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The difference between employee engagement and motivation

Did you know your people can be engaged but not motivated? Remember to focus on employee motivation in your quest for a truly engaged workforce. 

Employee engagement and employee motivation isn’t the same, however both are essential for business success. Although there are many similarities between the two in the workplace, it's necessary to understand the differences and ensure that both are measured and focused upon.

This article will discuss the differences between engagement and motivation, the impact they have on your organisation, and how you can focus on business success.

Employee engagement focuses on how individuals feel about the organisation they work for. This will include their commitment to the organisation, its values and objectives, and how much they support it. 

Engaged employees tend to feel a sense of belonging and purpose, will go the extra mile to do their best, are advocates of the organisational brand and should be loyal and likely to stay with the organisation and say good things about it.

Employee motivation concerns the level of enthusiasm individuals bring to work and their energy and commitment to take on new challenges at work. Motivated employees tend to be keen to take on more work, projects or responsibilities and enjoy development themselves. 

In addition, they impact the wider team with their willingness to learn new skills and their positive attitude and energy.

There are two types of motivation, and managers must understand them both to ensure that motivation is tailored to individuals:

This concerns an individual’s internal motivation. Although the individual drives it, it can be impacted by an organisation and management.

For example, if employees find their work satisfying because they have a sense of pride or challenging work that enthuses them, they will feel more emotionally connected to their work and potentially the organisation.

Therefore, management must assess how intrinsically motivated their team members are and provide intrinsic motivators to enhance and maintain motivation. 

Examples of intrinsic motivators include meaningful work, clearly defined and implemented performance management programmes, ongoing employee feedback, and metrics to measure success or deadlines to encourage the completion of work.

This focuses on the external drivers important to an individual. They are tangible outcomes that can be short or long-term, including a bonus or promotion.

One issue with extrinsic motivators is that you can't keep providing them all the time, as once the employee has received it (e.g. a bonus or pay rise), you need to consider what will motivate them next. Therefore, these motivators need to be well-planned and used sparingly.

A significant challenge for managers is to define what motivates each person. While this is achievable in a relatively small team, it can be challenging to ascertain each person’s motivators in a larger team that might be split across locations. 

For example, in research by MetLife UK, the motivators varied by individual. They found that work-life balance was the most important benefit for most employees (61%), closely followed by 59% rating job security as the most important, 55% saying salary and 46% rating flexible working as the most important workplace benefit. 

While engagement refers to how committed your employees are to your organisation, motivation is how employees do their job and what drives them to work hard and achieve goals. However, you can have a highly motivated employee who needs to be more engaged or vice versa.

For instance, an employee could be highly motivated and primarily motivated by intrinsic rewards such as a pay rise. So, while they will work hard to achieve whatever motivates them, they may need to be more engaged and leave the organisation if someone else offers them better rewards.

Similarly, you could have an engaged employee who isn't particularly motivated. They could be completely committed to your organisation and the people they work for and with but don't feel incentivised to work at their hardest or do more than they need to.

Motivated employees will strive to complete a project or succeed in a piece of work. Even better, they will do this proactively without seeking help from management because they will care about completion and success and look for creative fixes for completion.

Motivated workers should also be invested in developing themselves to ensure they complete their goals and improve. They are also committed to doing their best job, working through difficult times and finding ways to contribute to the organisation.

Engaged employees will be committed to the organisation and will work hard, which should increase productivity. The more engaged your employees are, the less likely they are to take sick days and are more likely to stay with the organisation. These factors and high productivity should contribute to profitability and business success.

Another benefit that comes with engaged employees is a healthy and cohesive work culture and environment. This can raise the engagement of other employees or new starters, help with retention, and the more your people enjoy working for you, the more this should come across to customers and potential clients.

An employee engagement survey is essential in measuring engagement and motivation, as you can review where motivation is present and where it isn’t. You can use an employee engagement survey template to select questions related to motivation, and once you have the results, you can set action plans to improve employee motivation. Motivation questions may include:

  • What motivates you to complete your daily work tasks?
  • What inspires you to come to work each day?
  • What do you like about the organisational culture?
  • How are we helping you achieve your development goals?
  • What makes you excited to work at this organisation?

Employee motivation and engagement are different, and they complement each other. If your employees are both engaged and motivated, this will make for a positive workplace culture, high productivity and profitability, and lower turnover and absenteeism in a place where people want to work. Motivated and engaged people can help your organisation to be one that thrives and succeeds.

At Momentive, our SurveyMonkey service can help you to take employee motivation and engagement to another level, and our pricing plans are designed to fit your needs. Sign up now to increase engagement and motivation levels in your organisation.

Yes. Motivation forms part of engagement, and you need to consider how you can appeal to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for employees and provide different ways to do this. This will include looking at extrinsic factors such as reward and recognition and intrinsic ways to help employees achieve their work and development goals.

You need to talk to them individually. This can take time and effort, but you can use one-to-one meetings to understand their motivators, what currently motivates them and what they need for increased motivation. Then, you can build on these and give them more personalised opportunities.

Not at all. Extrinsic motivators could include rewards such as flexible work options, longer or different times for lunch breaks, choices of projects to work on, or recognition in the form of employee shout-outs or even low-cost vouchers.

Communication is essential for motivating and engaging employees. Therefore, you must ensure that communication is open and ongoing so that your team understands everything they need to know about the company and the team and use different communication channels.