As a business owner who is and always has been completely virtual, I have been asked this question many times over recent months. It's no surprise leaders are looking for ways to keep their employees engaged and working hard from remote locations.
But my answer to this question isn't what most would expect.
I don't look for ways to motivate myself or my staff because it doesn't work. Motivation isn't the key. Inspiration is, and here's why.
Alternative end results.
Motivation is linked to external end results, things like KPIs (key performance indicators), deadlines, or cash incentives. Motivation is fueled by temporary moments and fleeting rewards. While these can be very successful for short sprints or end of quarter pushes, they don't create lasting change.
Once the high of the quick reward subsides, reality hits, and employees are back to feeling disengaged with work. You could equate this to going on a juice cleanse. Eventually, you are going to have to eat a full meal again, and everything you lost is going to catch back up to you.
Inspiration creates truly lasting change. When you are able to inspire a team, there is never an end around the corner. The process is filled with moments of inspiration that lead from one to the next, and it never leaves you feeling depleted or unenthusiastic.
Motivation is singular while inspiration is for all. Employees who are inspired spend the day fighting for a cause that is bigger than them. When you can give your team something to believe in and be excited to work for, they will want to work harder...not feel obligated to do more.
One of the best ways to spark inspiration through culture is to prioritize employee well-being. What once was considered a "perk" needs to be adjusted and viewed as a necessity in your organization. Employees aren't machines. And while motivation works to increase output, inspiration is what feeds the foundation of a person's energy tank.
Wellness is a habit that must be built into the culture of an organization. Create a culture that prioritizes a vision, encourages holistic lifestyles, and allows employees to find vitality through their work. By being more connected with themselves, employees are better able to work at a higher capacity, explore more creative solutions, and engage on a deeper level.
In his book Drive, author Daniel Pink's research found that drive is amplified by sparking autonomy, mastery, and purpose in employees' daily life. When you offer a sense of freedom and purpose along with appropriately pushing an employee's boundaries, they will find themselves more engaged and committed.
Inspiration leads people to want to work for you. Motivation leads people to have to work for you.
Seriously consider this the next time you ask someone how to spark motivation.