Excuse my click-baity title. But you SHOULD NOT try to measure employee motivation. Or at least, not in a statistically driven format. Human beings are not machines. You can not work with someone for a few months, ask them a few questions, and proclaim that they are 88% motivated this month.
Before you go all mad scientist on understanding your team’s motivation & morale, remember two points:
- Only intrinsic motivation lasts - You can gamify rewards & recognition systems as much as you want, but in the end people are only motivated by whatever is essential to their personal belongingness. Read more about this in our guide on how to motivate your team members.
- Morale is a spectrum - I run my own company (Kaapi). It is an extremely fulfilling job, and yet there are weeks when it’s not the most exciting thing in my life. I have to keep balancing out challenging work, with fun and impact. The same goes for your employees too.
Having said that, there are still some simple heuristics you can use to measure employee motivation at work:
#1 - The team member is disengaged in meetings
Warning - Do not confuse being an introvert with disengagement. Or being a bully with engagement.
This usually manifests itself in decreased levels of brainstorming during meetings, or infrequent status updates from the employee. This will not happen instantly, but would be a rather slow decline. You will also be able to feel this during 1-on-1 meetings and that is probably your best chance to fix the situation.
#2 - You have not resolved past feedback
This is by far the biggest contributor to low morale & breakage of trust. If an employee has given you feedback in the past, you must act on that feedback. Or at least, please ensure that you have talked to that person about the feedback they gave.
#3 - Consistent low performance at work
This is a leading indicator of low morale that is sure to come after a missed deadline, or bad results in a project. If you feel that an employee has been struggling with their work for a long period of time, you need to step in and help. How do you help in a constructive manner? That’s a topic for another day.
#Bonus - what not to do
I have been purview to some crazy conversations around this topic. And I have heard some crazy stupid method that people (they think they are right) recommend trying to identify demotivated employees:
- The team member has stopped re-tweeting or reposting the company’s official social media posts. They used to do it before, and now they don’t. Which means they must no longer be happy, right? Wrong!
- Comparing holidays taken and leaves of absence from the past, and equating it to low motivation. Maybe the person just needs a break. Or has personal stuff to take care of, that in no way is related to motivation at work.
What do you think? As a leader, have you faced this problem before? How did you go about identifying low morale?