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In Search Of What Motivates Employees [Infographic]

Author: Matthew Gates
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Are We Slackers?

There are three kinds of employees: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Disengaged. Which type of employee are you?

There are plenty of jobs that make employees want to be engaged and actually feel engaged. These employees are passionate about their jobs, enjoy being at work and even enjoy going to work, and feel a deep connection with their company. They feel as if their company is a family and they bring fresh ideas to the table. They are willing to go the extra mile, stay late, exceed expectations, and even mentor new employees brought in on board. They are employees who are happy, well-rounded, and able to balance family and work life. While they are certainly there for a paycheck, they often enjoy the work they do and the benefits of the paycheck. They do genuinely care about the company they work for and hope to see it successful. No company should ever take engaged employees for granted and it is best to offer incentives to keep them engaged.

There are even more jobs which hold employees who are simply not engaged. The majority of employees in the workforce are not engaged. These employees are likely to just show up for work and do their jobs. They are not happy or unhappy workers. They don’t care whether the job gets done or not. They normally care just enough to earn a paycheck. They are not really wanting to put in any extra time, not willing to stay late at work, and usually just want to get the job done and go home. There may be hope for unengaged employees by offering incentives in the form of pay raises, vacations, luncheons, or other initiatives.

Disengaged employees are completely unhappy at work and unproductive. While they will work, they will try not to and get others to do their work. If they can, they will attempt to shift work to other employees or may even spread their apathy. They may take off from days at a time from work and really do not care if they get fired. They may be job hoppers and have no sense of responsibility towards the job. Disengaged employees may have not always been disengaged. They may have started out as engaged employees, shifting to unengaged employees, and then finally to completely disengaged. They have lost motivation, passion, and trust in the company due to lack of incentives and innovation. Once an employee becomes disengaged, they are likely never to become engaged again, though daily incentives may improve their engagement.

This infographic further details the search for what motivates employees.

In Search Of What Motivates Employees [Infographic]

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More than half of the American workforce feels disengaged from their jobs, meaning most workers are not productive and perform their task with minimal care. These disgruntled citizens cost employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. And they spread their malaise through the office, breaking their colleagues’ spirits and making even even the most inviting space feel like cubicle inferno. How can the American workforce regain its passion for work? Simple, through meaningful recognition of their contributions. Unfortunately, most companies get it wrong. Read on to find out what incentives truly motivate employees and keep office morale intact.


A mere one-third of American workers are engaged with their work, a stable trend throughout 2011.

Employees are unhappy at work and not productive

Employees perform without enthusiasm or care for their work.

Employees work with passion and feel a deep connection to their company.

$300 billion is the cost of an unmotivated workforce.

A Gallup study found disengaged employees cost companies $3000 billion in lost productivity each year.

71% of American workers are not engaged with or actively disengaged from their work.


The Hay Group, a global management and consulting firm, measured its employees’ current levels of satisfaction at 10 regional offices, then linked survey results to revenue:

$166,000 was generated per disengaged or non-engaged consultant.

$238,000 was generated per engaged consultant.

43% Hay Group found offices with engaged employees were 43 percent more productive.


In September 2011, Market Tools, Inc. collected responses from 630 U.S. employees, finding the following:

39% of workers do not feel appreciated at work.

Are you satisfied with the level of recognition you receive for doing a good job at work?

24% YES
76% NO

Would you work harder if your efforts were better recognized?

77% YES
23% NO

66% - The survey also found two out of three employees (66%) planning to leave wish their company would improve recognition at work.

40% of respondents not planning to leave their company want more recognition at work.


Emotionally reconnecting employees may be easier than thought.

Employees indicated the incentives that would make them better engaged at work.

More opportunities 27%
Career development opportunities and training 20%
Flexible job conditions (control over work flow, flexible time, etc.) 15%
Improved cooperation among coworkers 9%
More challenging work 8%
A better relationship with manager 7%
Greater clarity about my own work preferences and career goals 6%

Employees list developments that would spark better performance.

25% Great clarity about what the organization needs me to do and why
23% Development opportunities and training
14% Regular, specific feedback about job performance
10% A better relationship with coworkers
7% Better communication with manager
6% A coach or a mentor other than manager


Finding the right incentives to stimulate company growth and employee morale are the keys to a happy and successful work environment.

Research by Idea Connect, a staffing network, indicated a recognition program can boost performance by up to 44 percent.

Longer-term programs outperform short-term solutions.

Length of Program / Percent of Performance Increase
1 Year / 44%
6 Months / 30%
1 Week / 20%

The Right Incentives

Recognize and praise employees often.

Honor employees publicly.

Diversify awards to meet employees’ individual needs, such as outings, trophies, or point reward systems.

Why Monetary Incentives Fail

Monetary incentives lack the “trophy value,” and employees feel awkward discussing this type of award with others.

Cash awards are often forgotten and tend to be spent on everyday items.

Cash is perceived as part of the employees’ compensation package and not part of an incentive program.

In a survey by Westminster College, U.S. employees indicated incentives that would inspire performance:

Employees List Top Motivational Techniques They Would Prefer:

32% Boosting Morale
27% Praise/Recognition
18% Monetary Awards

Acknowledging and recognizing employees for their contributions at work goes a long way toward keeping them motivated and engaged. These needs are quite achievable, and are not tied to monetary concerns, so adjusting policies and implementing these minor steep can make an enormous difference in employee morale— and company performance.


Matthew Gates is a freelance web designer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.

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Tags: balancecompanyconfessionemployeeemployeesengagedimproveincentivesinfographicjoblifemoneymotivationpassionpaypaycheckraisetrustvacationsworkworkplace

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  • There are three kinds of employees: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Disengaged. Which type of employee are you?
  • Engaged employees are passionate about their jobs, enjoy being at work and even enjoy going to work, and feel a deep connection with their company.
  • The majority of employees in the workforce are not engaged.
  • Disengaged employees have lost motivation, passion, and trust in the company due to lack of incentives and innovation.