Motivation is in Crisis: Here’s Why |

Engaged and motivated employees are a prerequisite of success for any business. Engagement and motivation have been discussed extensively by psychologists, as well as HR and L&D practitioners for over 25 years. High engagement and motivation have consistently been shown to correlate with positive individual and organisational outcomes.  

Studies show that businesses with highly engaged workforces benefit from increased productivity, revenues and profits. Engaged, motivated employees are a prerequisite for a firm’s ongoing commercial success (Hill & Birkinshaw, 2012), leading organisations to spend hundreds of millions on employee engagement programs (Morgan, 2017). 

Since the pandemic, employee disengagement and demotivation have resulted in more than £5 trillion in productivity losses for businesses worldwide (Gallup, 2020). Employee disengagement is a secondary crisis, and the new normal of hybrid and dispersed teams is only likely to worsen employee demotivation and disengagement. 

Why is engagement in crisis? 

Full-time remote work just isn’t as engaging. Our research found that 75% of employees want face-to-face feedback from managers and peers, and a mere 35% are satisfied with receiving feedback via video call. Employees who spend 60-80% of their time working remotely are the most engaged according to Gallup research.  

Definitions of engagement and motivation have broadened beyond employees’ relation to their immediate role, to incorporate the social and psychological contexts of the workplace. As demonstrated by the ‘Great Resignation’ (record employee churn) in 2021, the pandemic shifted employee expectations. Deloitte’s Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey showed that half of Gen Z workers choose a company based on its values over other factors.  

A 2022 report by Indeed showed found that employee burnout is trending, with 52% of all workers feeling burned out. This is a 9% increase on pre-COVID burnout rates. Defined as depletion, reduced investment in one’s job and decreased productivity, burnout has been found to triple an employee’s likelihood of looking for another job (Gallup). 67% of employees say that the pandemic worsened their mental health, with 60% of remote and 50% of office workers saying they find it more difficult to ‘unplug’ from their work (Indeed).  

How can companies reengage their people?  

People need different things to feel engaged. Insight into your employees’ levels of resilience and comfort with ambiguity is advantageous for ensuring that your business reaps the benefits of a highly engaged workforce. Personality assessments can provide vital information about your workforce’s resilience and reactions to uncertainty. This information will help managers to steer and motivate them more effectively, increasing their engagement level. Thomas International even offers special reports on how to motivate employees in a hybrid working context, based on their personality profile.  

The insights gained from a simple emotional intelligence assessment offer a new language that can help facilitate a discussion about how best to support your employees. The assessment captures detailed insights into how comfortable your employees are in understanding and managing their own and others’ emotions. This includes their capacity to manage stress and relationships, and their intrinsic levels of adaptability and self-motivation. An employee’s emotional intelligence report can also be used to identify development opportunities that will lead to improved performance and help with retention. 

Assessing company-wide engagement will also enable you to boost motivation through employee-led initiatives developed from the key survey findings. Engagement interventions fall into three categories; role, relationship and reward. In the role category, challenge, freedom and clear purpose are keys to engagement. A culture of trust in which feedback is heard is also key. Finally, development opportunities and recognition have been shown to improve engagement and retention. Take interventions in these areas to the next level by tailoring them to the individual’s unique personality using psychometrics.  

For more in-depth insights into how psychological factors can help you motivate and reengage your employees, download our guide to Motivation and Engagement.