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 daily. 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 reading of 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. Instead, you should look for 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 with team spirit, in the relationships between individual employees, or simply the office workspace.

2. Number of absences

Another indicator 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 fewer hours than their employment contract dictates? If yes, that might cause concern, 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 employee carelessness (or carefulness). In an ideal world, carelessness would be monitored on a regular basis in a way that enables company-wide analysis and comparison to address downturns in quality.

5. Antisocial behaviour

Even with a clear vision and long-term goals giving guidelines, people are less motivated to perform in a poor work atmosphere. Unfortunately, the antisocial behaviour of one individual can have a disproportionately dramatic impact. Therefore, antisocial behaviour – when it’s not a harmless personality trait – should be monitored through team leaders and peer reviews. Sometimes an employee that is negatively impacting one location, might become a positive resource in a different department or site.

6. Unwillingness to take responsibility or accept new projects

Highly motivated employees jump into new assignments, ensure projects are delivered, and provide excellent customer service. There can be many reasons why individuals avoid responsibility (such as a lack of experience or training), but the avoidance of responsibilities or new roles often indicates an employee has one foot outside the job.

These six basic metrics can 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 the size of your organisation, 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.