What motivates people to work?
The obvious answer is a paycheck. People work because they need money to
feed, clothe, and house themselves and their families. In years past, the way
companies got people to work harder was to offer them more money. But today's
flat organizations offer less opportunity for raises and promotions. And today's
workers respond to different motivational tools.
A professor at the University of Massachusetts surveyed people on whether
they'd work if they had inherited enough money to live comfortably. Eight out of
ten said yes. Billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill Gates throw themselves into
their jobs as if their next meal depended on it, but that's obviously not the
case. Clearly, a paycheck is not the only reason people work.
What Do Workers Value?
So what are the best motivators? The Challenger Outplacement Council asked
recently discharged managers that question. The replies, ranked by frequency of
- Recognition and appreciation.
- Independence and status.
- The chance to contribute to company goals.
Industry Week surveyed its readers on the question, "What is
the biggest long-term motivator for you?" The results were different, but
money didn't take the number one spot here, either.
- Working for a leader with vision and values.
- Pay raises and bonuses.
- Being given greater responsibility.
- Developing the respect of subordinates and peers.
- Recognition from supervisors.
Creating the Right Atmosphere
Leaders who want their employees to work hard should:
Demonstrate that they are worthy of respect by acting with
personal integrity. Consistency and dependability are important.
Involve workers in defining problems, solving problems, and making
decisions. Social psychology studies show that if you can get people involved in
a collaborative process, their level of commitment to that process will
Provide on-going learning and skill improvement opportunities.
Discovering new and better ways to do things can ignite an employee's desire to
Establish conditions under which collaboration occurs easily and
naturally. Camaraderie and teamwork create a sense of community for the
individuals involved and may make them feel like contributors--a significant
Respond to each individual's needs. Show concern. Demonstrate an
alignment between personal and organizational goals. Explain how workers can
profit individually, while benefiting the organization at the same time.
Create an environment of mutual trust and respect. The first step to
doing this is to follow the Golden Rule and treat your employees as you would
like to be treated.
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