It should come as no surprise that money is a pretty powerful motivator for workers, but an article by researchers at Harvard Business School says it takes more than cash to keep employees happy and productive.
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The article suggests that managers spend too much time trying to figure out how to motivate employees — something most workers are perfectly capable of doing themselves. Instead, team leaders need to get out of the way and stop de-motivating employees with mindless policies and poor management strategies.
The authors say people have three main goals at work: 1) to be treated with respect and equity, 2) to take pride in a job well done, and 3) to have good relationships with fellow employees. If even one of these factors are missing, workers are three times as likely to be unhappy at work. Surprisingly, not even a better paycheck will make up for the loss of one of the three biggest motivators.
Inane company policies and procedures often do the most damage to employee motivation, and there’s often little middle managers can do about it:
Satisfying the three goals depends both on organizational policies and on the everyday practices of individual managers. If the company has a solid approach to talent management, a bad manager can undermine it in his unit. On the flip side, smart and empathetic managers can overcome a great deal of corporate mismanagement while creating enthusiasm and commitment within their units. While individual managers can’t control all leadership decisions, they can still have a profound influence on employee motivation.
The most important thing is to provide employees with a sense of security, one in which they do not fear that their jobs will be in jeopardy if their performance is not perfect and one in which layoffs are considered an extreme last resort, not just another option for dealing with hard times.
Check out the article for a list of ways managers can help workers achieve their goals, feel a sense of pride in their work, and build camaraderie with fellow workers. What keeps you motivated at work? Is it the companionship of your colleagues, cold, hard, cash, or something else? Share what revs your motivational motor in the comments.
Why Your Employees Are Losing Motivation [Harvard Business School]