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Employee motivation is declining, says new research

Work Life

New research says employee motivation levels are on the decline with 29% saying they aren’t motivated.

A new research report, “Living to Work”, has shown employee motivation levels are on the decline. 29% of employees surveyed said they were not motivated at work in 2017 compared to just 18% who said the same in 2016.

Reward and recognition experts, Motivates Inc. Ltd has commissioned its employee motivation research for the past three years, surveying over 2,000 UK employees in full-time employment. The full data shows like-for-like how employees are feeling in the workplace and what hygiene factors have affected behaviours year-on-year.

Are you motivated at work?

Bill Alexander, chairman at Motivates, said: “71% of UK employees were motivated in 2017. The figure on its own shows a positive result, yet when you reflect on the motivational statistics from 2016 the data actually shows the percentage of motivated employees has dropped by 11% in just one year. That’s 220 more employees in an organisation of 2,000 who are not feeling good about their job. Now that’s a figure to worry about.”

To determine what affected motivational levels in the workplace last year, employees were asked to list the things they did and didn’t find motivating. The top five answers were:


“When we think of motivating our employees it’s easy to consider quick wins, like bonuses and a pay rise, to get employees feeling happy and engaged again. However, the research shows companies need to think less about money and more about personal appreciation and creating an environment that encourages happiness and well-being in the workplace. People are getting satisfaction from a good work life balance, working with great peers, and a manager who shows their appreciation with reward, recognition and a thank you,” added Alexander.

Continuing to explore the extrinsic and intrinsic benefits, employees were asked whether they chose their job based on salary. Three times as many employees did not choose their job based on salary in 2017 compared to 2016 (19% in 2017 compared to 6% in 2016). And, when asked what would motivate them to do well in their job more than their basic salary, the top five answers were:

1. A feeling of satisfaction
2. General work enjoyment
3. Job security
4. Incentives and rewards
5. Working as part of a team

“When it comes to finding ways to motivate employees, employers’ need to understand that working the traditional 9am to 5pm grind to earn a living is becoming a thing of the past. People are allowing their jobs to shape their lives and are even basing life satisfaction on how well they’re doing in their career and how happy they are at work – not just at home. Employees see the value in benefits that are going to make a change to how they feel, not only a change to their bank balance. Challenge them, notice them, and allow them a good amount of personal time so they don’t burn out. We used to work to live and now it seems we’re living to work,” concluded Alexander.