We recently polled our 12,500 Twitter followers to find out how they go from #SundayScaries to #MondayMotivation. In other words, we wanted to know what they dreaded the most about the week ahead—and just as importantly, why they were motivated to come into work anyway. Not surprisingly, 83% of those who responded to our poll claimed “workload overload” was scaring them. And when asked, “When are your Sunday Scaries at their peak?” 44% said at the onset of a “crazy week ahead,” at a higher rate than even before impending deadlines.

Stress—especially from work overload—leads to disengagement and decreased productivity at work. A Tower Watson survey found that 57% of employees who said they were very stressed at work felt less productive and disengaged, while only 10% of low-stress employees reported feeling this way. Whatever is scaring your employees— office drama, feeling undervalued, or workload overload—needs to be mitigated. Admittedly, reducing #SundayScaries is easier said than done. How can business leaders take on those stressors and anxiety-producing work issues and turn them into fodder for #MondayMotivation?

It turns out that the answer might be right in front of you. The same Twitter poll that identified the causes of anxiety for employees also uncovered the sources of motivation. We found that employees are motivated by their coworkers, passion for their work, company culture, and personal goals. According to a Hays survey, 47% of people who are actively looking for new jobs say finding a positive company culture is the main stimulus. Creating an engaging culture, collaborative teams, and work people can be passionate about may come down to how much you’re willing to invest in the individual employee experience. 

Creating an engaging culture, collaborative teams, and work people can be passionate about may come down to how much you’re willing to invest in the individual employee experience. @KJSchneiderman #SmartTalkHR @RiseSmart https://bit.ly/2JqrcTL

If you’re hoping to replace #SundayScaries with #MondayMotivation, here are four places to start:


Harvard Business Review reported six main reasons people work: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. The first three are positive motives, and research shows that companies that leverage these motives are better at inspiring employees long-term. In short, HBR defined “play” as when you are “motivated by the work itself; you work because you enjoy it.” Purpose is when the results you achieve fits your identity, or you work to meet some goal greater than yourself. Potential, according to the same HBR article, is “when the outcome of the work benefits your identity.”

When employers understand what’s motivating employees to not only accept a position with their company, but also to come to work and give it their all every day, it’s easy to see why motives matter. Most employees need to maintain the feeling they’re an important part of their organization and what they do matters for the greater company or even the world around them. One of the easiest ways to make people feel valued is to support them at every stage of the employee lifecycle, from recruiting to outplacement.  And as John Taylor recently wrote for the RiseSmart blog, corporate values play an important role in giving employees purpose. Savvy organizations should live and breathe corporate values that orient employees every step of the way.

One of the easiest ways to make people feel valued is to support them at every stage of the employee lifecycle, from recruiting to outplacement. @KJSchneiderman #SmartTalkHR @RiseSmart https://bit.ly/2JqrcTL

Managers can get a strong sense of the motives of team members through regular interactions with them. Individual motives explain why the employee was attracted to the company in the first place. Keeping this in mind, managers have a better understanding of what the employee experience should look like and help team members design professional development and work environments that will keep them motivated.


PwC found nearly 60% of employees would prefer feedback on a daily or weekly basis—72% of employees under the age of 30 say the same thing. Having informal and formal feedback loops set up ensures managers can provide a personalized, high-touch experience for individual employees.

Feedback is a part of the modern employee experience, according to Denise Lee Yohn, a contributor to Forbes. According to Yohn, the employee experience “involves designing and delivering distinctive experiences for employees that are aligned with your desired culture.”

In many leading companies today, company cultures are rooted in the ability to innovate and outpace the competition. Feedback is a crucial part of this equation because without it, employees are bound to lose their north star. Regular feedback helps employees to prioritize and align what they’re doing day-in and day-out with larger company goals. 


Only 23% of companies surveyed in the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends say they’re excellent in helping employees balance personal and professional life and work demands. Work life balance is crucial for not only keeping employees at your company long term—but also keeping them healthy and productive every day.

According to Healthline, working more actually prohibits productivity, and makes employees feel “blue” and tired during the day. When employees are working too much, they don’t (and often can’t) make time for personal relationships and the things they enjoy. Even if employees are acting like they’re okay with taking on extra work, it’s better to encourage a balanced approach so everyone gets the rest and rejuvenation they need to be at maximum productivity.


Whether you’re dealing with layoffs or poor management, ineffective work distribution tactics often lead to work overload – the cause of #SundayScaries for 83% of our Twitter followers. While poor work distribution often occurs in the normal course of business, in the case of layoffs, the problem is amplified as there are less employees to get the job done. If work overload wasn’t an issue before, a layoff can be the catalyst that tips the scale on work-life balance for remaining employees.

Although you won’t be able to completely eliminate the stress and anxiety of a layoff for your remaining employees, there are a few best practices that will help reduce the impact. Immediately following a layoff, it’s important to over-communicate with employees about any new expectations, especially with less people there to get the job done. While work distribution might seem like an operational problem, it has a profound impact on individual employees and their stress levels. Prioritizing tasks and adjusting goals at the individual, team, and corporate levels can take the pressure off and actually increase overall productivity.

We know employees are motivated by their team, their work, and company culture. Try taking an individualized, employee-first approach to culture. Your dedication to the individual employee experience will trickle down to the team and impact culture as a whole. Individual by individual, manager by manager, and team by team, where is your culture falling short?

In the case of a layoff or otherwise, remaining employees are irreplaceable. You must take care of the survivors and pay attention to what’s driving them to do their best work, or what’s distracting them from performing at their best. The key to going from #SundayScaries to #MondayMotivation is making the most of what you already have—your employees—by committing to invest in their individual experiences and well-being. 

26 April 2018

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