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The three secrets of employee motivation

By Andrew Dalglish -

People matter.

A marketer’s our raison d’etre is to understand people and influence their behaviour.  And for the majority of agencies supporting marketers, people are essentially what they’re selling – their time, their expertise and the experience they create for clients.

So if you’re building a marketing team or running an agency, motivating and retaining the best people is critical.

But what’s the secret?

A recent survey undertaken by Circle Research and Vodafone provides some valuable pointers.

We asked 505 senior managers in UK PLC to rank the most important determinants of employee satisfaction.  First by a significant margin is salary.  One third name this as the single most important driver of employee satisfaction.  There’s also a recognition that financial reward, whilst centre stage, isn’t the entire picture.  Ensuring people feel valued (34% of managers place in top three) and their work life balance (30%) are also felt to play an important role.

Ask employees the same question (we did – 861 of them) and it’s a similar picture.  One fifth will name remuneration (18%) or their work life balance (17%) as the single most important sources of employment happiness.

But in reality the truth is more complex.  You see, people don’t always know what really motivates them.  So to uncover the true drivers of happiness we isolated unusually happy employees and using some statistical wizardry explored how else they differed from the average employee.

The results are revealing.  Base salary and work life balance actually have only a moderate correlation with job satisfaction.  They matter along with a handful of other factors related to working conditions, but are the basics.

Outstanding employers add three secret ingredients.  They inspire through their leadership.  They invigorate by providing people with enjoyable, stimulating roles.  And they make people feel valued individually whilst at the same time creating a sense that they’re part of something bigger – part of a tribe which shares a common identity and has bought into the same vision.

Read the full report on talent management  here – Vodafone Perspective Series

How do you motivate your team?  Share your tips in the comments area below.


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  1. Steve Hodgekinson

    Thanks Andrew, it’s always interesting to see the results. We ran a similar survey last August and found as usual salary coming out on top, but a surprise was location came out 2nd. We didn’t ask about their happiness, but I think that is a factor to definitely add in for this year, which should hopefully give some interesting analysis.

  2. James

    What details can you offer about how you determined what employees were “unusually” happy? That is something I would be interested in knowing what were your constants for your research?

    • Andrew Dalglish

      Hi James,

      Employees rated satisfaction with their employer on a scale of 1 to 10. ‘Unusually happy’ employees are those who gave the highest satisfaction ratings when compared to the 861 others who took part in the survey (i.e. there’s not a set value at which ‘unusuaully happy’ starts, it’s relative to other responses).

      Hope that answers your question.



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