Motivation in the workplace is often the underlying indicator of a company’s success. People are the most valuable asset of any company and seeing us perform well and watching us sustain our own productivity levels, of course, comes from the motivation we bottle up and then release over the course of a workday. Employee motivation is the grease that keeps the workflow wheels turning on a daily basis and without it, culture would suffer, perks would lose their flavor, and overall office-life quality would plummet. 

It’s no secret that we need to get and stay motivated. But, according to psychology and the professionals who navigate the field, we need to negate a few unhelpful habits that are keeping us from performing at our best: 

Stop asking other people for advice

Monkey see, monkey do is not always the way to go. More often than not, other people’s advice can be subjective, especially when they’ve reached a goal tailored to them and their specific habits or needs. Employee motivation can be learned or mirrored, but only to a certain extent. And, as for work motivation, everyone has their own driving factor that enables them to perform at a certain level. 

Instead of asking your coworkers how to complete a project, imagine you’re the one giving advice to someone else. What would you tell them to do? That’s the advice you should follow. Recent research shows that “giving advice, as opposed to receiving it, appears to help unmotivated people feel powerful because it involves reflecting on the knowledge that they already have.” The ability to galvanize motivation or achievement induces confidence and therefore, is more likely to inspire your motivation. 

Stop doing things out of fear

If you’re fearful of a deadline or poor review, then there’s a distinct possibility that something in your routine or work life is off. Maybe you’ve set the wrong goals for yourself? Perhaps, you have a lack of clarity or autonomy in your job tasks? Employee motivation should derive from a place of certainty and excitement; not an internal conflict that throws your work motivation off balance.  

Instead of performing out of fear, try digging a little bit deeper and identifying the positive components within that motivates you to succeed. Searching for either extrinsic or intrinsic motivation is never easy, and neither is recognizing a biological drive that pushes you to do something for logistic’s sake. Follow your gut and address any inner conflicts that aren’t aligned with your values on the job, and then try to rectify them to mitigate that uncomfortable feeling of performance anxiety. Motivation in the workplace should never have a foundation built on fear. 

Stop burning yourself out 

Slow and steady wins the race; not impulsive sprints. Putting excess pressure on yourself will increase your risk of developing burnout syndrome, and burnout just counteracts motivation. It’s imperative that you check in with yourself and assess any physical or mental symptoms associated with burnout. How is your work-life balance looking? Do you enjoy the more challenging aspects of your role or do you feel exhausted and unfulfilled? 

Instead of pushing yourself to full capacity within a short amount of time, know your limits and pursue the tasks you enjoy. It’s also important that you remember to take advantage of paid time off and give feedback where and when it counts. Motivation questionnaires and surveys are great ways to collect feedback from people leaders and give the same in return. It promotes transparency and offers the opportunity to air any grievances that need to be addressed. 

The benefits of motivation in the workplace that are produced by inspirational leadership, meaningful tasks, and feedback culture are quite apparent. From a management or HR standpoint, the key to motivation resurgence is understanding how to use employee engagement to increase motivation levels. However, from a people perspective, the psychological advice we receive from professionals can help us determine what our intrinsic work motivation is, and how we can best apply it in a way that allows us to avoid depletion.


from Stephanie Stevens

Stephanie is Content Marketer at Hibob. She has a background in Clinical Psychology and Crisis Management, and enjoys abstract painting and watching horror films in her spare time. She believes that people can connect with themselves, their peers, and the world around them through creative writing, helping them foster a deeper sense of self and their life goals in the process.