Can You Motivate Your Employees? Yes…and No
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Motivation is the desire to act to achieve a goal, behavior, or outcome. It’s one of the driving forces behind human actions. However, it’s not simple. Individuals often have many motives for demonstrating a behavior or action.

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

Motivation can be extrinsic, meaning a person is inspired by external forces, or it can be intrinsic, meaning an individual is inspired from within. There are different perspectives about how to motivate employees, or if one person can motivate another. Personally, I think it best to capitalize on employees’ intrinsic motives to learn, grow, contribute, and perform at high levels. To do this, one must identify what those intrinsic motives would be.

Early in my career I took many leadership courses, and the common message was that employees were motived primarily by money and a fun place to work. I remember wondering why that wasn’t resonating with me. Those things didn’t feel like motivators for me.

Create an Environment that Removes Barriers to Self-Motivation

Roll forward to today. After many years of experience, I’ve learned that we can’t motivate our employees, but we can impact the work environment so they can be self-motivated.

Here are the baseline elements every employer needs to create the right environment:
• Fair and competitive compensation and benefits
• Development and growth opportunities
• Positive and inclusive work environment

However, to truly engage employees, we must go a step further and understand what motivates each individual.

Quiet Quitting – Quiet Firing

Today, we’re hearing about employees quiet quitting and employers quiet firing. Employees who are quiet quitting are those who are showing up, watching the clock, and putting forth minimal effort to keep their job. They are somewhat productive, psychologically disconnected, and lack the motivation to change.

59% of employees are quiet quitting (not engaged)
18% are loud quitting (actively disengaged)
That’s 77% of employees who aren’t engaged and thriving at work!
*(Gallup, 2023)

Quiet firing is a form of disregard and lack of care that slowly pushes the employee out of the job or company. In this case, supervisors are not providing positive recognition and reinforcement, coaching and development opportunities, support or resources among other things that help to create a positive work experience. Whether intentional or not, it is poor leadership, unproductive, and bad for business.

OMEP offers a variety of programs and services to Oregon manufacturers to develop leaders, evaluate employee competencies and create development plans, build career pathways, and identify motivators and demotivators that impact engagement and job satisfaction.

Let us know if you’d like to learn more. You can schedule a no-cost no-obligation assessment, reach out via our website at, or give us a call at 503-406-3770.

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  • Tami Trout

    Tami Trout has more than 20 years of experience managing people and projects, developing and facilitating training programs, hiring talent, optimizing business processes and operations, and creating and executing strategic employee communications. Although she has consulted with clients in a variety of sectors, including health care, environmental engineering, professional sports, government, and non-profits, her primary clients have been family-owned and closely-held manufacturers. She works with companies to maximize organizational success and profitability by developing effective human resources systems, workforce hiring and development, and performance management.

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