Is it a managers job to motivate their staff?

Employee motivation is a hot topic with Argos launching the UK’s first official Employee Motivation Day in January 2015. A recent survey, conducted by Argos for Business, has found that more than half of employees regularly feel demotivated at work. However, what is seemingly unclear is whose responsibility it is to ensure that employees keep their head in the game. 

Is it solely the responsibility of the manager to ensure that employees stay focused and engaged with their work? Michelle Malay Carter says not and that the job of a manager is to match people to their roles; practice effective management and create work enabling conditions. Others tend to agree, believing that motivation is internal and should come from an individual.  

Research shows that some of the reasons that Brits remain in their jobs is because: 

  1. They have good relationships with their colleagues 
  2. They have good relationships with their boss 
  3. They enjoy what they do (who knew?) 
  4. They take on responsibility 
  5. They make a difference 

These reasons are all synonymous with the fact that it isn’t necessarily the pay rises and incentives, although these don’t go unappreciated, that motivate people to work, it is the people that they work with that appear to be the decider. So, if a manager is getting their job right (according to Carter) and matching people to the right roles and creating work enabling conditions, they are effectively the facilitator for motivation amongst their team.  

This information is key for small businesses which may not have the funds that they would like to be able to spend on staff incentive schemes or annual pay rises. Here are some pointers for managers who want to keep driven staff on board. 


In a small team communication is important. This will help build relationships with your colleagues and give staff the sense of belonging to a team.


All staff want to feel that they are appreciated by their organisation so it’s crucial that companies actively recognise the efforts and talents of their employees,” says Charles Elvin, ILM chief executive. This can easily be done with a simple thank you or praise for a job well done.


Identifying key areas of career progression combined with encouragement and support can show an individual that you see the potential in them, even if they don’t see it in themselves. Having someone else believe you can is a real confidence booster. 

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About The Author

Mel is the Digital Marketing Manager at breatheHR. She regularly contributes insights into current SME and HR trends as well as reporting on breatheHR news and updates.