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Are your employees motivated, engaged, neither or both?

Published on 24 Nov 2021 by Stuart Harris

Motivation can be divided into extrinsic and intrinsic forces. The former means to work for external reasons – rewards – while the latter is more related to mentality - employees working for their own sake and sense of fulfilment.

Extrinsic motivation in the workplace often refers to bonuses, promotions, awards, or privileges. They can certainly drive more engagement at work, however, they stimulate for a relatively short term. Thus, employees may ultimately lose passion and efficiency over time or even suffer from burnout or bore-out.

That’s why intrinsic motivators are essential as well. They are more efficient in the long term, especially for reaching targets and finishing what is on hand in a sense of accomplishment. Examples of intrinsic motivation are the recognition or appreciation from a supervisor. They serve as a key to unlocking an employee's complete potential in the workplace.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic are vital motivators to engage employees.

So, how do you know if your employees are motivated or engaged?

Both motivation and engagement can exist simultaneously, they also complement each other.

We have analysed four different situations that can take place at your organisation:

Scenario A: when an employee is motivated but unengaged, they will struggle to connect with the materials and tasks and will often make mistakes. They still work, but often slowly or sub-optimally.

Solution: guide them towards how they can be more efficient and successful. Point out WHY there are mistakes and how they can correct them.

Scenario B: when an employee is engaged but unmotivated, they may be interested in their job but without motivation to complete the tasks. Working is somehow a secondary priority.

Solution: provide clear instructions that are central to the task’s success.

Scenario C: when an employee is entirely unengaged and unmotivated, they will have no passion to learn and work, eventually failing to connect with the role. There will be poor working outcomes and that also drags the entire working environment down.

Solution: in this situation, I suggest you may start to think of giving up. Just kidding! Instead, mandatory work-based training is recommended. Giving clear goals, addressing their problems, and providing adequate support is essential to pull an employee’s motivated and engaged mind up.

Scenario D: when an employee is engaged and motivated, just go ahead and count your blessings! As your employee is highly concentrated, working wholeheartedly, it most likely leads to a chance of success with an optimal working environment.

Solution: keep their motivation and engagement high by regularly providing intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Find out what they find important (e.g. recognition) to keep their productivity high.

Both motivation & engagement are important to a company. It is always crucial to stimulate this mindset: “I THINK - FEEL that I have the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve the results. And the work is in line with my vision of myself”, “I FEEL a bond with the organisation and feel emotionally positive”. With this mindset, your employees will be more proactive in action-taking, their loyalty & retention will increase, and this mindset can subsequently increase company profit.

Here’s to teams who are as equally engaged as motivated!

PS: find out which activities can increase your teams’ motivation and engagement

Stuart Harris

Co-Founder and Managing Director at Team Building Asia

Stuart Harris has built Team Building Asia into Asia's most prestigious and effective team building company.

Interested finding out more about Team Building Asia programs?

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