Employee Incentives News: Employee Motivation Ideas: What Employees Need (Not Want!)

A survey of 1,000 UK office workers commissioned by Workfront could help provide UK businesses get a clearer and deeper understanding of what external factors truly affect employee motivation and productivity. We can all guess around ‘duvet days’ and ‘dogs at work’ that employees want but with the answers coming out as to what they feel they need, including flexible working, an understanding boss and even office music, it’s always wise to have a fresh look at what motivates the employee.  Jada Balster, Marketing Director, EMEA at Workfront commented:

Jada Balster, Marketing Director, EMEA at Workfront commented:
“There is often a chasm between what businesses think their employees need and what their employees actually need. This survey confirms that workers are not primarily motivated by money, but hugely value their ‘work-life balance.’ It is imperative that businesses recognise this shift as it can be the difference between thriving and failing. The implementation of modern work management technologies in the workplace will give employees the flexibility to manage their hours in ways that best suit their working styles. The result will be happy, motivated workers and increased productivity.”


Over half (52%) of British workers picked ‘flexi hours’ as the perk that most motivates them to be better employees. However an Aviva ‘The Workplace of Tomorrow’ report shows that when 2% of employers admit to refusing a request for flexible working and 11% of employees said their request had been refused – it’s something that needs work. On the flip side, 64% of employees would be more likely to stay at a business that offered flexible working conditions, 36% also citing this as a deal-breaker for any new role they consider – and 35% of businesses surveyed said retention was a top priority for them in the next year.

The most common change employers expect to see is staff no longer working the traditional hours of 9am to 5pm (38%), with 30% anticipating more staff will want to work from home. Indeed more than a quarter (28%) of businesses think technology will play an increased role and lead to an opportunity for a general reduction in the hours worked.

Unlimited holiday / Bonus/ Employee Benefits

‘Unlimited holidays’ has been identified by 31% as a prime motivator in the workplace, in second place was ‘generous bonus packages’ at 40% and 19.5% felt that they wanted Employee Benefits Packages.

Unlimited holidays feels relatively new – but according to Glassdoor, this kind of perk makes sense from a branding perspective but it can also provide high-yielding benefits. Unlimited time-off can play a massive part in recruiting and retaining top talent. Allowing employees to recharge at their own pace, without having to meticulously count their annual leave days.

Should you indulge your employees and could you handle such a change in direction? HRBytes cover all the pros and cons of unlimited holiday in one place, using Virgin as an example, and it’s a great read that can give you some food for thought.

An understanding boss

When asked ‘what influences you to excel at work the most’ 37% of workers cited ‘praise from my manager or boss’. Not surprisingly, 36% of workers regarded ‘criticism from a manager or boss’ as their top demotivator at work. Are you a dominance or a prestige leader?

Do you find yourself doing most of the talking in meetings? If so, you are likely a dominance-motivated leader. Whereas, if you’re doing more listening, you’re probably more prestige-oriented. Another question to ask yourself: Do you often mentally step into the shoes of your employee? If so, you are likely a prestige-motivated leader. According to Kellog insight, you need to adapt your management style to fit with what employees need.

“When you need all the people on your team to present a unified front and move quickly in a common direction when you don’t have time to have people thinking outside the box, that situation really calls for a dominant leader. Conversely, if you’re trying to get your team to innovate or produce creative solutions, that calls for more of a prestige-oriented strategy.” Read up on the guide here all about management styles. 
Ability to get on with it! (Self-motivation)

58% of UK workers consider themselves to be self-motivated and 35% of them answered ‘self-satisfaction’ when asked what influences them to excel at work.

Self-motivated employees bring overall positivity in the company’s working environment by pulling up other employees to strive for success and setting higher professional benchmarks. This not only meets the business side of the company, but also creates an amicable working sphere for everyone in your company. Monster suggests that finding these employees should be your first port of call.

Identify self-motivated individuals by using the right keywords — when you are perusing LinkedIn profiles or online resumes, you can usually find self-motivated prospects by looking for the right keywords and phrases. Eventually, develop your own list of “identifiers” but start out by looking for terms like: self-motivated, driven, strong work ethic, self-starter, hard-working, work hard/play hard, they went the extra mile, initiative, hungry, fire in the belly, they required little supervision, energetic, inspired, focused, stimulated, conscientious, highly engaged, and committed. You should begin the process by looking at the resumes and profiles of your own self-motivated employees to see which key indicators they have.”  (Read their great post on how to attract self-starters here)

Consider office layout 

When it comes to how the office environment affects productivity, it’s a pretty close call between open plan and individual offices. Workers stated they are more productive (32%) when they can see and talk to their other colleagues, while 29% prefer to be behind a door. Where do you begin? Take a look at the stats. Employees in cubicles receive 29% more interruptions than those in private offices, finds research from the University of California, Irvine but at the same time “There’s some evidence that removing physical barriers and bringing people closer to one another does promote casual interactions,” (Harvard Business Review). Try and decide what’s going to work best for your aims. Is the office even ideal? Outside of the office, 34% of workers feel they are most productive when they are able to work from home away from distractions. Another 20% relied on caffeine-power and preferred to work from a coffee shop when they needed to be at their productive best. If you are thinking about the office, consider the energy – over 83% of workers admit to listening to music to improve their productivity and 25% preferred R&B/Soul music to get their juices flowing. Rock music came in as a close second at 23%. Interestingly, 11% preferred to work to recordings of ‘ambient sounds’ like crashing waves or rainfall.