Employee motivation in a new world of work.

Employee motivation is the foundation for positive business outcomes, like increased team productivity and stronger employee engagement levels. However, in a new remote world, many companies find it challenging to boost and maintain employee morale and motiviation.

How employee motivators have changed while working remotely.

The gold standard for employee motivation has long been bringing everyone together in an office environment where they can feed off each other’s energy. However, in our world where almost everyone now works remotely, that paradigm has drastically shifted and companies are searching for new employee motivation programs, strategies, and platforms for their distributed teams.

Motivated Employee Working From Home

Let’s start by reviewing the areas where employees and teams are being the most affected by the switch to remote and distanced work:

We’re no longer together in the office to have face-to-face meetings, cross-company social gatherings, and those organic “watercooler” moments that make us feel like humans. And if we are back in an office, safety protocols have made previous gestures of connection a no-no, meaning we feel more sterile or awkward when interacting with teammates (geez, we miss hugs). Whether these points of connection were work-related or personal, not having them can make employees feel demotivated and disconnected from each other, their company, and their work.

CREATE AUTHENTIc, remote connections

Distributed employees can feel isolated from the rest of the company, and even their own team in some circumstances. There’s an inherent lack of cross-departmental visibility in a remote work setting that can make employees feel as if they exist in a silo. No one sees you burning the midnight oil, or balancing work between your other personal and family responsibilities (to anyone remote homeschooling, major props). This means that recognition for great work has to be more intentionally executed, by front-line managers and from the leadership team.

Show employees they're seen and valued

It’s become increasingly difficult for many employees to draw a hard line in the sand between work and home in a remote work environment. After transitioning, 70% of workers sign on during the weekends, and 45% report they work longer weekday hours than they ever did in a physical office: the average workday increased by 48.5 minutes. Let’s not mention the similar increase in the number of meetings and Zoom fatigue (*cries silently*). It’s so easy to send one more e-mail, take one more call, or stay online for one more hour. With no hard boundaries between the working world and their personal lives, employees are at risk of becoming demotivated and burning out.


Understanding employee motivation.

Before we share how to motivate employees in the workplace, and how it's related to employee recognition, let’s break down the two types of work motivation—extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic Employee Motivation

Employees who are extrinsically motivated in the workplace will often perform tasks because they want an external reward or incentive. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside factors like:

Money as a Motivator


Fame as a Motivator


Grades or Ratings as Workplace Motivation

Grades or ratings

Praise as Motivation in the Workplace


Intrinsic Employee Motivation

When people are intrinsically motivated at work, they’ll often find tasks inherently rewarding because those tasks contribute to achievement of goals or purpose. Specifically, intrinsic motivation:

Happiness and Fulfillment as an Intrinsic Motivator

Evokes feelings of happiness and fulfillment

Workplace Goals as Motivation

Relates to someone’s personal goals 

Sense of Purpose as Employee Motivation

Ties in to an individual’s sense of purpose

Employee on Globe Icon

Both forms of recognition can be used as employee motivation techniques.

For example, recognition given by a manager or trusted peer reinforces an employee’s contributions to greater company goals, which taps into intrinsic motivation. When recognition is given publicly and tied in with an external reward, it appeals to extrinsic motivation.

Why does employee motivation matter?

Motivation programs for employees drive engagement. Engaged employees make a stronger impact on your business goals. When you reward your employees for their hard work, it motivates them to engage more with their work and hit personal and company goals.

Employee Engagement Hierarchy of Needs

$550 billion

Disengaged employees cost companies up to $550 billion a year.

Just one actively disengaged employee can cost you $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary. The good news is that you can use employee recognition and motivation programs to increase employee engagement.

Discover how to prove the ROI of your recognition & motivation programs.


Forty percent of employees would feel more motivated by recognition.

Despite this, 82% of employees don’t feel that their managers recognize them enough for their contributions. When managers do take the time to recognize their employees, engagement increases by 60%.

See what a culture of recognition could look like at your company.


Thirty-six percent of workers are engaged in their work.

That means roughly 64% of workers are just going through the motions and aren’t happy in their role. There are many factors that contribute to an employee’s engagement level, and employee motivation in the workplace is one of the most significant.

Satisfied Employee

How employee motivation in the workplace connects with employee recognition.

Employee recognition is one of the most powerful levers you can pull when it comes to motivating employees in the workplace. In fact, 37% of employees chose recognition as the top motivating factor at work, ahead of increased pay, promotions, training, or autonomy.

Your employee recognition & motivation program can’t be made with a one-size-fits-all approach though. Today’s workforce craves personalization, and motivators can range widely across your team (extrinsic vs. intrinsic).  

Meaning, you need to offer options that are both relevant and unique to someone’s individual needs, desires, and motivators. One of the most impactful ways to achieve this is through employee motivation programs that enable personalization and choice.

Level-up your employee motivation strategies with this free ebook.

Techniques and strategies for bringing recognition programs to life that inspire motivation.

Whether you’re exploring spot rewards, a sales incentives program, company values awards, or work anniversary rewards, here’s how Blueboard sets your employee motivation programs up for success:

Employee Participating in Fishing Experiential Reward

Design employee recognition and motivation programs that support intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

If employees are motivated by fame, celebrate them at a company all-hands meeting.

If employees are motivated by a sense of purpose, recognize them with company values awards to connect them to the company's foundation.

Family During Experiential Kayaking Reward

Give employees the opportunity to choose their reward.

With Blueboard's employee recognition and motivation platform, your employees have the ability to choose from hundreds of hand-curated experiential rewards that fit their interests, comfort zones, and lifestyle. Whether they’re looking for activities from the comfort of home (like an in-home sommelier tasting or guitar lesson) or exciting travel opportunities, Blueboard reward recipients have the freedom to choose something that’s personally meaningful to them. This also takes the pressure off of their manager to know the ins and outs of their personal life, interests or hobbies (which are even more private now that we’re working remotely). Customized rewards are one of the best ways to motivate employees in the workplace, and we're here to help you achieve personalization, at scale.

Measure the impact of recognition on your motivation rates.

At Blueboard, we offer a post-experience survey to every rewarded employee to measure how their experience contributed to increased engagement. We’re proud to report that 96% of employees feel more motivated to perform at a higher level after they go #Blueboarding. These feelings linger long after the reward is received as recipients feel a spark of excitement and motivation when they share their story.


Looking for the best way to reward, recognize and incentivize your top people?

Connect with our team for a personalized demo of our recognition and rewards platform and see our hand-curated experience menus.

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