Your employees’ motivation: its impact and ways to boost it

By Robert Half on 14/03/2017

It is general knowledge that personnel morale and the atmosphere at work determine your employees’ motivation. Nobody wants to work somewhere where colleagues barely say good morning to each other, where people are always complaining and where birthdays and small successes pass unnoticed. But does your employees’ motivation have a direct impact on your company’s performance? ? And if so, how can you, as an employer ensure your personnel feel good at work and are motivated motivated to play their part?

How motivated are Belgian employees?

A study by Securex shows that at least 1 out of 5 Belgian employees is unmotivated and not enthusiastic about their work. A quarter of workers say that their employers are of little significance to them and that they feel no bond with the organization that employs them. 23% would not even defend their employer towards others. These are impressive figures that can be quite costly for your company, not only because unmotivated employees perform less well, but also because they are absent more often, provide a poorer service and start looking for other jobs faster. The opposite is just as true of course: motivated employees.

  1. are prepared to change up a gear and make an extra effort;
  2. take initiatives and help think about possible improvement processes
  3. are productive, energetic and enthusiastic, which rubs off on their colleagues;
  4. have a low rate of absenteeism and stay longer with their employers.

Although one discontented employee might not seem to be a matter for concern, the effect can spread and eventually do a huge amount of damage – not only amongst the rest of your personnel but also amongst your clients. One damning review by an unhappy client can sometimes be enough to cause permanent damage to your reputation. Moreover, the departure of even one personnel member involves a lot of costs.

Your employees’ autonomous motivation is tremendously important

Although we often regard motivation as a monolithic block, the term really divides into different sub-types. The Self-Determination Theory (SDT) – one of the most recent motivation theories suggests that more motivation does not necessarily give better results if the source of the motivation is external rather than internal. Scientists differentiate between ‘controlled motivation’, whereby the employee feels internal or external pressure to perform, and ‘autonomous motivation’, whereby employees do their jobs spontaneously and gladly, because they find it meaningful or are passionate about it. As an employer, you have every advantage in stimulating autonomous motivation, because only that type of motivation produces more productivity and better results.

Keep your personnel motivated

If your personnel are motivated and content,not only will their attitude towards their job change, but also their attitude towards their colleagues, their superiors and the organization in general. Fortunately, there are many ways to bring about that change.

1.Create an open dialogue

In most companies, the communication is ‘top-down’. Employees must listen to what their employers have to say. By reversing the roles, you can keep a finger on the pulse and problems will not have the chance to escalate. Moreover, you show your personnel that their opinions count, which can only benefit their commitment and zeal for work. If employees have meaningful options, they have more autonomy and feel less like their work is being imposed on them.

2. Provide training and support

The least motivated workers feel that their talents and abilities are not fully used, or they have the feeling that they can’t manage their job and that they don’t get enough help. Whatever the specifics of your personnel’s situation, they need training to hone their skills and to acquire new ones. If employees are allowed to trace out their own career paths they develop more self-confidence and a strong bond with ‘their’ company.

3. Promote a healthy (healthier) lifestyle

Although, strictly speaking, it is outside your sphere of influence, mentally and physically healthy employees are also happier employees. In addition, they are ill less often and their productivity is higher. That is why it is important to encourage your personnel to stand up or walk around for five minutes every hour – a minor effort that gives an enormous boost to mood and energy levels. Finally, as a manager you are perhaps flattered by employees who clock up long days, but a ‘who works most hours’ competition only increases the number of burn-outs, not productivity.

4. Reward good work

If your personnel work hard for the company they need to know that their efforts are valued. That need not be difficult. You can achieve a lot simply by complimenting them during a staff meeting or – if you want to celebrate the whole team – by taking them for lunch sometime.

What exactly motivates personnel varies from organization to organization, but the basic rules are the same everywhere. If you listen to what your employees need and take the right action in response, motivation, commitment and productivity will follow almost automatically.


Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, with 12 recruitment bureaus in Belgium, including our recruitment agency in Luxembourg, Robert Half can provide you with assistance including temporary office staffing, where and when you need it.

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