What motivates employees in 2024?  

Quite recently we published a short article for you on New Year’s resolutions.  While browsing our HR Blog, a thought occurred to me. What would these resolutions be without proper motivation? Motivation is, after all, one of the key and integral elements of success.

With the advancement of technology and societal changes, motivational factors have undergone transformation. Business is now facing a new challenge. We, HR professionals, are constantly looking to find out what really motivates people and makes them ‘want to’.

While delving into recent research, I came across one of the reports organized by the Gallup Institute titled “State of the Global Workplace 2023.” Take a look at the research results:

Polish companies have one of the lowest levels of employee engagement in the world.  Such engagement was shown by only 14 per cent of respondents from Poland – in this respect we are at the bottom of the list in Europe. We are followed by countries such as Greece and Spain, but also the UK, Austria and Switzerland, showing that lack of commitment at work is a European problem. The Gallup Institute data shows that here in Europe, we have the least engaged workforce in the world.

The survey results are thought-provoking and raise one fundamental question: How can companies effectively increase the engagement of their employees? Check out their expectations for this year:

The ‘Labour Market Trends 2024’ survey, conducted by InterviewMe.co.uk, asked 1,038 respondents about their expectations at work for the coming year. Among other things, it found that for one in three people (33%), wellbeing and mental health will be a priority at work in 2024. A further 26% of respondents cited higher wages in the same position, 9% cited finding a new job and 8% cited developing skills. Less frequently did they declare the desire to achieve more flexibility at work (5%), to receive a promotion (4%) or to start  own business (4%).

However, referring to the results – work that only has an earning function becomes insufficient. We are looking for something more. So what can be counted as motivational trends in 2024?

Understanding employees’ needs and emotions will be the basis for success here. This may seem trivial and even obvious to some, but for some organisations it is not – as can be seen, among other things, in the above-mentioned results of the engagement survey. How people feel in their workplace, the relationship they have with their superiors and colleagues, how their employer takes care of them, encourages them to develop – that’s what makes one want to.

When the employer is aware of what the needs are, they can adapt motivational strategies and working environment to better respond to them. For example, if an employee is keen on flexibility then offering remote working and promoting a healthy approach to time management will certainly address their needs and make them happy with a solution that gives them freedom to operate and maintains balance.

  • If we wanted such an employee to work fixed hours, so that they would be ‘glued’ to their desk – I guarantee, they would not last very long. What matters now is to set a clear goal and give space for implementation. We say goodbye to micro-management.
  • Secondly, understanding employees’ needs and emotions allows the employer to make better use of their strengths and interests, leading to more efficient allocation of tasks and projects. Employees who are drawn into projects in line with their interests are often more engaged and motivated to succeed.
  • Thirdly, the employer’s empathetic approach builds bonding and trust. For example, when an employee is going through a crisis for some reason and needs time out, it is worth supporting them with a leave of absence or another solution that will offer real help. When they feel understood and appreciated by their superiors, they are more likely to be committed to their work. In addition, they then often share their concerns and ideas, which contributes to better communication and cooperation. In addition, being involved in the decision-making process, consulting on company plans and strategies can increase the sense of responsibility for the organisation’s performance.
  • From my observations based on recruitment, many candidates pay particular attention to personal development opportunities. Therefore, fourthly, understanding these needs allows the employer to propose appropriate training and a training budget. What we need to say good bye to is uniformly imposed training that is not tailored to the individual. And speaking of mismatches, the ‘bag of benefits’ is worth mentioning here. A multitude of additional benefits will not make employees more motivated. The approach to employee benefits is now gradually changing.

If 90% of people in an organisation don’t like sport, will offering them Multisport cards be a good solution? More and more companies are offering personalized benefits that take into account the diverse needs of employees.

All this is complemented by a strong organisational culture based on values, a common and clear purpose, mutual respect, open communication and a concern for stability. And this is what becomes a key motivational factor. Employees want to feel that they are safe, integrated and appreciated for what they do. You can find information on how to appreciate employees in our article on the HR Blog.

In summary, modern companies are increasingly realizing that motivation is not just about financial incentives. They should remember that each employee is an individual with unique needs, ambitions or skills. Lumping everyone together with the most offbeat benefits will not make their engagement reach 101%. I think it is worth looking at and analyzing the differentiated needs across all teams in 2024. Such measures will build a comprehensive motivational strategy that will translate into making not only employees but also the employer smile.

text written by:

Ewelina Partyka, People & Culture Specialist