What key challenges do managers face in 2023 in motivating today’s workforce?

Motivating today's workforce
Today’s workforce is more diverse than at any time in history.

The world is becoming progressively more digital with every passing year, so today’s workforce looks a lot different than it did 25 years ago. This progression, expedited by the global pandemic of Covid19, presents new challenges that today’s employers must learn to navigate to motivate their teams, prevent employee burnout and minimize turnover. 

To understand and overcome the challenges in motivating today’s workforce, especially companies with significant numbers of non-desk workers, we must understand both the challenges and the motivators of new age, digital employees.

For example, let’s start with the challenges.

The top challenges motivating today’s workforce by the vast majority of employers

Building a great employee experience

The ideal employee experience is truly unique to each individual. Thus, the flexibility to understand the specific needs of your individual employees is essential. With that in mind, these best practices will help you in motivating today’s workforce.

Listen to people. Ensure that employees have a means of communication. Many non-desk workers are not connected to the company in a way that allows two-way communication.

Get feedback from surveys and focus groups, then implement change if need be. Keep an open channel of communication so that employees feel connected. Be committed to employee development and growth.

Equip and enable managers to support their teams. Creating a positive employee experience goes a long way with employee engagement and motivating today’s workforce.

Creating calm and reassurance in periods of turbulence

We can all agree that the world has been in a period of turbulence over the past two years. As a leader in an organization, you must pause and breathe. Managers can unintentionally pass their stress onto other employees.

Do the research and prevent the spread of misinformation. Speak clearly and confidently to your teams and colleagues so that you appear to have control over the situation. Transparency will create trust and go a long way in calming the workforce.

Give specific next steps and create tangible action items. These tips can help stabilize a workforce in times of stress.

Fighting burnout

Let’s talk about the ever-elusive fight against burnout. It’s easy to understand that the outside stressors of everyday life during and after a pandemic paired with the daily stressors of work are enough to burn anyone out. More than 70% of employees reported feeling burnt out over the past year, according to Forbes.

It’s never been more critical than it is now to tackle feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion. The key to avoiding burnout is getting in front of it, as it is much easier to prevent burnout than reverse it.

Organizations can prevent burnout by :

  • fostering a mental health-friendly culture
  • providing a means of healthy expression of emotion
  • ensuring employees are taken care of, and ditching the traditional 9-5 workday

Disengaging from practices such as delegating an unmanageable workload, instilling inflexible schedules, giving unclear expectations and role clarity, setting unrealistic deadlines, and micromanaging will reduce burnout. 

While there have certainly been challenges presented with the rise of more remote employees, there are indeed benefits, one of which being the ability to ditch the age-old 9 – 5 workday.

However, for most non-desk workers, flexible hours are not an option, so encourage employees to take their lunch breaks and PTO time and work at the peak of their energy levels.

Turnover and letting employees go

Turnover tends to be a result of a poor approach to motivating today’s workforce. It’s no secret that the cost of turnover is high, estimated at 1.5 – 2 times an employee’s salary and $1,500 to $4,000 per hourly employee (builtin.com).

Therefore, organizations should actively avoid turnover by putting into place best practices and implementing a solid plan to tackle the above challenges.

Retaining top talent

With the cost of turnover being so high, retaining top talent and motivating today’s workforce is a priority. The key here is employee engagement, so ask questions to gain insight on employees to instill the correct development and training programs.

Weekly one-on-one meetings with department heads or managers are an excellent way to ask questions and get to know these individuals. Including all employees in the communication loop creates an atmosphere of teamwork and ensures that everyone’s efforts are appreciated.

Create on-the-job learning opportunities, whether significant or small. Vary learning experiences and provide insightful feedback that is constructive and accompanied by manageable action steps. 

Communicating effectively is essential to motivating today’s workforce.

Communicating effectively

Alas, to save the best for last! These challenges arguably have a common denominator – they’re a causal effect of poor communication. Therefore, effective communication could essentially eliminate or solve these challenges.

It seems simple, yet effective communication is complex and involves complex solutions. Everyone communicates differently. The good news is there are a plethora of companies specializing in making communications in the workforce easy.

According to Pew Research, 91% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 own a smartphone, making them far and away the most popular way to communicate. Due to this information, the most innovative and easiest way to reach employees and increase engagement would be to interact via the smartphone.

Employee engagement apps can simplify your workforce management system and workplace communication making it accessible for all employees, non-desk workers, remote and office workers alike. Some of these platforms include AI/ intuitive learning integration, which provides highly structured communications.

These communications give the right message to the right person at the right time, prevent spray and pray messaging, and the chaos and lack of usage that reply-all messaging creates.

Now that we understand the challenges, we’ll discuss how to motivate today’s workforce.

Motivating today's workforce
Red e App provides mobile engagement across your workforce.

What drives and can be motivating today’s workforce?

There are two types of motivator categories in your company culture, intrinsic and extrinsic. While extrinsic motivators such as bonuses, benefits, and other tangible rewards are essential, the focus must be intrinsic for a long-term impact on employee retention (i.e., your bottom line).

Challenging and Meaningful work 

Do your employees’ assignments coincide with their strengths, interests, and aspirations? Their work will take on more meaning when they know how it impacts people, customers, or managers. Ensure that work is challenging enough to keep employees stimulated.

A sense of Connectedness 

How do we connect the physically distant but digitally engaged as well as the digitally unconnected? This Connectedness goes back to effective communication.

Appreciation and Recognition

Recognition is the number one motivator (Kazoo.com). Everyone wants to know that they’re doing a good job and employees work harder when they feel appreciated.


Work relationships should be mutually beneficial. Employees need to feel that their managers have their best interest at heart and are getting as good as they’re giving. 

In conclusion, motivating today’s workforce requires effective communication, employee engagement and higher motivation. This is increasingly important when it comes to motivating today’s workforce with the rising numbers of remote and non-desk-hourly-employees. 

Sign up for a free trial of Red e App today to learn how our powerful tool will help you with motivating today’s workforce, address high turnover, increase employee retention and create an engaged workforce.

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Sarah Stukenborg is a Growth Specialist for Red e App. Before joining Red e App, she worked in the Senior Living Industry for four years, specializing in sales and marketing. Through this experience, she gained compassion for and understanding of what is motivating today’s workforce as well as the current everyday issues facing frontline workers in the healthcare industry, which drew her to the Red e App team, where she hopes to enrich the work lives of the non-desk workforce through the power of engagement.


  • https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/
  • https://www.kazoohr.com/resources/library/employee-motivators
  • https://www.bluebeyondconsulting.com/thought-leadership/6-best-practices-create-positive-employee-experience/
  • https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-to-reassure-your-team-when-the-news-is-scary
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/heidilynnekurter/2021/04/27/employers-here-are-4-ways-you-can-begin-to-effectively-tackle-employee-burnout/?sh=4d882d560099
  • https://builtin.com/recruiting/cost-of-turnover
  • https://hbr.org/2020/01/a-better-way-to-develop-and-retain-top-talent