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Motivation in workplaces today isn’t reaching dizzying heights. On that point, the quiet quitters would certainly agree.

Americans are less motivated at work this year compared to last, data from the ADP Research Institute has revealed, with employee engagement at is lowest level in more than a year and a majority of workers not highly engaged, harming productivity.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that, at the same time, there’s a tendency to generalize the needs of the workforce: gen Z is fickle, disloyal and wants total autonomy, millennials want to work only from home, anti-tech boomers are clamoring to get back to the office five days a week. You get the idea. Stereotypes are prevalent; they’re also damaging.

Of course the working needs of an entire generation cannot be so easily distilled. One 39-year-old is not the same as the next 39-year-old. While there will be some commonalities within age groups, there will be more variation. So, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy cannot possibly be helpful when it comes to solving the employee motivation puzzle.

Personality types have a bearing, too, and they defy age brackets. While some people may thrive on rigid structures, respond well to hard deadlines and appreciate a clear hierarchy, others will crave unfettered freedom and will happily push themselves. Some of us have a thirst for learning, others thrive off praise from peers, or smashing targets, or promotion. So, helping demotivated employees requires a personal touch.

Alastair Hazell, a financial specialist, coach, and personal finance expert who started The Calculator Site, a suite of financial calculators, recalls: “One of our brightest analysts was on a downward spiral. Her demotivation was more intrinsic, linked to the feeling that her work was repetitive despite its obvious importance. The ‘been there, done that’ syndrome was in full swing.

Hazell encouraged his colleague to embrace a new perspective and to see her tasks as pieces of a giant puzzle, with every piece crucial, and every input shaping the financial landscape. Her role was also tweaked slightly, introducing her to client-facing scenarios to put faces to the numbers she crunched daily.

It worked. Why? Hazell explains: “Because all you need is a fresh lens. When she met clients and witnessed her work’s impact, it breathed life into her daily tasks. Not only did she become the person clients asked for by name, but she reignited her passion for her role, demonstrating that motivation isn’t always an external reward but sometimes an internal realization.”

But what if demotivation was commonly prevented rather than fixed? Employers who feel they’re too often troubleshooting instead of making sure already-inspired people stay that way may be interested to learn that some experts think customer strategy ought to be applied to employee motivation.

Nicole Bearne, an internal communications and employee experience consultant at The Comms Exchange, says it’s time that companies, who’ve spent decades honing their customer experience to improve satisfaction and build loyalty, apply some of that expertise to enhancing the employee experience.

Bearne says segmentation analysis–a technique popular with companies wanting to better understand and target who they’re selling to–is a good place to start to recognize that employees are unique individuals who bring their experiences, key characteristics and motivations to work.

It works by dividing a company’s workforce four ways, first by psychographic segmentation, which is based on employee interests, values and personality. Managers can figure out employee values from psychometric testing, surveys or one-to-one interviews. Personality tools like the Big Five Inventory, a self-report scale used to measure the big five personality traits–openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism–can be used during the hiring process or in performance evaluations.

Bearne cautions that personality traits are not absolute, however, adding: “Research suggests that they usually exist on a spectrum. Tests may also provide less reliable results outside of the Western, industrialized countries where they were developed.”

Companies should also segment demographically, grouping employees according to shared characteristics, such as gender, age, marital status, educational level, occupation and salary, and geographically, according to location, including language. Of course, unlike the aforementioned generational stereotypes, these are not looked at in isolation.

Companies should also consider needs-based segmentation, which recognizes that some employees may have requirements like accessibility, or flexible working policies to support childcare or education, that organizations can help with.

In the same way that marketing teams personalize content that speaks to customers’ pain points and inspire purchases, employers can use these findings to create personalized and curated working arrangements that resonate and support their people.

Bearne explains: “This can lead to higher retention rates, lower turnover costs and a more motivated workforce. By understanding these individual differences, HR and management can customize their strategies to improve employee engagement and satisfaction, ultimately improving organizational performance.”

And, looking to the future, AI could also help with some of the heavy lifting. “Generative AI will be able to instantly retrieve and analyze the data a company holds on its employees,” says Bearne. This could help managers and HR professionals to predict motivation more accurately or resolve performance issues, or offer personalized training requirements and career development goals.

While customer insight becomes ever more data-led, employee motivation has proved harder to pin down. But with employees critical to service and sales, could it be time employers started taking it as seriously as–and borrowing learnings from–their customer strategy?