Julie Tucker
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How to boost motivation at work

There are times when we are not as motivated at work as we once were and this can lead to a dip in our levels of job satisfaction, as well impacting our mental health.

There can be many reasons why people feel this way. It can be a daunting topic for employers, managers and human resources professionals to tackle, due to the wide scope of the causes and effects. So, what are the potential causes of a lack of motivation?

Tiredness and lack of sleep

A lack of sleep and feeling continually tired can cause employees to have no energy – and consequently no motivation. This can become a vicious circle. A heavy workload, tight schedule and stress can affect sleep. This can cause tiredness at the office.

Around 50% of employees have admitted to falling asleep at work at some point! Falling further behind with tasks causes additional stress, which can potentially keep you awake at night. This is how the cycle continues.

Mental health issues

Mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, can make productivity at work an even greater challenge. Many employees say feeling unhappy at work negatively impacts their mental wellbeing, with 28% saying they struggle to find any enjoyment in other areas of their life too.

Lack of inspiration and creativity

Creativity is essential for the workplace to thrive. Many business leaders view it as the engine that drives the company. However, if you’re not feeling inspired in the office, a lack of creativity will creep in. Without inspiration, people may feel stuck in a rut and their productivity will decrease.

Conflict at work

Conflict in the workplace affects an organisation’s performance and productivity. Whether it’s conflict between managers and employees, or between colleagues on the same team, it creates tension and increases stress levels. Ultimately, this can result in project failure, high absenteeism and dissatisfied customers.

Lack of reward

Feeling unappreciated at work has a massive effect on motivation. While interesting and challenging activities can be rewarding in their own right, 46% of employees say they feel their achievements are never recognised by the management, according to a survey of 2,000 working people. This makes them feel less like making the extra effort.

Achieving potential

If your employees aren’t achieving their full potential, motivation is a key component to improving job satisfaction and unlocking potential. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as doing an activity because it is satisfying, rather than for some separate consequence. Extrinsic motivation refers to when someone does an activity to attain some additional outcome, such as a reward.

As a manager, you need to strike a balance to inspire team members’ motivation, providing activities that are satisfying, while offering rewards when needed as an extra motivational tool.

You need to be inspirational as an individual. As a senior member of staff, leading by example can certainly help.

Motivation as an employee

Each individual employee needs to set goals that are intrinsically rewarding. While the employer can reward routine tasks to boost motivation, this acknowledges that some activities are boring.

According to American author and motivational expert Daniel Pink, sometimes employers should allow people to complete the tasks their own way. This can increase variety and motivation because it’s giving people the opportunity to use their skills and imagination.

The secret is to design goals – not chores. The use of calendars and to-do lists creates a clear path to chart the progress of each task and project. Physical calendars and written to-do lists mean you can actually tick off a job when it’s done. This is far more satisfying than continuing day-to-day without any monitor on progress, as it can feel like the tasks are never-ending and this leads to a feeling of the “daily grind” and like we’re not actually achieving anything, when the opposite is true.

Open communication

Managers and employees must have open conversations with each other about how to manage the workload. Employees need to highlight and discuss any triggers halting their motivation.

As a manager, it’s important to praise your team so they never have the feeling that their efforts are unappreciated. Encourage teamwork and idea-sharing. Celebrate employee achievements and team accomplishments. Avoid praising one employee above others and concentrate on the team ethic. This gives colleagues a sense that they are all working together towards a common goal and encourages them to keep motivated, as they won’t want to let the side down.

While teamwork is important, giving employees the freedom to work independently when needed is also recommended – people need to feel they can succeed as an individual. This is centred on each individual’s confidence. When working as part of a team, the more confident and outgoing members will always seem to shine. A manager must help to set professional goals that align with everyone.

It can be a fine balancing act to get it right and keep everyone motivated and enjoying job satisfaction. Less experienced leaders may assume that common factors will motivate all employees, but this isn’t the case.

Getting to know your team members as individuals and finding out what makes them tick professionally is something that comes with knowledge and experience. The key is ensuring everyone feels they are making a valuable contribution.

Motivation in coworking spaces

Research has shown working in a coworking space can be fulfilling and motivational because the flexible environment supports the fulfilment of individual needs.

Often, intrinsic motivation is more prevalent in coworking spaces because workers have more chance to work independently. They can complete tasks in a way that brings them maximum satisfaction, rather than following a corporate strategy.

When workers have a chance to demonstrate their own competence, using their skills and imagination, this leads to intrinsic motivation, a general feeling of wellbeing and psychological growth.

When you feel passionate about your job and know you’re doing it well, your happiness at work will increase naturally.

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