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Motivation & Morale: Not One in the Same

Motivation & Morale: Not One in the Same

Whether it's personal fulfillment, enjoyment, the challenges, or simply for love of the job, every person has their own reason for working, which is just as individual as they are. Even though our bottom line comes down to the compensation, employees are demonstrating the need of wanting something more from their work each and every day.

Employee motivation and morale are core fundamentals of establishing a positive work culture. Many managers have realized how motivation and morale can easily affect the areas of performance, employee retention and even their customers! One of the oldest definitions of management is "getting things done through others", and your employees are a major group of those 'others'. However, while many managers recognize their role in motivation and make an effort in implementing an incentive program to recognize employee performance, most take the leap with the thought that motivation and morale are one in the same. This can create and result in a frustrating experience for both the manager and their employees. Regardless of the industry or organization, the foundation begins with understanding the difference between motivation and morale.

Motivation (incentive, inspiration, drive, enthusiasm)

Motivation can be defined as a reason for engaging in a particular behavior. In the workplace, this can also be understood as...

  1. What makes people willing to work beyond the boundaries of their job description
  2. Enthusiasm, interest, or commitments that make someone want to go 'above and beyond'

Morale (confidence, self-esteem, spirits, drive)

Morale is regarded as the spirit, or tone of an organization, relationships, changes, and other elements. This feeling relates to their comfort, satisfaction, happiness, and can also be defined as...

  1. Level of confidence or optimism felt by a person or group of people
  2. One's overall attitude towards their job

Think of some of the most motivated people you've worked with; it's a safe bet that they felt upbeat and positive toward their work, which explains a high morale. Now think about those you know who have very little or no passion for their line of work. Are these people motivated to put more effort into what they do? Of course not! Workers with low morale won't be high performers. Until you remove the cause of their low morale, your attempts at motivation will fall flat.

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