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Employee Engagement VS Motivation

Employee engagement and employee motivation are crucial to any leader to encourage for their team, engagement and motivation bring great performance and productivity levels with 71% of executives stating that employee engagement is critical to company success and employees work 20% better when motivated whilst also bringing a 26% increase in revenue with both engaged and motivated employees. Many people see engagement and motivation as being the same thing since they can be similar, but this is not true so in this blog, we’ll learn the definition and differences, how they are measured, as well as how to implement strategies to have a good balance of both factors to hopefully give a better understanding of why they are important to your organisation.

Let’s begin with a common question, what is employee engagement? Employee engagement is a two-way commitment between team members and the business itself, it is based on trust, integrity and an understanding of views and goals. Engaged employees are committed to their organisations’ goals and morals which leads them to perform well in their work and often exceed expectations or at least regularly meet set goals. Having aligned goals with the business allows the employee to have a good sense of self-growth within the organisation which leads to feeling like a fully included and cared for member of the team. Engaged employees have a clear understanding of the main purpose of the establishment and know how to fulfil objectives well, they will always be willing to learn more through training or coaching and are eager to receive positive and negative feedback to continue improving. Employees with high engagement levels show outstanding work productivity by up to 17% more than the average employee with a 10% increase in customer ratings and increased profitability of 21%.

You may be wondering, how is employee engagement measurable? Most large businesses conduct a yearly confidential employee engagement survey to identify engagement trends which can be put alongside other collected data to see the correlation between employee engagement and business performance. Pulse surveys are also conducted more frequently and are more so used as feedback on where leadership improvements are needed to further engage employees and to track engagement levels. Both surveys tend to measure three main points which are, how connected employees are to their work, how connected employees are to their team, how connected employees are to their organisation.

Now let’s take a look at what is employee motivation? Employee motivation is one or more facor(s) that cause an employee to pursue work tasks and goals, it consists of the level of commitment and energy employees hold throughout the day. There are two types of motivation, extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivations are the factors that cause the employee to work towards the fulfilment of a task or goal, these can be things such as consequences or rewards which motivate staff to work well to avoid consequences or to receive a reward. Intrinsic motivation is the act of doing something for its inherent satisfactions rather than for a reward or to avoid consequence, for example reading a book for enjoyment rather than because you have to write an essay about it or baking for enjoyment rather than the reason being there is a cake sale coming up. When intrinsically motivated, an employee will be working for enjoyment and perhaps the challenge rather than doing the task because it is their job and they want to get paid.

Employee motivation is usually measured with surveys like employee engagement, but with a much larger focus on the “, why” to each question Motivation is not easily measured in numbers and statistics since it is qualitative rather than quantitive. This leads some organisations to measure employee productivity alongside motivation since it can set a good baseline for which employees seem to be more motivated since they are outperforming the majority.

But what is the difference between employee engagement and employee motivation? Many people assume they are so similar to being the same thing that they always come as a “two-for-one deal” but this is unfortunately not true, as a motivated but disengaged employee is more likely to quit their job in search of a company with better engagement strategies and opportunities to put their motivation towards. It is also possible to have an engaged but unmotivated employee, this can happen for many reasons but ultimately they have strong bonds at work and believe in the core values of the business, yet have no personal desire to contribute more, possibly due to lack of incentive or more personal reasons such as low self-esteem. Generally, engaged employees have a far more emotional connection with their work and continually want to learn and seek more knowledge for both personal and organisational growth which keeps them persistent on their and the organisation's goals as well as showing great performance in their work. Whereas motivated employees will take the initiative on tasks and projects and will likely feel that their work is meaningful but they will also have a larger focus on the end goals or bonuses.

Typically, engaged employees are more likely to also be intrinsically motivated, and having both engaged and motivated employees is known to be the recipe for success in any organisation. Alone these traits are still good, but likely only for the short term which isn’t ideal for a company that wants long term good working employees. For example, an employee who is only extrinsically motivated may experience symptoms of burnout quite quickly, especially if the external motivators are only the negatives such as the consequences of not completing tasks. So it is clear that having both is a necessity for a successful business with happy and equally as successful employees, but how do we achieve this?

Firstly, as previously mentioned, you will want to conduct quarterly and yearly employee engagement and employee motivation surveys to track your organisation's progress and employee's performance alongside how they feel about their performance. With this information, you will be able to calculate what you already do well and where you will need to improve, take the time to listen to what your employees need from their leaders. Once you know which improvements are needed, you can choose the correct solution(s) to pursue.

Perhaps you’ll find that your employees aren’t forming close bonds in the workplace due to a multitude of reasons. It is important to remember that employees are spending long days and sometimes stressful hours within your organisation and these close bonds help greatly with engagement. If this is an issue in your workplace you may want to consider looking into creating a fun yet professional work environment or team building to boost morale and create those close knit friendships that really make a difference.

You could also find that your staff are lacking external motivators which can be one of the easiest motivational issues to solve. The goal setting process is crucial to keep employees in the know of what the core values are and where the organisation is headed, but almost more importantly is the aftermath of meeting those goals. Be sure to stay on top of congratulating and celebrating even “small” business wins in any way that you see fit for your employees. These can be things such as an office party, a relaxed team day out, or ordering (paid for) food on a working day. Different employees feel valued in different ways, so be sure to learn about their personalities and find the correct way to show your appreciation. Rewards are a great way to get employees motivated and this is why many organisations take the time to set up team contests centred around the business goal topic.

When considering different personality styles we realise people work better in certain environments depending on who they are as a person. If you notice disengaged employees, it may be that your environment is not fit for them and it’s time to make changes asap! There are many ways you can change the working environment but make sure to hold a team meeting or a 1 on 1 session with those you feel need the change. It is likely they have already subconsciously discussed their ideal working environments so it should be easy to figure out their needs, once you’ve done that you can make the necessary changes if possible, these could be allowing employees to work in pairs or groups more often, or allowing hybrid working where employees may work from home at times.

Lastly, one great way to hopefully increase both motivation and engagement is to take an in-depth look at the employee experience. From the onboarding process to the parking, from the available drinks to the dress code. Things such as the amount of workspace or break times can largely impact how an employee sees their role and how much their organisation cares about them. Is there any broken equipment around the place that's been left with an “out of order” sign for too long? When was the last time you and an employee had a casual conversation? What is the quality of the available beverages or food? Are beverages and food even provided? Do you deliver enough growth opportunities with training or coaching? There are endless factors to consider that contribute to both engagement and motivation, find the ones that are important to your employees and necessary for your workplace performance to bring in the top results and give the best opportunities to all of your employees.


The Modern Mind Group are emotioneering human performance not engineering it.

As people operations and performance consultants, we work with your business to identify and improve performance gaps so that you can be more profitable and professionally develop your people. Over 12 years of expertise in people operations and performance with results to back it all up. Why settle for the average when there is a world of possibility when you know how to achieve it? Untapped potential - Let's go get it!


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