Closing the workplace motivation gap

Written by Emma Molloy Tuesday 05 July 2022
Motivating employees is an age-old problem for managers. In a post-Covid world, might providing purpose be the answer?
Three people standing on an arrow which is pointing to a far off target

“Is there a motivational and wellbeing challenge at work? Or is it a myth?” This was the question that author, keynote speaker and Teach First founder Jo Owen CMgr CCMI posed to a group of fellow CMI Chartered Companions in a recent networking session. “And should we actually expect managers to be actively motivational?”

Jo has done a lot of work on this topic, writing on motivation for both CMI and the Financial Times, as well as exploring it in many of his books – including, most recently, how motivation relates to hybrid working. 

He explained to the Companions that there is a clear motivation gap in many workplaces, which has been made worse by Covid and remote working. What’s more, managers are not succeeding when it comes to closing it. “Motivation is one of the top five expectations that followers have of their leaders,” he said. However, his research has shown that while two-thirds of bosses think they’re good at motivation, only a third of their employees agree. 

Provocatively, Jo also questioned whose problem this is. “Do we really want to lay this responsibility on managers as well?” he asked. “Why do we want to make managers do something when they’re not so good at it?” In that case, where do we even start if we want to improve motivation in the workplace? 

Keep reading to learn more about Jo’s thoughts on managers’ role in motivation


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