British employees are a happy bunch

Ahead of the second Employee Motivation Day on 25th February, a study into the behaviours of the UK’s workforce highlights that team dynamics play the most important role in employee satisfaction, with two-thirds enjoying being part of a team. This is especially significant for SMEs who need to ensure they recruit self-motivated staff, who can encourage and motivate other team members to perform to the best of their ability to drive the business forward.

The research examined how various personality types within an SME take on very different roles. Businesses can thrive by encouraging a collaborative working environment that allows each personality type to have an impact – while there is no ‘I’, there is definitely a ‘me’ in team.

The most popular work personality is Captain Questions. A fifth of workers place themselves in this category, with exploring and problem solving what they enjoy most about work. These are the most likely candidates to call collective brainstorms to reach a decision and also the most likely to encourage free-thinking and offer thanks for all suggestions and input.

The second most popular personality type is, conversely, Independent Introverts, with 15 per cent of employees making considered and informed decisions on their own before expressing them out loud, followed by the Confident Creatives (11 per cent). Just over one in five employees will be a Big Idea Bod,understanding that it will be others in the group who make their ‘big picture’ thinking feasible.

Despite clearly being a nation of team players, the research reveals that 56 per cent of workers believe they themselves are their biggest motivators, suggesting a personal ambition to make an impact is driving workers. Perhaps this is why only a small group (one in seven employees) are People-Orientated Performers – those eager to motivate others instead of themselves.

For this personality type, a third believed that even the smallest gesture of thanking people for their input goes a long way in motivating them to participate and case in point, three quarters of workers remember a time they were verbally praised.

A third of workers claim that simply encouraging collaborative working and allowing the different personality types to complement each other is the best way to motivate employees. 36 per cent of employees thought taking the time to listen to other ways of working helped increase motivation. A quarter of employees also claim that being involved in decisions helps to boost positive attitudes in the workplace.

The study comes ahead of Employee Motivation Day 2016, a day created by Argos for Business to inspire passion and appreciation across the country’s workforce. The leading provider of incentive and motivational solutions is hosting this annual event to encourage organisations of all sizes to put motivation to the forefront of business thinking and champion creative ways of engaging staff.

Emma Glennon, head of key clients at Argos for Business, says “When it comes to motivation, SMEs and entrepreneurs need to be self-motivated and work with similar self-starters to meet business objectives. There are often doom and gloom stories about the daily grind but our research casts a positive light on the UK workforce, revealing that many employees are happy at work.

“The team dynamic findings are interesting as they show a delicate balance between working as a collective, while being self-motivated. This ‘best-of-both-worlds’ type of work ethos stimulates personal satisfaction and ambition, within collaborative and positive working environments.

“Entrepreneurs and SME owners should acknowledge and reward their teams in ways that suit the individual. Ultimately, a one size fits all approach is not advisable, particularly when you consider how many personalities make up a team within an SME.”

So, what can SMEs do to boost motivation among their teams? Argos for Business is working alongside 3 times Olympic medalist and motivational speaker Roger Black, as part of the campaign to put motivation to the forefront of business thinking and champion creative ways of engaging staff.

Using his experiences in the sporting arena and translating this into the workplace, he offers the following top tips:

Give your employees more responsibility

In 1991, Team GB won a gold medal for the 4×400 metre relay team in the World Championships. In a brave move, and instead of listening to the Coach, we made the decision to change the running order the night before the race, and that decision ultimately resulted in a gold medal. The final for this race is still considered one of the biggest upsets in athletics, and is talked about regularly.

Within an SME, by giving your team members responsibility to make decisions about what they do, you will see an increase in engagement and a greater commitment to tasks – because they have made it their own. In 2015, Argos for Business’ research showed that taking on responsibility was the main motivator for over a quarter of UK employees, and this resonates in the sporting arena, as well as the workplace.

Organise team building workshops 

In sport, you tend to spend every day with your teammates pursuing a goal, whereas in business you don’t actually spend that much time together, especially as some team members may work remotely. In fact, 21 per cent of the UK workforce say they receive praise and recognition via email, rather than face-to-face. You’re on the same team but you’re not actually physically together, day in, day out. The challenge is getting people to have face-to-face contact more regularly – this can be achieved by organising team building sessions offsite.

Make training available to your employees 

Athletes are driven by a desire to improve and get better at something. The British team were good at what they did, but we all had an innate desire to do even better, and find creative ways of improving and that drove success. By offering training to employees, managers can help them to realise their goals by giving them the education they need, and ensuring they learn about new aspects of business and even higher-level managerial skills they can use further down the line.

Work smart, not hard

Just because you or your employees clock 15 hours a day at the office doesn’t mean you have accomplished things in a smart way. Make sure you take regular breaks and step away from your desk and encourage employees to do the same.

In practice, hard work can get an athlete to the finals of a competition, but smart work will get the athlete on the medal podium. Hard work is not the only factor that will determine if the athlete is successful or not – many other factors will also contribute to the athlete’s success, such as practice, tactics, preparation and strategy.

Set clear goals and offer words of encouragement 

Like my 4x400m team, different departments and teams within an organisation need to set goals, whether that’s yearly, monthly or even daily. It’s also important that these goals are based on a clear collective vision to inspire the team, while making sure realistic targets have been set so that goals aren’t unachievable. With the goal in sight, employees will feel more motivated to perform to the best of their ability. As a business leader or manager, it is equally important to recognise the team’s hard work – for over a third of UK employees, all it takes is a simple ‘thank you’ to motivate them during the nine to five.

Employees and employers can get involved in National Employee Motivation Day by downloading the motivation resource pack from, or by visiting the dedicated Facebook and Twitter pages, using the hashtags #EmployeeMotivationDay #EMD #MakeTheTeam and #NatMotivateDay.