Employee motivation comes from having a sense of purpose, as well as enough support and security to make daily work feel meaningful.

As my colleague Martta wrote in her blog post, the most successful companies tend to have the most motivated employees. But how can you tell if you’ve painted a big enough vision and whether your employees are motivated to do their best?

Sometimes it can be hard to evaluate how motivated your people are, especially if leaders are not in daily or even weekly contact with all of their subordinates. It can also be hard to put a finger on the true level of motivation within your organisation, as people’s outlook changes day by day. This is also the reason why for example questionnaires need to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, we’ve found that by monitoring a set of six basic figures, you can get a pretty good indication about the pulse of your organisation.

How to measure employee motivation?

Here are our six indicators for measuring motivation in the workplace:

1. Number of days working at home

There’s nothing wrong with employees occasionally working from home, as there are countless examples of when it’s good for both the company and the employee. What you should look for, however, are changes in patterns. Has the number of days worked from home vastly increased without a visible reason?

Of course, in order to see changes in patterns, you need historical data. Increases in the number of days worked from home might indicate issues in the team spirit, in the relationships between individual employees or simply in the office or workspace.

2. Number of absences

Another sign of an ailing atmosphere in the organisation is an increase in absences. Again, it pays to adjust the number of absences to seasonal trends (a typical example being the autumn influenza peak) to help determine ways to resolve the issue (i.e. whether to simply administer influenza vaccinations or to deep-dive into discussions and analysis with employees).

3. Number of shorter days

Are employees regularly working less hours than their employment contract dictates? If yes, it might be a reason for worrying, especially if the next three metrics also start indicating a downward spiral.

4. Carelessness

When you are highly motivated, you are also likely to plough through every last detail and deliver only the finest work. However, the opposite is also true, and special attention needs to be paid in assessing employees’ carelessness (or carefulness). The best scenario would naturally be to realise this on a regular basis, in a way that enables company-wide analysis and comparison to address the poor ratings.

5. Unsocial behavior

Even if there’s a clear vision and long-term goals giving guidelines, people are less motivated to perform their best in a poor atmosphere at work. Unfortunately, unsocial behavior from one individual can have a dramatic, more-than-proportionate, impact on the atmosphere. Therefore, unsocial behavior – when it’s not a harmless personality trait – should be monitored through team leader and peer reviews. Sometimes an employee who might have a negative impact on the atmosphere at one location, might change into a positive resource at a different department or site.

6. Unwillingness to take responsibility or accept new projects

Highly motivated employees jump into new assignments and take personal care that projects are delivered and customers serviced excellently. There can be many reasons why individuals avoid responsibility (such as a lack of experience or training), but avoiding responsibilities or new roles often indicates that an employee already has one foot outside the job.

These six basic metrics give you a starting point, and a general idea of how your people and your organisation are doing. The first three metrics can usually be made visible with the help of an HR solution and/or a good time tracking system. The latter three metrics call for a comprehensive HR system that also aggregates feedback from team leaders and peers.

No matter what size your organisation is, if you wish to draw a clear and unbiased picture of your people, you should rely on proper HR data (both current and historic) and a reliable solution for collecting and measuring it, not just your own opinion or sentiment.

In the next few weeks, we will be sharing more information on what specific metrics you should use to keep track of motivation as well as tips on how to boost motivation in your organisation.

Interested in finding the right HR solutions to detect and evaluate the skills in your organisation and measure the motivation of your employees? We want to help you! Do not hesitate to get in touch with the author, Petri Lankinen.