10 Interesting and Surprising Statistics About What Motivates Employees and How You Can Use This Knowledge in Your Business

Most business leaders already know that motivated employees are the backbone of any successful business, but have you ever paused to consider what truly drives them? 

It’s not always about the paycheck. In fact, some of the most compelling factors are far less tangible. From recognition and company culture to personal growth opportunities, there’s a treasure trove of aspects that ignite passion in your team members year after year. 

So, let’s dive into ten surprising statistics that shed light on employee motivation and explore how this invaluable insight can be harnessed to elevate your business to new heights.

10 Motivational Statistics and What They Can Tell You

Dive into the heart of what propels your team forward. These ten statistics offer vital insights that can unlock the potential within your workforce and catapult your business’s success. 

Motivation Statistic #1:

The number of employees who feel motivated all over the world is going up, but the numbers are still abysmal. Only 23% of employees across the globe state that they’re engaged.

Source: Gallup

77% of employees are completely unmotivated, and that’s a problem. Not only does mass demotivation contribute to poor quality work, excessive absenteeism, and a toxic work environment, but these issues compile the longer employers ignore the problem.


And for the most part, this problem is easy to solve. There are so many ways to show appreciation, too. From browsing Successories recognition essentials to unlimited PTO, you’re only limited to your creativity. All you have to do is commit to building a motivated culture. 

Motivation Statistic #2:

An incentive program is 100% necessary for motivation. In fact, 66% of staff are motivated to stay at their job if a high-quality rewards and recognition program is in place.

Source: Harvard Business Review 


Many employees leave to pursue jobs that pay them more; that’s no secret. However, of the 89% of employers who believed their employees left because of the money, only 12% left for that reason. It’s much more common for employees to leave because they feel unappreciated.


While it’s very important to pay your employees fairly, we know this isn’t the only part of the equation. However, building a rewards program is one of the best ways to retain staff. Speaking of bonuses, another statistic in this area shows that in the US, 9.6% is the average bonus percentage given by employers.

Motivation Statistic #3:

90% of HR workers agree that reward and recognition programs drive positive business results. At the same time, 91% agreed that recognition positively correlated with employee retention.

Source: Reward Gateway 


Not only do employees agree that recognition keeps them around, but the HR department (aka, the employees that work closely with your staff) believe this, as well. Not only that, but HR departments know that motivated employees make their companies much more money. 


For this reason, employers need to empower their human resources staff to create policies that work in their employees’ best interests. If it’s difficult to get stakeholders on board with these moves, start tracking employee motivation with and without these changes. 

Motivation Statistic #4:

Things like goals, development, recognition, and manager effectiveness are tied to engagement. In fact, employees who know they’ll be recognized are 2.7x more likely to be highly engaged. 

Source: Quantum Workplace


Simply knowing that you’re going to be recognized for your hard work makes your work harder, and why wouldn’t it? Doing a job well done will give us pride in our own accomplishments, but we feel better when we’re acknowledged, whether that’s by our peers or managers. 


With that said, your recognition can’t be generic. Giving your staff personalized awards or compliments goes a long way, so ask your employees how they prefer to be recognized.

Motivation Statistic #5:

Of the employees who say they have positive recognition experiences, 72% say that their employers or managers acknowledge the “little things” they do for the organization. 

Source: Gallup


It’s often thought that recognition programs are expensive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to data from SHRM, HR professionals are more likely to rate their recognition program as “excellent” after they invest 1% of their payroll. And that 1% does a lot of good. 


But even if you don’t have a positive cash flow at the moment, compliments are always free. A small “thank you” can really bring a smile to your employee’s face, and there’s no downside to recognizing your staff. In fact, happy staff are 13% more productive than unhappy staff.

Motivation Statistic #6:

Of employees surveyed on what motivates them, 87% said development opportunities, 82% said purposeful work, 77% said flexible work opportunities, and 70% said a valued option.

Source: Zipdo


In that same study, only 34% said they feel a strong connection with their workplace goals. The study also goes on to say that employers aren’t meeting the majority of their employees’ needs, and that’s a bad thing. If we don’t listen to our employees, they won’t feel motivated.


Employers need to give their employees more flexibility and development opportunities. And failing that, they need to be honest about why they can provide these options at the moment. 

Motivation Statistic #7:

Not only do employees feel a disconnect with workplace goals, they don’t even know what they are. Only 40% of employees have any clue about their organization’s goals and strategies. 

Source: Bain and Company


In a previous statistic, we proved that employees want to spend time doing purposeful work, but how can an employee know their work has purpose if they don’t know why their tasks matter? If your employees are purposeless, they’ll lack the motivation they need to do a great job.


Fortunately, this problem is incredibly easy to solve. First, by telling employees why their labor is valued. Second, by connecting business goals with an employee’s personal goals. And if your business goals change, you’ll need to inform your employees about your new direction. 

Motivation Statistic #8:

Positive feedback is important, but so is negative feedback. 92% of employees agree that appropriately delivered negative feedback is effective at improving their performance.

Source: Zenger and Folkman


Gallup found that 90% of employees feel disengaged after they receive negative feedback, and who could blame them? According to Gallup, feedback isn’t given appropriately. It’s usually non-constructive, borders on bullying, and seems to be done with poor intentions.


However, if managers provide constructive negative feedback (and sandwich is positive comments), their employees will feel motivated to grow within the organization. 

Motivation Statistic #9:

Millennials, who represent the biggest portion of today’s workforce, prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews and feel this recognition is vital for their growth.

Source: Achievers


Millennials represent 38.6% of the workforce, the largest demographic before Generation X (34.8%). However, both demographics have something in common: they both prefer spontaneous recognition. Listening to over 70% of the workforce makes smart business sense.


Not only that, but on-the-spot recognition is more effective than delayed recognition because your employee can act on the feedback right away. Not only that, but employees don’t have to sit there and wonder if they’re doing something wrong or if their employers value them.

Motivation Statistic #10:

77% of HR executives believe that performance reviews don’t accurately reflect employee contributions and it often sets up an uncomfortable dynamic between employees and managers.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management

This stat is pretty important because it speaks to the difference between performance reviews and feedback. With performance reviews, communication is a one-way street. With feedback, open-door communication is possible, which increases employee trust and motivation.

Don’t make the mistake of just saying your opinion, either. Touch base with your employees every couple of weeks to see if they need more guidance or to reward them for their work. 

In Conclusion… 

Now that you’ve glimpsed the surprising truths behind what truly motivates employees, it’s time to take action. Consider this an invitation to reevaluate and reinvent your approach to fostering a thriving workplace. Start by implementing one or two strategies based on these insights, and observe the transformation in your team’s engagement and productivity right away. 


The success of your business lies in the hands of your motivated employees. So don’t wait. Empower them today and watch as both they and your business soar to incredible new heights.

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  • About the Curator

    Abelino Silva. Seeker of the truth. Purveyor of facts. Mongrel to the deceitful. All that, and mostly a blogger who enjoys acknowledging others that publish great content. Say hello 🙂

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