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  • Lee Calver
  • 20 January 2015
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Employee motivation ‘key to productivity’

A global study in 2013 revealed that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. The 142-country study on the ‘State of the Global Workforce’ found that the majority of workers across the world (63%) are “not engaged”, meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary efforts in organisational goals or outcomes.

Unfortunately the negative statistics don’t end there. Gallup’s research revealed that 24% are “actively disengaged”, indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to colleagues. Looking at it in terms of numbers, this translates into 900 million "not engaged" and 340 million "actively disengaged" workers around the world.

Regardless of region or industry, these figures should make employers consider their current policies, procedures and working practices to ensure their staff are not the ones “actively disengaged” in the workplace.

Off the back of the study, American research-based, global performance-management consulting company, Gallup, advised organisations that they must learn how to maintain high productivity workplaces and grow their customer bases in widely varying social, cultural and economic environments.

Employee Motivation Day

January seems to be month to discuss motivation and improving employee engagement. Yesterday was ‘Blue Monday’ and the internet was awash with articles discussing what employers can do to support their employees.

Also this week, we see the UK’s first ever Employee Motivation Day – on Wednesday 21 January 2015 – which has been created to inspire passion and appreciation across the UK’s workforce.

Launched by Argos for Business, the day is in response to the revelation that a ‘humdrum hour’ is affecting over a quarter of British workers, with 26% of the workforce admitting they lose motivation at work between three and four o’clock each day.

Looking at employee motivation levels, a nationwide survey carried out by Argos for Business, also revealed that ‘feeling valued’ by their boss was the top motivational factor in helping them achieve more during their working day.

As an employer, tomorrow is being recognised as your chance to acknowledge the outstanding work carried out by your employees each day.

To coincide with Employee Motivation Day Adrian Webster, one of the UK's leading motivational business speakers, has unveiled his top ten tips for motivation.

To get involved, share your great motivational stories via the Facebook page or Twitter feed and don’t forget to use the hash tags #NatMotivateDay #EmployeeMotivationDay #emd.

What else can be done?

It is important to remember that your employees spend a considerable amount of their lives working and therefore it is vital that the workplace has a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. It may sound a simple concept, but if the atmosphere they are surrounded with for a substantial part of their day is a positive one, they will be more motivated to work hard.

Japan

Some domestic Japanese companies have successfully improved their business performance by creating working conditions that better motivate their employees, including four-day work weeks.

A recent report looked at one such company, Aki Co., located in a mountainous area of Kunisaki, that manufacturers and sells kits of cardboard pieces that can be assembled into various 3-D objects.

It was revealed that the company’s 13 employees work ten hours a day from Monday through to Thursday, while company meetings, which were considered a waste of time, were abolished, resulting in a boost in employee motivation.

Since the introduction of the four-day working week in June 2013, the firm’s sales have risen nearly 30%.

Aki Co. President, Yuki Matsuoka, commented:

“If we worked under the same sense of time as that in urban areas, we couldn’t make a living in a provincial area.

“I have tried to improve productivity and shorten work hours so my employees can use the spare time for local community activities and raising their children.”

The report concluded with the following statement:

“Unlocking people’s motivation can benefit both companies and Japanese society.”

The sentiment should not be confined to Japanese businesses only though, and organisations all over the world must take heed and consider making changes to improve the motivation levels of their workforce.

Is more money the answer?

While there will be employees who are motivated solely by money, employers need to realise that career development must be addressed.

According to recent findings from the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI), over two thirds of employees have not had a career development discussion with their employer in the last 12 months, and 42% feel they don’t have a clear career path available to them.

Interestingly, the survey also discovered that when given the option between advancing to a higher level in their organisation or acquiring new skills, 68% would opt for new skills. Furthermore, 59% would choose the opportunity to gain new skills over higher pay.

With so many organisations failing to offer this to their staff, it appears they will struggle to retain them over the coming months. The survey found that as many as 67% disclosed that they will look for a new job in the next year.

Commenting on the findings, Helen Palmer, EMEA Regional Learning & Development Manager – APAC & EMEA Kelly Services, said: 

“In the current candidate-led market, employees have the upper hand. Businesses must therefore ensure that in order to encourage retention, they engage their employees, offering the skills, training and support they need in order to help them progress their careers in the long term.

“Yet this is clearly not happening in many businesses; employees are eager to learn new skills but aren’t always being given the opportunity to do so and as a result, many are looking for jobs elsewhere.”

Getting your employees to work to the best of their ability and remain motivated is of course a challenge for employers, but is one that shouldn’t be shied away from as the benefits in ensuring motivation levels are high in your workforce cannot be undervalued.