6 tips for sustainable employee motivation in times of remote work

Published June 6, 2024

Vanessa Müller Working student d.velop AG

employee motivation

A good working atmosphere, flexible working (time) models and exciting activities are aspects that ensure that employees feel part of the company and are sustainably motivated. But why is employee motivation indispensable today, which aspects are still crucial and how can this be implemented in companies? We light up the darkness!

How can employee motivation be defined?

Basically, two types of motivation can be distinguished:

  • Extrinsic motivation: With extrinsic motivation, actions are taken based on external influences and consequences (e.g. reward or punishment).
  • Intrinsic motivation: Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when motivated from within. Based on an internal incentive (e.g. feeling that the work is meaningful or the work is viewed as an exciting challenge).

These types can also be transferred to employee motivation. Motivation is an essential tool in the leadership and development of employees and has a positive effect on the entire corporate culture.

Employee Motivation: A Definition

Employee motivation describes the measures through which managers or the company itself influence their employees. Encouraging them to either maintain, increase or modify their work performance/results in fundamental areas.

The aim is to positively influence the behaviour of every employee in the interests of the company, so that they are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated to perform accordingly.

Status quo of employee motivation

A look at the EY Job Study 2023, in which 1,555 employees in Germany were surveyed, shows that the majority of employees are still motivated to go to work. However, employee motivation has fallen since 2017 and almost one in three people said in 2023 that they were just doing their job or were demotivated about work.

The study also makes it clear that a good relationship with colleagues and a positive working atmosphere are very crucial motivational factors. Flexible working (time) models and the type of work, also play a more important role in motivation as opposed to just financial incentives such as a high salary.

EY Jobstudie 2023

EY Jobstudie 2023

It is particularly important for the motivation of employees that the corporate culture and the cooperation between colleagues, does not suffer due to the increasing number of remote work options available in recent years.

In addition, according to the study, more than 90 percent of employees believe that their own work makes an important contribution to the company’s success. From this it can be deduced that they also want to be valued for their work. This appreciation is made possible, among other things, through employee participation. Employees who perceive the leadership style in their own company to be more participative, often see their work as valued more than average,” according to the study.

Digital personnel files for the age of remote working

Why is employee motivation essential today?

Unmotivated employees have a negative impact on both the company and the economy as a whole, as they lead to increased costs. The 2022 Engagement Index report shows that 18 percent of employees had already mentally resigned. The highest figure since 2012. The economic costs resulting from this, combined with the associated loss of productivity, amounted to between 118 and 151 billion euros.

However, a lack of motivation doesn’t just affect productivity. This also negatively affects the general atmosphere in the company. The consequences: the loss of emotional connection to a company and a large number of terminations. In 2018, 78 percent of respondents fully intended to still be with their current employer in a year, but in 2022 that share has shrunk to 55 percent, according to the Gallup report. Especially in today’s times of skilled labour shortages and the war for talent, it is essential for companies to motivate employees and retain them in the long term.

Drop your pen just in time for the end of the day? Not with motivated team members – they not only do the bare minimum, but also show real commitment and are ready to step in when things get tough. There is no question that these employees are worth their weight in gold. But what can companies do to combat this negative trend in motivation?

How can employee motivation be increased again?

Work environments have changed today. More and more colleagues no longer meet in the office every day, but instead work from different places and at different times. The flexibility gained is a positive factor for increasing motivation. However, the most important aspects of employee motivation must not suffer as a result – namely the corporate culture and the working atmosphere among colleagues.

Below we look at six measures that can help bring these factors back into harmony and thus sustainably promote employee motivation.

6 tips to increase employee motivation

The decisive factor for long-term motivated employees is fundamentally intrinsic motivation. In contrast, extrinsic motivation only shows short-term effects and is not responsible for long-term motivation. To sustainably increase employee motivation, employers can use various strategies. Especially in the era of digital collaboration, special measures are required to specifically promote motivation.

1. Promote transparent communication

Communication is the critical factor when it comes to ensuring that everyone in the team and company want to pull together. Especially in times of remote work, dialogue is crucial to maintaining connection with the team and building an emotional bond. It is important to promote open exchange both within the entire team, between managers and employees in order to promote motivation for collaboration.

2. Introduction of feedback, praise and recognition from managers

Managers have a direct influence on the motivation of their employees. If the performance of the workforce is valued through feedback, praise and recognition, this has a positive effect on employee motivation. However, feedback from management positions should be measured and related to specific achievements, so that a certain level of seriousness accompanies this feedback.

3. Promote personal strengths

It is important to promote sustainable motivation and that employees are given the trust to take on projects and new challenges independently. This trust and the opportunity to demonstrate their personal strengths not only increases self-esteem, but also motivates employees to continue to act independently. In order to further develop personal strengths and gain new knowledge, it is important to encourage/enable employees to take part in seminars and coaching sessions.

4. Set individual goals

Personal goals give employees clear direction. Setting sub-goals for specific periods, be it monthly or quarterly, supports employees in pursuing their goals in a focused manner and motivates them to achieve top performance.

5. Enable participation of all those involved

Participation as a form of appreciation is also an important aspect of employee motivation. If employees have the feeling that all matters are being decided over their heads, even though they directly affect them, this can affect their motivation to work for the company. It is therefore important to ensure those involved are part of the bidirectional feedback channel.

6. Strengthening emotional connection

The emotional connection of employees to the company and their work is a decisive incentive. When personal goals are in line with the company’s goals, there are further training opportunities and interesting challenges are offered, an emotional bond is created. By enjoying work, intrinsic motivation can then develop, which leads to the work being done on one’s own initiative.

Use of an employee app as a motivational tool in the company

Some of these points can be successfully implemented in the company using an employee app as a central information platform. Because it promotes open (real-time) communication among colleagues and between employees and management. Through improved internal communication, employees are actively involved in the company’s operations – even if they may be physically in a different location – and are therefore more motivated.

Would you like to find out more about today’s challenges of a holistic communication strategy and get to know an employee app as a possible solution? Then benefit from exciting insights in our webinar “An employee app – the missing piece of the puzzle in your internal communication strategy ” and get to know the functions and possibilities of an employee app.