we know people who lack motivation are likely to put less energy into interacting with their colleagues and in some cases may even exhibit antisocial behavior. Worse still if the behavior from one individual becomes toxic, it can quickly have a more-than-proportionate impact on the atmosphere at work, draining the motivation of other employees. Consequently, it’s something that needs to be strictly monitored through team leaders and ongoing reviews.

Check for any hesitance to take on new responsibilities or projects

Highly motivated employees will eagerly jump into new assignments and try to deliver their absolute best, while demotivated staff may shy away from their responsibilities.

However, it’s not always as clear cut as this, as many other factors could explain this hesitance such as a lack of experience or training in acquiring a particular skill to help with a task. Having said that, avoiding responsibilities or displaying a disinterest for taking on a new role could indicate that an employee already has one foot out the door.

Survey staff for their feedback

While checking for changes in attitude and behavior can help you to spot any signs of discontentment from staff, there’s a lot of benefits to be gained by asking your employees directly how they feel through a survey.

From factors such as working conditions, relationships with colleagues and management, pay and benefits, to satisfaction with their role and responsibilities, job recognition and appreciation. There’s a lot of areas an employee motivation survey could cover to explore what underlying issues could be harming motivation levels within your organization.

However, if you’re to get the most valuable feedback, it’s best to run it anonymously, this way your staff will feel safe to be totally honest, without risk of any reprisal.

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

When it comes to survey questions that demonstrate high levels of staff motivation and commitment, the employee net promoter score (eNPS), is a good question to ask. This is because happy and engaged staff are more likely to recommend you to others compared to those who are not.

You can measure your eNPS by asking your staff the following eNPS question:

On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend our company to others as a great place to work?

(This works on the assumption that those closest to zero will be least likely and those closer to ten most likely to promote you)

Having reviewed your answers, you can divide your staff into the following three groups:

  • Promoters – those who rated you a nine or a ten and are considered your promoters.
  • Passives – those who rated you a seven or an eight and are categorized as passives.
  • Detractors – those who rated you anything between zero and six and are your detractors.

To calculate your eNPS, you’ll need to subtract your percentage of detractors from your percentage of promoters. Alternatively, for a simpler way to work this out you could choose to use our eNPS calculator.

You should now be left with a score of between –100 and 100. When it comes to your score, anything positive is considered good, while scores below zero are a warning sign that you need to do much more to improve levels of motivation and happiness within your work force.

How to motivate employees

Having measured staff motivation levels within your organization, you’ll now have a better idea about what might be causing problems and any areas you need to work on to improve things.

However, whatever stage you’re at, there are some more general things you can work on to improve staff motivation.

Make your work environment a pleasant place to be

No one wants to sit in a dingy, dull and uninspiring place for hours on end. By making your office space more esthetically pleasing, well-lit, functional and fun, work can become a much more pleasant and energizing experience.

The first step is to make sure your equipment is well-maintained and up to date.

Next, ensure everything is kept clean and presentable, sprucing up the office space with interesting furniture, artifacts and plants to make the environment more pleasant for staff.

Be a respectful, honest and supportive manager

It might seem obvious, but bad management is one of the key reasons employees decide to leave. Issues like respect, honesty, support and clear communication are all critical here. But there’s a lot more you can do to be a great leader and mentor.

From management training to reading inspiring books about how to better manage others. Ultimately, if you’re a good person to work for, your employees will be more likely to stay.

Offer employee rewards

It stands to reason that when there’s plenty of rewards on offer staff will be more motivated.

Think about starting an employee incentive program. Some rewards you could look to incorporate within this include.

  • A quarterly bonus
  • Private healthcare
  • Offering to pay for additional credentials or qualifications
  • Profit-sharing in your company

When people know they’ll be rewarded for a job well done, they’ll be more driven to consistently deliver great work in everything they do.

Give opportunities to grow

If your organization is expanding rapidly, giving your staff more opportunities to grow within the company can be a huge motivator. And while more money helps, there’s the added incentive of feeling like they’re really trusted and respected for their work.

If you’re opening a second location, think about which of your employees might be a good fit for a management role there. Ultimately, when your best employees are given opportunities to grow, their thinking shifts from “this is just a job that pays the bills” to “this is a role with an exciting career path.”

Share positive feedback

For staff, job satisfaction is one of the key things that keeps them motivated and fulfilled at work.

So, if customers say nice things or express appreciation for something you have done, be sure to share that feedback with your employees. Knowing that they made someone’s day not only makes staff feel great but strengthens their connection to your business.

Recognize staff achievements

Offering a staff member recognition for a job well done can have a similarly positive effect, especially if that individual put a lot of time and effort into that task. And it’s not just about the act of recognition, but the principle, because if people feel that their efforts have been appreciated, they will feel more compelled to continue working hard.

Interestingly, according to Psychology Today, investing in recognition and feedback programs, has been found to increase revenues by 26%, decrease turnover by 31% and improve customer satisfaction by 54%. So, it’s certainly worth thinking about setting up staff recognition and ongoing feedback programs if you don’t already have them.

Be flexible to staff needs

When it comes to incentives greater work flexibility, including more flexible working hours and opportunities to work from home have become increasingly important for staff – even more attractive than pay in some cases.

Whatever industry you operate in, if you want to make your organization a more desirable place to work, more flexible working arrangements is a good direction to move in. However, to do this successfully you need to have the right equipment, processes and security in place.

Create experiences that motivate and re-energize your staff

The final area you need to consider concerns the quality of the employee experiences you deliver for your staff.

From designing a great onboarding experience and investing in an employee wellness program to improving career advancement opportunities and the wider company culture. Whatever, initiatives you’ve put in place to improve the quality of experiences you deliver for staff, you need to make sure they’re consistent throughout an employee’s journey with you, from their recruitment to their ongoing development, retention and final company exit.

However, throughout of all of this you also need to be regularly gathering feedback from your employees with a raft of different staff surveys, to ensure you’re always aware of and are acting on areas of greatest concern to them. If you can do this, you’ll be better able to deliver the quality of experiences needed to motivate and re-energize your staff.

Generate the experiences your staff want to see

Measuring your employee motivation levels and then actively making any improvements you need is key to re-energizing staff. But your employees’ drive and commitment are also influenced by the experiences you deliver for them. Get the right survey tools to generate the experiences they need.

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