How To Create A Motivating & Satisfying Work Environment

image of a motivating and satisfying work environment

What You Need to Know to Motivate Your Employees

If you were to ask your employees what a motivating work environment looks like, what do you think they would respond with?

Many factors can influence a person’s drive towards succeeding in their career. That’s why there’s a science behind what motivates people.

There are individual factors to think of that would have an effect on a person’s motivation. Furthermore, there are external factors that managers have no control over.

A manager’s job is to ensure that their team has space where they’re most likely to find their driving force.

And we get it! Motivating others is not an easy task to do.

As a manager, we know you’ve got a million things on your mind, but keeping your employees on the right path should take precedence.  

The best thing a good manager can do is improve the space in which your team functions.

This means understanding what makes them tick. What underlying factors affect them and how can you best inspire them to perform their best?

Before we answer that question let’s first dive into the science behind motivation.

Motivation According to Science

Defining motivation has been a task in itself.  Researchers have different theories when it comes to motivation in educational, social, and organizational psychology.

As of late, research has become more unified when it comes to labeling motivation and what it means overall.

Motivation & Learning

Image of office employees learning a new task

One thing to be aware of is how your seasoned employees differ from those you hire fresh out of their studies.

The main difference here is that some already know what they’re doing (mostly anyway). Their learning curve is much smaller since their main focus is on developing their already advanced skill set.

Those interns you just promoted to full time employees still have a lot to learn about the field they’re in. They already got their feet wet, but now they have to learn how to swim.

It’s smart to motivate your employees based on their experience level.

Types of Goals

According to Kou Murayama, a professor at the University of Reading, there are two ways that a person learns. This is because there are two primary goals they set when they seek to learn something.

On one hand, we have a type of motivation driven by performance goals. On the other, we have a type of motivation driven by mastery goals.

focused employees in a motivating work environment

Stay with me here!

Say person ‘A’ performs a problem-solving task with the intention of improving their intellectual capacity. Person ‘B’ performs the same task with the intention of performing well compared to their peers.

In the short-term, person ‘B’ will do better at a memory test of their task. Yet, person ‘A’ will retain more information than person ‘B’ in the long-term.

In this example, performance goals were the driving factor for person ‘B.’ Mastery goals were the driving force behind person ‘A’ and their motivation to learn.

Ultimately, you want to have most of your employees fall under the mastery type motivation. This way, by encouraging a mastery-based motivating work environment, your employees will hold on to info in the long-term.

Retaining info long-term will not only help them in their career but they will be more competent at their job. It’s a win-win for both your employees and the company.

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How is Motivation Related to Job Satisfaction and Behavior

Image of a satisfied and motivated office employee

Does a motivated employee equate to a satisfied employee?

Well, it depends.

The relationship between motivation and satisfaction can get tricky. While motivation and job satisfaction are sometimes used interchangeably, they differ greatly in some instances.

Take for example an average employee working for a large firm.

They have something that motivates them to show up to work every day. Yet this ‘something’ may not have anything to do with what satisfies them in their position.

For all we know, this person can hate their job. Their sole reason for staying could be their salary because without it, they’ll be living in a lavish box under a bridge.

Thus, a person’s motivation can exist independently from their job satisfaction.

We’re digging a little deeper here.

Motivation has more to do with a person’s drive to fulfill their needs. Satisfaction is an emotional response that a person can have towards their current position.

This isn’t to say that motivation does not play a part in how satisfied a person is with their job. It’s simply considered a component of job satisfaction.

Intrinsic Motivation

showing accomplishment from a motivating work environment

Intrinsic motivation refers to the pleasure one gets from performing a task out of genuine interest or enjoyment.

This is different from extrinsic motivation, which drives people to behave with regard to a known reward or consequence.

Look at it this way.

If you see a person reading a book, do you think they’re reading it because they have to get a good grade in a class? Or are they reading it because they have a real passion for it?

One is internally rewarding while the other is external.

When one performs an activity that is intrinsically rewarding, it invokes positive feelings in a person.

This is akin to the feeling one gets when they volunteer or when they help someone in need.

Intrinsic Rewards

Example image of extrinsic rewards

Research shows that if you motivate a person with external rewards, then this can undermine any internal rewards that a person may feel.

The more rewarding the task internally, the more that person will do well because they earn a sense of accomplishment.

It creates confusion otherwise because a person may try to find justification for their behavior. It’s probable that they will second guess themselves and wonder if their behavior is in fact due to their genuine satisfaction.

Do they like to feel rewarded internally or do they like the acclaim that accompanies it?

Use intrinsic based motivation when an employee is having a hard time performing a task or if there’s an important deadline they need to meet.     

Don’t get us wrong, extrinsic based motivation has its place and time. An intrinsically motivating work environment, however, is best to maintain employee satisfaction in the long-term.

What Can You Do As A Manager?

satisfied office managers leaving their motivating work environment

What does motivating employees have to do with a manager’s position?

Everything actually.

According to a Gallup report, only 2 out of 10 employees will agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

For one thing, managers take on a role model position upon accepting manager status. You and other managers alike have a responsibility to your employees and to the company as well.

Another important goal for a responsible manager is ensuring that your employees have the tools they need to stay productive and get their jobs done.

There are going to be times that call for exceptional optimism when everything seems bleak. And it’s going to be your job to be that standing pillar in the midst of chaos.

The most important thing you can do is to create a motivating work environment that enables your employees to feel satisfied.

  1. Get rid of anything that causes job dissatisfaction
  2. Enable employees to feel motivated which in turn will promote job satisfaction

Address What Makes Your Employees Unhappy

Here are some of the top reasons why employees find themselves unhappy in their job:

1. People Don’t Quit Their Jobs, They Quit Their Managers

Ever heard of this saying?

You probably have, because it’s true.

One of the top reasons why people are not satisfied with their jobs and why they end up quitting is because of their relationship with their boss.

For employees, it’s extremely disengaging to feel unsupported by a boss or manager.

Poor leadership, lack of organization, micromanaging, the list goes on. These are all reasons why employees feel the need to seek out better opportunities.

2. They Are Unpaid

Pay your employees. That’s all you have to do.

It sounds like such a simple fix yet why is it still on our list?

For one thing, some businesses are not made aware of the legal repercussions. In their effort to keep their finances in check, they’re risking the backlash of their employees and any legal actions they choose to take.

In some worst-case scenarios, businesses may be aware of these laws but choose to ignore them. Also for the sake of saving their money.

In other cases, a company may not even have the money to pay their employees. The company could be facing a steady decline in revenue or other long-term hindrances that affect their ability to pay up.

Sadly, this happens all too often and employees take a back seat to the company’s most pressing financial issues.

3. Limited Career Growth

The longer your employees stay at one company, the more they expect to grow.

This goes for most people.

If there’s no chance for improvement, your employees are going to look elsewhere for better opportunities.

If they don’t feel like their job is offering them any value, they’re not going to feel as invested in the company as you’d like them to be.

Thus, an important factor in developing a motivating work environment is ensuring that employees feel they are on a long-term path to personal success.

Find What Motivates Your Employees Most

Something very important to remember here is that your employees will appreciate transparency.

This will make them feel like their opinion is heard and they are valuable.

There are others way to stimulate intrinsic motivation. One way is to pose a challenge to your employees.

Image of a challenging task

Break up the monotony of the workplace by giving them a challenge that they must overcome. This can take the form of a difficult task or a group project that requires extensive brainstorming.

Once they overcome said challenge, this will meet their need for self-worth. They’ll feel more enabled to take on ambitious tasks and willing to take on more than they would have before.

Know when and how to empower your employees too.

employees teambuilding in a motivating work environment

Allow them to take part in decision-making.

Take care not to overdo it when giving your employees too many tasks or too much info to handle. Providing them with extra tasks may have the opposite effect of empowering them.

Lastly, try to pique your employee’s interest. Find a way to stimulate their curiosity so they find value in their job.

Remember, when employees find a genuine interest in what they learn and do, they’re more likely to retain that info in the future.

Here’s the Takeaway

Theories developed by Maslow and Herzberg show that a person is more productive, creative, and loyal to their employers when their job satisfies them.

The best place to start is by asking your employees what they want out of their jobs. There’s only so much that money can get a person.

Of course, everyone has basic needs that only a salary can remedy, but what’s going to get your employees to stay?

Better yet, what is going to keep them fully invested in the company and working to their ultimate potential?

Embrace a steady set of principles to invoke intrinsically motivating work environment and you’ll start to see a change in the way that your employees see the workplace.

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