6 Key HR Metrics for Measuring Employee Motivation

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

As we are slowly but surely defining the future of work, organisations are increasingly making their employees’ well being one of their top priorities. Other than obvious ethical reasons, employee productivity motivates companies to take better care of their workforce.

In short, happy employees are more efficient at work.

Of course, happiness is such a subjective and personal indicator, and it’s far from easy to measure. The next best thing to measure employee wellbeing is to measure their motivation.

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

But how can you tell if your organisation is providing enough to its employees? How do you keep your employees motivated? And why does it matter to begin with?

Now, if you don’t know where to look or what to look at in the first place, measuring levels of employee motivation won’t be easy either. What’s more, as organisations all around the globe are increasingly implementing remote working options if and when possible, measuring motivation becomes even more complex, and anonymous questionnaires might not cut it for you to take the pulse of your organisation.


Why does measuring employee motivation matter?

Let’s not forget that an organisation is only as great as its people. In application, data shows that the most successful companies out there also have the most motivated employees.

We also know from recent research that motivation isn’t just something that happens. It comes from employee wellbeing. A report from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School revealed that happy employees are, on average, 13 % more efficient at work.

There’s more to it.

Happy employees aren’t just more productive; they also tend to stay longer, thus reducing turnover costs for organisations.

In other words, measuring employee performance and motivation means taking the pulse of your organisation.

The simple reasoning behind measuring employee motivation

Happy employees = Higher Employee Engagement.
Higher Employee Engagement = Lower Employee Turnover.

Now, what should HR professionals be looking at to measure employee motivation? Here are 6 HR metrics we think you should focus on.

6 crucial employee motivation metrics to track

We singled out six key employee motivation indicators to help you take the pulse of your organisation.

1. Monitor sudden changes in days working from home

Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with employees working from home! Besides, data shows that it makes employees happy and more productive.

However, you should look for a sudden change in patterns: Has the number of days working from home for a given employee significantly increased over a short period, without any explanation?

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken everything, and remote work became the new norm for quite many workers around the world. Having said that, as we’re slowly heading back to the office in a hybrid way of working, you should still keep an eye on where employees decide to spend their time.

For instance, an employee who used to come to the office a couple of days a week suddenly increasing their number of days worked from home might indicate issues in the team spirit, tension with other co-workers or, worse, early signs of burnout.

Of course, to see changes in patterns, you need historical data and a way to aggregate itSee how Sympa can help.

2. Monitor unexplained absences

Another sign of an ailing atmosphere in the organisation is an increase in the absence rate.

If we leave the infamous influenza season out of the picture and COVID-19 related leaves for the time being, an increase in the number of absences should raise red flags for HR teams.

Of course, it could be that an employee may have unplanned family obligations, dentist visits and plumbing emergencies all at once. But it could also have a deeper meaning and originate from a conflict at work, a stressful project, or even a lack of interest in the job.

Whatever the root of the problem, HR teams should identify such trends and take the time to chat with affected employees to solve the situation before it gets out of hand.

3. Keep an eye on short(er) days

Are employees regularly working fewer hours than their employment contract dictates?

If the answer is yes, it could be that they manage their time exceptionally well and can complete tasks well in advance.

If, however, productivity cannot explain an increase in shorter days, it could be another reason to worry about their overall motivation, especially if the following three metrics also start indicating a downward spiral.

4. Evaluate outputs and beware of carelessness

Happy and committed employees are likely to plough through every last detail and deliver only their finest work. But the opposite is also possible.

The less involved and motivated an employee, the more likely they are to be careless – by default – in their work and make more mistakes than usual. This is a slippery slope that HR teams need to take very seriously as it can obviously lead to dangerous situations in some jobs.

In the best-case scenario, you would be able to identify potential carelessness early, through data, and try to solve the issue, together with the employee and their direct manager.

5. Look for antisocial behaviour

While we – humans – are social animals and fuel off of interactions with others, interacting with peers does require a certain level of commitment.

For this reason, we know that people who lack motivation are likely to put less energy into interacting with colleagues and might even develop antisocial behaviours in some cases.

Now, toxic behaviour from one individual can have a dramatic, more-than-proportionate impact on the atmosphere at work and it can literally drain other employees’ motivation. In other words, it should be strictly monitored through team leaders and peer reviews.

“Take the time to analyse all situations and consider all options. Many factors can explain antisocial attitudes and, for instance, an employee who might negatively impact the atmosphere at one location might change their attitude at a different department or location.”
Anna Aarnisalo, VP, People and Culture at Sympa.

6. Unwillingness to take responsibility or accept new projects

Highly motivated employees will jump into new assignments and give their absolute best to deliver projects on time and exceed customers’ expectations. On the other hand, demotivated employees might shy away from their responsibilities.

Here again, it’s not all black and white, and many factors can explain this (a lack of experience or a lack of training to acquire particular skills, for instance). Still, avoiding responsibilities or not showing excitement to take on a new role could indicate that an employee already has one foot out the door.

Collect – Measure – Aggregate – Decide

By monitoring these six strategic HR metrics, you will have a starting point and a general idea of how your people and your organisation are doing.

The first three (remote working, unexplained absences and shorter days) can be tracked easily with the help of a simple HR tool coupled with a sound time tracking system. The latter three (carelessness, toxic behaviour and the unwillingness to take on new responsibilities) require a comprehensive HR system that will aggregate 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 use a reliable HR system to collect, measure and aggregate accurate HR data (both current and historical) so that you can base your decisions on facts, instead of your own opinion or sentiment.”
Kim Koivula, Head of Marketing, Nordics at Sympa.



And you’re all set!

Are you interested in learning more about how a comprehensive HR system like Sympa could help you take the pulse of your organisation at all times? Do reach out!