Just how important is intrinsic employee motivation in today’s workplace? So much so that the Harvard Business Review claims that one extrinsically motivated employee can cost an organization $12,000 a year. Multiply that a few times, and you get the point!

That is why Demi Gray, a business executive and human resources specialist, has dedicated much of her career to studying what makes employees tick and motivates them to optimum performance. She recalls many of her experiences and offers key learning points in her book, The X Factor of Employee Engagement: Why Fostering Employee Motivation Should Be Every Company’s Goal.

The author believes her vantage point from an HR perch makes her imminently qualified on the subject. “Because HR leaders have been identified as being closer to employees than other executive leaders, they receive intimate details regarding employee perceptions and feedback,” she says. “This typically gives them an edge … when it comes to truly understanding what de-motivates, devalues and engages an employee.”


Gray takes readers through six key principles that she says can serve as a frame of reference for attaining employee motivation:

  • Leadership Influence. Someone once said leaders are born, not made, but Gray believes people can learn the skills needed to be effective leaders, giving them the ability to “change the narrative” as it pertains to culture, behaviors, perceptions, brand, reputation and values. They are in the best position to be consummate motivators.
  • Management Support. Leaders must be able to listen, provide resources and supporting technology, coach, train, set goals and follow up. Falling short can lead to frustration and de-motivation.
  • Applicable Resources. Put employees in the right role for their skill sets and provide the necessary tools for them to accomplish their tasks. 
  • Flexibility and Autonomy. Give team members the opportunity to work independently, especially in these days of virtual meetings and working from home. Beware of micromanagement.
  • Recognition. Sometimes it’s a simple “thank you,” but whatever the form, be very cognizant of the need for employees to feel valued and appreciated.
  • Proper Compensation. We learn quickly that money isn’t everything in the workplace. But it also isn’t nothing. More recent studies indicate a tighter correlation between money and motivation/job satisfaction.

The book goes into great detail on each topic, getting at the root of what motivates people and how leaders and managers can fuel that motivation.

Gray says she wrote the book for experienced, developing and aspiring leaders. “I’m a calculated individual, always thinking about cause and effect, playing situations, events and incidents out in my head,” she writes. “My experience, coupled with psychological principles and human behavior theories, provides so much to be shared with leaders who care about healthy workplace cultures, collaborative work environments, and committed team members.”

What could be more motivating than that?

Learn more about employee motivation in our recent Q&A with the author.

Buy this book!

About Demi Gray:

Demi Gray is a human resources and business executive who has worked in multiple industries including healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and fast-food logistics. She is the managing partner of Accelerate MD, serves on the board for AcceleratingME, and is a board advisor for various non-profit organizations. As a part of her pursuit, she has led talent management initiatives that have impacted more than 150,000 team members over the course of her career. She thrives off helping people flourish in their lives.