Motivation in the Workplace: 7 practices to encourage team productivity

Employees are the most important value for any company. They are the fundamental axis that makes the business work and there are many studies that point to motivation as the main driver of performance. Therefore, if as team leaders we are not able to maintain their motivation, the consequences will be reflected in productivity, globally affecting the entire company and its future. 

Extrinsic Motivation vs Intrinsic Motivation 

Before we start thinking about ways to motivate our employees, we need to consider the two types of motivation that all we human beings have. 

First, we have the extrinsic motivation and, as its name suggests, it is the one that comes from outside. That is, the one related to incentives and rewards. 

Although at first this type of motivation is very effective, in the long run it tends to lose power. The why is logical: once we get used to the rewards, if they are not increased, they stop having an effect. 

An example of an extrinsic motivator is the salary at the end of the month. And, although it is an important factor, since it generates security and emotional well-being, it is not the most decisive nor is it the one that most influences employee motivation. 

So, what kind of motivation should we foster in companies? The one that comes from ourselves: intrinsic motivation. 

Intrinsic motivation is what keeps us positive and energized without the need for an external source. In general, this type of motivation stems from the desire of each person to overcome challenges, grow personally and professionally, and from the satisfaction we get from knowing that we do a good job. 

Therefore, if we want to boost the work motivation of employees, we must stop focusing on rewards and focus on what keeps the staff’s desire to always give their 100%  

Below, we share with you 7 practices that will help you achieve that goal. 

7 practices to promote employee motivation and boost performance 

The effectiveness of intrinsic motivation has a scientific basis. In “ The neuroscience of motivation”, scientists Dean Mobbs and Walter McFarland point out that dopamine is the main neurotransmitter responsible for stimulating the commitment of employees in the execution of their tasks. 

Following their theories, the application of the next practices will result in employees who are more motivated, satisfied and engaged in the success of the organization. 

1. Setting attainable goals

When setting goals, assigning tasks and dividing up projects, it is essential to take into account the capabilities and limits of each employee. 

A level of demand that is too low can end up boring the best qualified professionals, which will not bring them any kind of satisfaction; while a difficulty that is too high implies the risk of not reaching the goal, generating stress and frustration. 

The key is to find an intermediate balance that motivates employees to move the needle with the certainty that they will get the job done. 

2. Foster communication and make expectations clear

It is important that the aspirations of the team are aligned with the needs of the company. 

As leaders, it is our responsibility to clearly and transparently communicate what our expectations are about the role of employees, and indicate how they will be rewarded and how their professional development will be throughout the time they spend in the business. 

With this information in mind, we give the most ambitious employees the opportunity to develop a vision of the future that motivates them to work to reach the top. 

3. Monitor the work environment

The work environment is one of the dimensions that most influence the behavior of employees. 

A good work environment will encourage the desire to go to work, generates trust, enhances teamwork and, in addition, serves to attract and retain talent. More than enough reasons to keep it under control. 

The use of tools that allow us to measure and evaluate the state of the workplace climate will help us to know what areas of our management are the best valued by our staff, and what we should pay more attention to improve them and, consequently, also improve employee motivation. 


4. Offer autonomy, but with opportunities for teamwork

The ability to improve personally and professionally is closely related to the ability to self-manage one’s own responsibilities. 

Autonomy at work means having the power to decide, within previously established limits, how to carry out tasks. When employees are able to organize themselves and use their skills to generate results, satisfaction and motivation skyrocket.  

However, when difficulties appear, it is essential to have the support of colleagues to achieve goals and avoid frustrations. 

5. Recognition of a job well done

According to a survey from Gallup: only one in three employees in the United States stated that they received recognition or praise for their good work in the last seven days from their direct managers. 

A fact that is still curious since it is proven that the simple but effective act of giving thanks is a powerful motivator. 

When we praise a good job, we are generating in the employees a sense of achievement that encourages the repetition of the behaviors that have fostered that recognition, which increases productivity, but also employee commitment and fidelity. 

6. Give employees the opportunity to learn continuously

All of us have the need to develop and grow professionally, expanding our knowledge, skills and competencies. This allows us to gradually acquire the level of expertise necessary to master our area of performance and assume greater responsibilities. 

Therefore, it is essential to ensure a continuous training plan for all employees of the organization: participation in workshops, webinars, conferences, courses, talks, meetings between professionals to share experiences… 

Without the opportunity to evolve, employees stagnate and motivation disappears. 

7. Design a fair reward plan

One of the biggest demotivators for employees is feeling that they are not being fairly rewarded for their efforts. 

Although it is true that money is not everything and it is not the most decisive motivational factor, unfair treatment will generate responses of aversion, toxicity and apathy. 

To avoid this situation, it’s crucial to create an equitable reward plan with all employees, avoiding gender gaps and disproportionate differences for no apparent reason. 

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