The 5 Best Ways to Motivate Employees Under Adverse Conditions


The best way to get employees excited about work is to offer them the motivation to work. Variable pay should be designed in such a way that the employees feel that they have a chance of achieving it.

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The ways to motivate employees – Intrinsic motivation is when the employee gets motivation from within one’s self such as self-determination, need for achievement and power, etc, whereas extrinsic motivation is when the employee gets motivation from outside such as salary, variable pay, bonus, etc.

Feedback is the best intrinsic motivation an employee can get in an organization. Feedback should be constructive for it to become the intrinsic motivation. 

Frederick Herzberg has proposed a two-factor theory that relates intrinsic factors to job satisfaction and extrinsic factors to job dissatisfaction. This theory is called the Motivation-hygiene theory. Under this theory, the factors that lead to job satisfaction are different from those that lead to job dissatisfaction.

If managers who try to eliminate the factors that can create job dissatisfaction may not bring job satisfaction to the employees.

For example, if a manager asks the employees to complete the pending work by Friday so that they need not come to the office on Saturday and Sunday does not bring satisfaction to the employees, it would rather eliminate dissatisfaction. 

Conditions such as company policy, administration, supervision, and salary are adequate in the job, people will not be dissatisfied but would not be satisfied. If managers want to motivate their employees then they should emphasize factors such as promotions, personal growth, recognition, responsibility, and achievement.

The presence of these factors would bring satisfaction to the employees whereas the absence of these would result in no satisfaction which is not the same as dissatisfaction. 

The theory states that motivation should be intrinsic or internal as external motivation or extrinsic motivation cannot hold the employees longer in the organization. If extrinsic motivation is more than intrinsic motivation, then employees would work only for money or any other external motivation factor.

Intrinsic motivation results in qualitative work whereas extrinsic motivation results in quantitative work. Internal motivation such as willingness or desire to work can only keep the employees motivated for a longer period of time. 

5 Best Ways to Motivate Employees:

Promotional opportunities:

Promotions are the opportunities that are given to employees to grow in their careers. Promotions can be of different types: 

  • Designation: The designation of the employee can be changed thereby prompting the employee to a higher designation which is a form of promotion. Designation change need not necessarily be a change in the roles and responsibilities of the employee. The designation change would result in internal motivation as well as external motivation for the employee. Internal motivation comes from increased roles or responsibilities whereas external motivation comes from increased pay and other things.
  • Horizontal promotion: In this promotion, the pay of the employee would increase but the roles and responsibilities would be the same. Promotion from assistant professor to associate professor or promotion from assistant manager without a team to manage without a team comes under horizontal promotion.
  • Horizontal promotion: This refers to the upward promotion of the employees with a change in skills and experience. It brings a change in the salary of the employee as well as the grade or status.

    In sales, it can be seen as a promotion from manager to senior manager with an increase in salary as well as an opportunity to handle a team. 

Dry promotion is when a company promotes an employee without an increase in salary and only the grade of the employee would be upgraded. This act would cause dissatisfaction and lead to demotivation. 

Personal growth:

Personal growth refers to the continuous process of self-improvement to grow stronger, more confident, and more effective as a person. Personal growth results in increased performance among the employees as it would enable the employees to meet their goals and achieve their targets.

It is important to provide the employees with timely feedback and constructive feedback which is the best source of intrinsic motivation.


The other way to motivate an employee is to recognize the performance of the employee in a timely manner. The recognition of an employee’s performance happens only at the time of review and if the recognition is not satisfied, then the employee might get demotivated to work.

It is necessary to recognize the hard work of the employee at the right time and in the right place to increase motivation among the employees. The year-end appraisal would be the best way to recognize the employees, but many companies would dilute the process resulting in demotivation among the employees. 


Employees who love to take responsibility should be allowed to take on certain responsibilities which would increase their motivation. Employees expect to be promoted and given additional responsibilities in lieu of their work which acts as a source of intrinsic motivation for the employees.

Responsibilities would mean that employees get a chance to get recognized and this would increase the internal motivation of the employees.


Achievement of the set targets should be rewarded so that the employees would be motivated. Companies need to create an atmosphere of belongingness in the organization by celebrating the achievements of the employees which would increase motivation among the employees and push them to work harder. 

The popular ways to motivate employees to keep them motivated in challenging circumstances are important to understand. If the mindset of the employees is understood properly then any of the above ways can be employed to motivate the employees.

Employees cannot alone be motivated by increasing their salary or giving extra benefits. These kinds of actions come under extrinsic motivation which may not last for a longer period.

Instead, organizations can take certain actions so as to increase the intrinsic motivation among the employees to reduce the attrition rate.

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Susheel Agarwal

Namaste. I'm Abhinay Nedunuru, a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of India with a passion to make insurance simple and crisp. I write on insurance and investment. I have a passion for teaching and training in particular to insurance. I'm currently doing my PhD from IIM in Management.