What Is Employee Motivation?

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Employee motivation refers to the forces and reasons that inspire employees to engage in their work. Research shows that motivated and productive employees contribute to the company's profitability. Employers work to increase employee motivation because research indicates that motivated employees lead to increased work quality and improved attendance.

What motivates employees varies depending on the individual. Many employees are motivated by financial rewards, while others like a combination of recognition and financial rewards. Managers must interact with each employee in order to determine what motivates each individual and then develop an individualized approach.

Once managers find what motivates employees, they can use the information to reach organizational goals on a daily basis. For instance, the manager can tie rewards to the ability to meet customer perception levels. When managers know what motivates employees, they can leverage that information so that the employees are effective.

Although employee motivation varies from employee to employee, some motivators include money, nonmonetary incentives, job promotions, paid time off, feedback and recognition.

Managers also must consider how frequently they offer motivational items and the number of rewards offered at one time. Offering only one reward demotivates employees, according to research, who say that one reward only motivates existing top performers, instead of motivating underperformers.