A third of workers did not feel motivated once in 2015

More than a third (34%) of employees said they couldn't name a point where they felt motivated at work in 2015

Red Letter Days for Business' Employee motivation: Who came out on top in 2015? report found that the top motivators of 2015 were having a good work/life balance (selected by 45%), a motivating boss who is very good at their job (cited by 25%), and having great peers who motivate each other (chosen by 19%).

However, 7% of employees described 2015 as being ‘all work and no play', 7% said their employer expected too much of them, and one in 20 (5%) stated that they did not like any aspect of their job in 2015.

Cognitive neuroscientist and business psychologist Lynda Shaw suggested that two basic types of motivators play an important role in overall motivation levels. The first is internal motivation, which is to do with pride, work ethic and a passion for the work itself. “This type of motivation comes from within ourselves and pushes us to always do the best we can,” Shaw explained.

The second type is external motivation, inspired by specific rewards such as money, a nice office and promotions. “We know for example that praise from managers, attention from leaders, and our opinions and ideas being heard can be as effective or even more effective than the short-term boost of pay rises, bonuses, or shares in the company. Treating employees with dignity and respect seems to outweigh giving them cash to motivate them,” Shaw added.

“I always say to CEOs that staff motivation is about a two-way relationship. An old phrase comes to mind and seems appropriate: ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’."

Bill Alexander, CEO at Red Letter Days for Business, said the research indicates that simple hygiene factors such as where people work and the tools they’re given to work with have a bigger impact on motivation than employers may think. “The biggest lesson we must learn from these insights it that the most motivational elements that create memorable moments with staff appear under the four categories: achieved, challenged, gained knowledge, and recognised," he said.

How to create a culture of fun at work

On 13 January, HR magazine is running a live web debate, in partnership with BrightHR, looking at how HR can create a culture of fun in the workplace, and the impact of doing so on motivation. Find out more here.