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Employee Motivation: making your own “always on it” employees

Talya Zwiers | January 17, 2019

Employee with three idea bubbles

Is it possible to have a workforce who always want to go above and beyond? Do those star employees who are always motivated really exist? If they do, how can you find them – is it pure recruiting luck of the draw or something more tangible? When employees feel motivated, passionate and looked after, they are willing to put in the extra effort as they believe in the company and what it does, they thrive within the corporate culture and are proud to be a part of the business. For some HR professionals striving to master employee motivation in their teams, it may often seem impossible to have full control of this employee facet as it’s a non-tangible, hard to attain emotive feeling, and thus this notion may appear hard to pin down and formalise.

Motivation is an intrinsic drive that propels people to take certain decisions and actions? There are a plethora of factors which can influence motivation on a daily basis including emotional, physical, social and intellectual elements. Some of which these are controllable and easily manipulatable and this is where companies should be focusing their time and efforts in order to build and lift employee motivation. Bring out the best in your team, make a concerted effort to be more respectful across the board, encourage autonomy, ensure there are growth opportunities and all feedback is taken into account.

Dan Pink, former speechwriter for Al Gore and now career analyst, is starting a revolution in workplaces where he believes we should rethink how we run our businesses. He suggests that intrinsic motivation is the approach companies should be focusing on, as per his TED talk on The Puzzle of Motivation, instead of solely focusing on incentives – the traditional carrot-stick mentality.

An interesting example to back the importance of motivation is Karl Duncker’s Candle Problem. The Candle Problem is a cognitive physiological performance experiment developed in 1935. In short, a person is brought into a room and given a candle, a box of thumbtacks and matches and asked to attach the candle to the wall so that the wax will not drop onto the table. This test is used to learn about incentives, rewards and out of the box thinking. Two groups of people are offered the problem, the first group is timed, whereas the second group was offered a reward for coming up with the solution. It took the second group three and a half minutes longer to solve the problem. Pink suggests that these findings indicate that incentives and rewards actually dull lateral thinking and block creativity. Further to this, another experiment was carried out where the thumbtacks were taken out of the box, and the incentivised group did much better as the problem to solve was clear cut and easy. For these straightforward tasks where the goal is right in front of you, rewards and incentives work very effectively.

Business thinking over the years has always promoted that if you want better performance, you should reward with bonuses, commission structures and incentives. Pink suggests that rewards may narrow an employee’s focus and restrict their possibilities especially as most businesses today are doing a lot more work / problem solving like the first group of respondents. Showing employees that you want to go beyond paying them just a salary at the end of the month will motivate them. Perks that look after their work-life balance and (their) holistic wellbeing (of employees are always a bonus) such as discounted gym memberships, theatre tickets, shopping vouchers and more, are always a bonus.

This modern thinking model suggests that businesses should focus on intrinsic motivation and give attention to autonomy (where employees are urged to direct their own stuff), mastery (employees should use their desire to get better and better at tasks at hand) and purpose (employees should want to do things as part of a great whole). Let your team feel motivated by encouraging a work-life balance where they are granted autonomy and flexibility. Show your teams your trust them to get their work complete and don’t clock watch 9-5. Another key motivator for teams is to show that you respect them, their skills and experience. Don’t micromanage everything – let them know you’re confident with them and they will be motivated to work harder and smarter.

Xexec is a leading Employee Benefits provider which believes in employee engagement and motivation. By offering over 3,000 employee perks and discounts, Xexec aims to motivate teams and increase productivity and boost morale. If you’d like to find out more about how Xexec can motivate your teams, speak to one of our Employee Benefits and get a demo.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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