“I am going to quit, I can’t take it anymore!” Rosy confides in her coworker as she tackles a difficult week at work. It’s not the first time that Rosy has thought about quitting. Although her coworkers are cordial, the office space is the perfect environment and human resources often host team-building exercises and games, something doesn’t feel right. There seems to be enough motivation at the workplace, but Rosy’s morale is low.

There exists a key difference between motivation and morale. If you want to know why Rosy, despite all the motivating factors in her professional life, is unhappy at work, read on.

Morale And Motivation: Don’t Confuse The Two

Many of us tend to use morale and motivation interchangeably. While both are instrumental in building a positive and productive work environment, there are key differences between the two. Let’s look at what employee morale and motivation mean before we get to the distinction.


Morale is a feeling or a psychological state in which a person’s attitude, satisfaction level and outlook depend on their overall environment. Emotions play an integral part in influencing your morale. People with high morale tend to be enthusiastic, innovative, and passionate about their work. They take initiative and contribute to creating a highly encouraging workplace culture. At the other end of the spectrum lies low morale that negatively impacts professional relationships and job satisfaction. If you want to boost employee morale, you need to ensure the following factors:

  • Proper conflict management

  • Promote a sense of belonging

  • Healthy and safe work environment

  • Better understanding of the organization’s goals and expectations

  • Effective communication (including feedback loops)


Motivation refers to the state of mind when you feel the need to do something in order to achieve positive outcomes. In short, it’s the spark within us that pushes us to do better or achieve something with greater efficiency. For example, when you find meaning and purpose in what you do, you’re motivated to meet your end-goals. Both intrinsic factors (encouragement) and extrinsic factors (healthy competition) contribute to positive motivation. On the other hand, when you’re afraid to pursue something, your behavior is influenced by negative motivation. Managers and team leaders can motivate people by:

  • Monetary incentives (salary and perks)

  • Non-monetary incentives (awards and recognition)

The Difference Between Motivation And Morale

Although morale and motivation go hand-in-hand, there are fundamental differences between the two.  Here is a simple comparison chart that’ll help you distinguish them.


What Is It?

Psychological drive

Social-emotional association

What Does It Entail?

Refers to the reasons that influence your behavior

Refers to the emotions you experience at a given point

How Does It Function?

At an individual level—associated with personal performance

At a group level—associated with the workplace setting


High motivation leads to higher productivity

High morale doesn’t necessarily improve productivity


Primary concern of an organization

Secondary concern of an organization


Helps boost morale

Influences motivation levels

As you can see, the difference between motivation and morale is tricky to navigate. Organizations need to maintain a delicate balance between both to promote employee engagement and job satisfaction. It’s no secret that individuals become more productive and deliver high-quality work when they feel committed to their work. The onus is on managers and team leaders to provide the right direction, guidance and support.

Navigating The Relationship Between Motivation And Morale

There is no secret formula to motivating employees and boosting their morale. However, there are a number of things you can try out to incentivize them and enhance their commitment:

  • Encourage Risk-Taking:

Try to create a culture where employees feel safe and confident to voice their perspectives. This will help avoid echo chambers and you may come across innovative ideas and strategies. Let your team experiment and find new ways of executing decisions.

  • Use Reward Systems: 

In addition to feedback and constructive criticism, celebrate the wins. For example, if someone delivers a project ahead of time, take time to acknowledge and appreciate their effort. Bonuses and perks are effective motivators.

  • Individual Goal-Setting:

In addition to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help employees set individual goals that are aligned with the larger goals of the organization. Have individual meetings with your team members to set their goals and gauge what their needs and expectations are.

Harappa Education’s Managing Teamwork course will equip you with powerful tools and frameworks to embrace team culture and collaborate with people more effectively. This team development course will teach you everything about team development and growth. With the help of the Skill-Will Matrix and the Social Styles Model, you’ll understand what motivates people and learn to navigate different working styles.

Explore topics such as What is TeamworkMotivation in Organizational Behavior & Easy Ways to Boost Your Career from Harappa Diaries to increase your productivity at work.

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