You’ve probably always intuitively known that employee motivation—the internal drive, desire, and commitment to “get the job done”—matters a great deal within your organization.

In fact, study after study validates your gut feeling and shows that employee motivation has a direct impact on an organization’s bottom line: Highly motivated employees work harder, have better relationships with both internal and external customers, are absent less often, and continue working at the organization longer.

However, it’s alarming to find out that 70% of the U.S. workforce is not motivated at work (Gallup, 2013; Too often, these workers are simply “punching-the-clock” and do not possess that certain “fire-in-the-belly” or self-starting and self-driven mind-set that ultimately drives superior performance.

To help remedy this issue, the majority of organizations adopt an intervention focus. That is, organizations leverage the results from employee surveys to identify critical areas for motivating employees. For example, survey results may suggest that the organization does not provide standards by which employees can judge their work or that the organization does not offer employees regular rewards or recognition—both of which likely hinder employee motivation.

In order to achieve substantial improvement in these and other areas, organizations need to invest a great deal of energy, effort, and resources into transforming their culture and values. By the time positive changes are taking hold, some of the top performers may have already jumped ship for better opportunities. Simply put, many organizations fall short of actively motivating their workforce, and they often intervene after it is too late to save the most motivated players on the team.

Our research suggests that organizations may want to consider adopting a prevention focus to help cultivate employee motivation. For over the past year, Wonderlic has been collecting information on thousands of employees, from hundreds of organizations, across all industries. We have found that, regardless of the employee’s job, department, management level, organization, or industry, there are a handful of stable characteristics, work preferences, and work styles that make some employees more motivated to perform at higher levels than others. More specifically, we found that employees with higher motivation potential were…

  • 2.7 times more likely to be actively engaged at work,
  • 2.6 times more likely be rated as “top performers” by their supervisors, and
  • 1.9 times less likely to either be terminated or quit

…as compared to employees with lower motivation potential.

It’s important for organizations hire those with higher motivation potential to help drive organizational health, productivity, and profitability. You no longer have to rely on your hunch to gauge an applicant’s motivation. Now you can use the Wonderlic Motivation Potential Assessment (MPA) to pinpoint those who are driven to succeed. As my grandma used to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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