The Synergy of Company Culture And Employee Motivation

November 14, 2023
10 mins

Understand what motivates employees, empowers them, creates a sense of belonging, and shapes a company culture that naturally inspires employee motivation and engagement.

Jim Collins once said, “Culture is the difference between a good company and a great company.” His words hold true even today.

As per recent studies, 77% of job seekers make it a point to assess a company's culture before sending in their job applications. Deloitte takes it a step further, asserting that a whopping 95% of employees believe that culture holds more weight than their paycheck. 

Numbers don't lie – company culture and employee motivation do go hand in hand. So, if you're wondering how your workplace culture can rev up your employees’ engagement and performance and keep them hooked, you're in the right spot. 

The Secret Recipe for Company Culture and Employee Motivation

The DNA of organizational success is written in the everyday experiences of employees. So, let's decode the essential components that shape a motivating company culture, which, in turn, drives employee engagement, satisfaction, and performance.

Understanding The Science Behind Motivation

You know that feeling when you're super excited about a project or a task, and you're just raring to go? That's motivation. Now, imagine having the power to make your entire team feel the same way. This is where understanding the science behind motivation comes into play.

But how does it work? Well, there's some science behind it. Let's start with the psychological side of things. One of the key psychological factors that drive employee motivation is the desire for autonomy. When employees feel they have a say in how they do their jobs and they're not just following orders, they're more likely to be motivated. It's like giving them a sense of ownership.

Another psychological factor is the need for competence. This means people like to feel good at what they do. When they can see that they're improving or mastering new skills, it's a big boost to their motivation.

Now, let's talk about neurological factors. When we do something we enjoy or find meaningful, our brains release a chemical called dopamine. The brain also responds to positive feedback and recognition. When someone tells us we did a great job, our brains release more of that feel-good dopamine. It's like a little pat on the back for our efforts.

It is a well-studied phenomenon with some fascinating employee motivation theories to help us make sense of it too:

1. Self-Determination Theory: The Power of Autonomy

Imagine you have a choice between two tasks at work. One task allows you to use your skills, creativity, and judgment. The other one is strictly controlled, with no room for you to make decisions. Which task do you think would motivate you more?

The Self-Determination Theory suggests that employees are most motivated when they feel they have autonomy and control over their work. When they can choose how to approach their tasks and are driven by intrinsic factors like personal growth, passion, and a sense of purpose, they're more engaged and motivated.

2. Expectancy Theory: The Belief in Reward

Have you ever heard the saying, "You get what you expect"? This theory is a bit like that. The Expectancy Theory posits that employees are motivated when they believe their efforts will lead to good performance, which, in turn, will lead to a desired reward.

In simpler terms, if employees think that their hard work will be recognized and rewarded, they're more likely to be motivated. It's all about connecting the dots between effort, performance, and the reward at the end of the tunnel.

3. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Climbing the Motivation Pyramid

You might have heard of Abraham Maslow and his famous hierarchy of needs. He proposed that humans have a pyramid of needs, starting with the basics like food and shelter and ascending to higher-order needs like self-esteem and self-actualization.

In the workplace, this theory suggests that employees need to have their fundamental needs met before they can be motivated by higher-level factors like recognition and self-fulfillment. So, providing fair compensation, job security, and a safe working environment is the foundation upon which you can build a culture that fosters motivation.

4. Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory: The Hygiene-Motivation Split

Imagine your workplace as a dual-zone spacecraft. One zone is about hygiene, the basics that need to be in place for survival. The other is about motivation, the exciting part of work.

Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory divides workplace factors into hygiene factors (like salary, job security, and working conditions) and motivators (like recognition, achievement, and responsibility). According to this theory, improving hygiene factors prevents job dissatisfaction, but true motivation comes from enhancing the motivators.

Even though these employee motivation theories might come off as boring getting a hold of these theories can help you understand what drives employees. And how to create a more motivating company culture.

How to Tell if Your Company's Culture is Motivating Employees

how to motivate employees

Understanding whether your company's culture is truly motivating your employees is akin to taking your organization's pulse. It's a critical process that involves looking for vital signs, gathering feedback, and engaging in meaningful conversations. Let's dive into the methods to assess the health of your workplace culture:

1. Look for Signs of Employee Engagement

According to Gallup, 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their peers by 21% in profitability. When your employees are engaged, they're more likely to be motivated, satisfied, and productive. To gauge this, observe and analyze the following indicators:

-High Participation in Company Events: 

If your team eagerly participates in company events, it's a positive sign. Engaged employees actively contribute to the organization's social fabric, strengthening the sense of belonging.

-Positive Feedback from Customers and Clients: 

Happy, motivated employees tend to provide excellent service, resulting in positive feedback from clients. Keep an eye on customer satisfaction metrics to assess the connection between employee engagement and customer experience.

-Low Turnover Rates: 

A motivating company culture retains its talent. If your employees are content, they are less likely to leave. High turnover rates may indicate dissatisfaction or a lack of motivation.

2. Conduct Regular Employee Surveys

As per SHRM, 2022 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 70% of employees say that feedback from their managers is important to them. Employee motivation and workplace culture are subjects best understood from the source - your employees. Regularly conducting employee surveys can provide a wealth of insights. Here's how you can use surveys to evaluate your company's culture:

-Employee Motivation Surveys: 

These programs are tailor-made to understand what drives your employees. They can reveal whether they find their work motivating and identify areas where improvements are needed.

-Employee Motivation Programs:

Employee satisfaction is tightly intertwined with motivation. These programs can uncover areas of satisfaction and discontent, helping you identify the impact of your company culture.

-Organizational Culture Assessment: 

This survey focuses on the cultural aspects of your workplace. It can unveil how your company's values, communication, and leadership align with employee expectations.

3. Talk to Employees One-on-One

Deloitte’s 2022 Global Human Capital Trends Report stated that 46% of employees say that they feel more connected to their company when they have regular conversations with their managers. As important as surveys are, personal connections are equally vital. Engaging in one-on-one conversations with employees can uncover the nuances of motivation and job satisfaction:

-Understand Individual Needs and Motivations: 

Each employee is unique, with distinct motivations and aspirations. By engaging in personal conversations, you can gain deeper insights into what drives them. Use this information to tailor strategies that cater to individual needs.

-Open Communication Channels: 

Create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns and aspirations. Encouraging open communication fosters trust, which is a cornerstone of a motivating culture.

Evaluating the motivating power of your company culture is an ongoing process. The signs of motivation, survey results, and personal conversations are your guiding lights. As you collect and analyze this data, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions about how to improve your company culture, strengthen employee motivation, and enhance your organization's overall performance.

Tips to Use Your Company Culture to Motivate Employees and Increase Performance

To motivate employees and boost performance, you need to harness the power of that cultural compass. Here are some practical tips to steer your company culture in the right direction:

1. Identify Your Company's Core Values

Your company's core values are its guiding principles, reflecting what's truly important to your organization. To motivate employees, you must first understand what you want them to stand for. Key steps include:

-Defining Core Values: 

Identify and articulate the core values that underpin your organization's identity. These values should be more than just words; they should be the DNA of your workplace culture.

-Incorporate Employee Input: 

Don't make this a top-down exercise. Involve employees in discussions about core values. This will ensure that they feel connected to and motivated by the values.

2. Align Your Company's Culture with Its Values

It's not enough to have core values written down on paper. For true motivation, your company culture should resonate with these values:

-Walking the Talk: 

Your leadership team should exemplify these values in their actions. When leaders embody the values, employees are more likely to follow suit.

-Leading by Example: 

Encourage employees at all levels to embrace the core values in their daily work. This alignment between culture and values fosters motivation.

3. Create a Culture of Feedback and Development

Feedback is the wind in the sails of personal and professional growth. To motivate employees, you need to establish a culture where feedback flows freely:

-Open Communication Channels: 

Develop an environment where employees feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback. This culture of openness promotes motivation by facilitating personal and professional development.

-Timely and Constructive Feedback: 

Ensure that feedback is constructive and delivered promptly. It should be geared toward helping employees improve and reach their goals.

4. Invest in Employee Development

A motivated employee is often one who sees growth opportunities. To increase motivation and performance:

-Provide Learning Opportunities: 

Invest in employee development programs and training. This not only enhances their skills but also sends a strong message that you care about their growth.

-Career Pathing: 

Help employees map out their career paths within the company. When they can visualize their future, they're more likely to be motivated in their current roles.

5. Celebrate Successes and Recognize Employees

Celebrating success and recognizing employee contributions are powerful motivators. It's about making employees feel appreciated and valued:

-Celebrate Achievements: 

When employees meet or exceed their goals, celebrate these successes. Whether it's a small victory or a big milestone, acknowledgment goes a long way.

-Employee Recognition Programs: 

Implement authentic employee recognition programs that highlight outstanding performance. This can include rewards, certificates, or public acknowledgment in team meetings.

By putting these tips into practice, you can use your company culture as a potent motivator, fueling employee engagement and boosting overall performance.

Final Note

Now that we know a bit about what motivates people, how can we use this knowledge to improve performance through company culture and employee motivation?

Creating a culture of meaning and purpose: Employees are more motivated when they feel that their work is meaningful and that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. How can you create a company culture that is infused with meaning and purpose?

Empowering employees and giving them autonomy: Employees are more motivated when they feel like they have control over their work and that their voices are heard. How can you empower employees and give them more autonomy in their roles?

Creating a culture of recognition and celebration: Employees are more motivated when they feel appreciated and valued for their contributions. How can you create a company culture that celebrates successes and recognizes employees for their hard work?

Fostering a sense of community and belonging: Employees are more motivated when they feel like they are part of a team and that they belong to something bigger than themselves. How can you foster community and belonging in your company culture?

So, in a nutshell, it's about understanding what makes people tick, respecting their need for autonomy and competence, and using the brain's love for dopamine to your advantage. When you can do that, you're on the path to creating a workplace culture that naturally inspires motivation and engagement. 

Bigfish Editorial Team

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