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What motivates employees? – Understanding Triggers

motivated employee discussionThere is a lot of discussion in HR and management circles about what motivates employees. The traditional approach to employee motivation revolves heavily around bonuses and pay rises. Many studies have shown that this can have a negative effect on motivation and that it can create very negative consequences. You only have to look at the massive bonuses being awarded to investment bankers in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis to see how an excessive focus on bonuses can encourage poor behaviour.

Instead of focussing on pay many businesses and organisations are now looking at how encouraging a sense of self worth, creativity, freedom and responsibility can improve employee motivation.  There is also more focus on how non-monetary rewards such as flexible working hours, training and group activities can be used to motivate employees.

Unfortunately all of these approaches share the same problem. This is that they try to impose a single rewards system on all employees when the reality is that different employees will have their own individual motivational triggers.


What are triggers?

Triggers are one of the key concepts behind the PRINT® system of psychometric testing and personal insights. The PRINT® system was specifically designed to improve personal and team productivity. It comes with three essential concepts. These are

  • ‘Best Self’  – this is when we are being productive and using our strengths and talents well
  • ‘Shadow Behaviour’ – this is when we engage in negative  and unproductive behaviours
  • ‘Triggers’ are the negative events that disengage us from our Best Self and bring out our Shadow Self.

Triggers can be people, events, or circumstances that feel like an “attack” on your Unconscious Motivators. The purpose of PRINT® profiling is to identify what our Motivators are and how to avoid and manage triggers.

Each individual employee will have different unconscious motivators and different triggers. Helping employees to understand their triggers will allow them to spend more time in ‘Best Self’ mode where they are motivated and productive and less time in ‘Shadow Behaviour’ where they are not.

Studies show that the average manager spends 42% of their time dealing with ‘Shadow Behaviour’. Understanding what triggers are present in a team and how to avoid them can reduce this time and allow more time to be dedicated to practical improvements to the business.

MCS Partners are PRINT® accredited. This means that we can build a PRINT® profile for your employees and help them to understand how to avoid negative behaviour and remain focussed on their ‘Best Self’. By equipping your team with this information you can make you workforce more motivated and your business more productive.

To find out more about PRINT® profiling and how it can be used to help your employees stay motivated please give us a call on 01469 531580 or email at