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Building a Culture that Fosters Employee Motivation

June 17, 2024   ·  

Understanding and fostering motivation is vital to organisational performance, yet it remains a complex challenge.  

How do we truly understand what drives individuals in an organisation?  

We’ve developed tools that help leaders tune in to both organisational and individual motivation and drive business success. 


Continuous listening: The key to more good days and fewer bad days  

At Harkn, we believe that understanding the ebb and flow of good and bad days in the workplace is crucial to fostering motivation.  

One of the things we’ve been able to do is help people see manifestations of motivation and morale through our Good Day Ratio (GDR) metric and its component parts: good days and bad days.  

Good days, where employees feel engaged, valued, and productive, can be seen as the essence of high motivation. Conversely, bad days – which are often marked by disengagement and frustration – highlight areas where motivation may be lacking.  

With this level of real-time insight into what’s going on with your people, GDR becomes a live indicator of motivation and morale in your organisation.  

So, how do we create more good days and reduce the bad ones? The answer lies in continuous listening.  

“As leaders, it’s important that we’re constantly taking stock of what life is like for employees on every rung of the ladder and making sure they have what they need to live well while they’re doing their jobs.”  

William Craig, CEO of WebFX and Forbes contributor  

Continuous listening involves consistently monitoring and understanding employee sentiment.

By regularly checking in and engaging in open dialogue, employees feel heard, valued, and cared for. This not only helps identify areas needing attention but also reinforces a culture of belonging and care, showing your people they matter.  

When people feel they matter, their experience matters, and their personal success matters, this dramatically influences their motivation and performance.  


What else do we know about motivation at work?  

Dan Pink's model for motivation at work, taken from his book 'Drive.'

There are many theories on motivation, but Dan Pink’s model – based on 40 years of research – is one of the most practical and impactful to implement.  

Dan Pink, an expert on human motivation and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, shows us a huge disconnect between what science knows and what business does.  

In his TED talk, “The Puzzle of Motivation,” he reveals the substance of his findings from his book. He highlights how 40 years of proven research on human motivation goes largely ignored by companies.  

Business operating models are generally based on extrinsic motivators (where external rewards influence our behaviour). He discusses how the carrot-and-stick approach to incentivising largely never works outside of a surprisingly narrow set of circumstances and often destroys motivation and creativity.  

The proven secret to high performance is intrinsic motivation (where internal rewards influence our behaviour), where we are committed to work that matters to us.  

According to Pink, the key drivers for increasing employee performance, productivity, and satisfaction are:  


Purpose involves doing things because they matter and are in service of something larger than ourselves – a higher or outward-looking mission.  

When employees feel that their work has meaning and contributes to the organisation’s success, this fosters a sense of accomplishment and belonging, which boosts motivation and wellbeing.  


Autonomy is when employees are empowered to have ownership and responsibility in areas of their day-to-day work-life balance, and career development. 

According to Dan Pink, “Traditional notions of management are great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement, self-direction works better.”  


Mastery is the urge to get better and better at something that matters. This involves learning new skills and building our capacity to address new challenges. When employees feel like they are growing and developing, they are more likely to be satisfied with their work.  

Providing opportunities for professional development and continuous learning is crucial for fostering mastery.  


Implement continuous listening for better motivation  

To effectively integrate these drivers into your workplace, continuous listening is essential.

Regular feedback and open communication channels allow leaders to understand and address the evolving needs and aspirations of their teams.

This ongoing dialogue helps in aligning employees’ work with their intrinsic motivators – purpose, autonomy, and mastery.  


What does this mean for managers and leaders?  

For managers and leaders, fostering a motivated workforce through continuous listening and intrinsic motivators is not just beneficial but essential.  

Actively listening to your employees, empowering them, and providing opportunities for growth will unlock their full potential and drive sustained success.  

By weaving the principles of purpose, autonomy, and mastery into daily management practices, leaders can create an environment where employees thrive, leading to more good days, fewer bad ones, and – ultimately – a more motivated and productive organisation.  


Wendy Firlotte
Wendy Firlotte

Head of Engagement , Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn

MotivationEmployee engagementHealthy companiesPurpose

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