‘What happens on a Great Workday?” is the question Teresa Amabile
and her colleagues at Harvard Business School asked hundreds of
knowledge workers across a variety of industries as part of a multi-
year study. Their aim was to find out what really motivates workers.
The results were surprising. According to their findings, employee
emotions are most positive and their drive to succeed is at its peak on
days when they simply made progress. The days when they felt they
were making headway in their jobs, or when they received support that
helped them overcome obstacles were the days when they felt on
top of their game.
A McKinsey survey, on the other hand, says the key motivators are
praise from immediate managers, one-on-one conversations with
leaders and the chance to lead projects and task-forces.
Whichever you believe to be correct, there’s a common theme
throughout all these motivators – none of them are financial and none
of them directly cost the company money.
Therefore it’s reasonable to say they lie in the control of the line
managers and HR department because they are strategies that don’t
need to be run past and analysed by the financial department. If such
strategies are implemented well, however, the HR department might
find they’ll be soon thanked by the finance department.
Turnover in many companies is set to rise as the economy rebounds
and if money is still tight, HR departments might want to advise the
CEO, board and line managers to take heed of what policies might
save a mass departure of good people.
Editorial note Issue 193: As always, comments, contributions and feedback
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