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Motivation Whats the Point


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Businesses today face a constantly changing and increasingly demanding marketplace. Competition is fierce and only those companies that can change and adapt will continue to be successful.

Probably the most important asset in a successful business is its people. There is a direct correlation between the performance of people and the performance of the business they work for. So why is it that businesses seem to overlook this, often treating their people badly.

Throughout the UK and in all business sectors there can be found large numbers of individuals who feel undervalued and lacking in motivation - often just turning up, doing the job and going home again.

Of 1.7 million employees questioned, in a recent Gallup survey, about their commitment to their work, the leadership and training given to them and, the use their employers made of their skills, more than 80% admitted they were not engaged at work.

Of these people:

Motivation - What's the point?

70% stated they are less motivated today than they used to be.

80% stated they could perform significantly better if they wanted to.

50% stated they only put enough effort into their work to keep their job.

Fig 1. Gallup Survey

The Gallup survey (Fig 1) should make disturbing reading for any business concerned with keeping their staff.

Put simply, people create organisations, successful organisations develop capable people and, capable people keep organisations flexible and responsive to the constantly changing business environment.

Is your business struggling to keep good people? Does your business suffer from frequent staff turnover? Do you think that a good salary is all that's required to keep and motivate your employees? If you answer yes to some or all of these questions, it's time to question your approach to the people you employ or manage.

So, why is keeping staff motivated good for business?

So, why is keeping staff motivated good for business?

Here are some reasons:

  • motivated staff are more productive and higher productivity usually means higher profits.
  • well motivated staff provide better levels of customer service, keeping the customers happy.
  • staff who are motivated are more likely to stay with the company. They grow in experience and become even more valuable to their employer.
  • successful retention of staff keeps the costs of recruitment and training down.

Much has been written over the years on what motivates people; perhaps Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1954) represents a good guide for managers when considering the needs of their people.

Maslow identified five motivating factors:

  1. Physiological needs (including hunger, thirst, sleep)
  2. Safety needs (security & protection from danger)
  3. Social needs (belonging, acceptance, social life, friendship & love)
  4. Self-esteem (self-respect, achievement, status, recognition)
  5. Self-actualisation (growth, accomplishment, personal development)

The importance of these needs will change dependent on the current situation and will reflect the individual's needs and desires

Herzberg (1959) identified 14 factors that were the sources of good or bad feelings

Motivating factors

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Possibility of growth
  4. Advancement
  5. Responsibility
  6. The work itself

Sources of Job dissatisfaction

  1. Company policy & administration
  2. Supervision - technical
  3. Interpersonal relations
  4. Salary
  5. Status
  6. Job security
  7. Personal life
  8. Working Conditions

Salary is in interesting area, although many businesses think that good pay is sufficient to attract and retain staff the reality is a little different. It is true that good pay will satisfy people in the short term - it will not be sufficient to keep them if other areas such as achievement, recognition, responsibility and growth are not considered.

In 1983, the Public Agenda Foundation (USA) conducted a study to determine the top ten qualities people want in a job. And while this study is almost 20 years old, it provides some valuable insights that still ring true today.

Here's what they discovered employees want:

Here's what they discovered employees want:
  1. Respect
  2. Interesting work
  3. Recognition
  4. A chance to develop skills
  5. Have their ideas listened to
  6. Responsibility
  7. Seeing the results of their work
  8. Working for efficient managers
  9. Challenge
  10.  Being informed

There is an obvious thread here; high wages, long holidays and benefit packages aren't alone sufficient to motivate and retain staff.

Businesses must recognize that there are better motivators than money.

Many employees have never worked in an environment in which they felt they were appreciated and could effect the direction of a business. Yet, these are essential feelings that you must nurture in your staff relationships if you want to retain them, see them grow and develop into people who will contribute to your business using their fullest capabilities.

About the Author

Written by Michael Wright of  WrightPlace Consulting, a consulting company specializing in helping you develop your business.. You can reach WrightPlace Consulting by emailing or online at

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2006-06-29 23:56:05 in Business Articles

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