Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist (now that is a new one for me), studied what motivates people at work. What he found is that in our ‘knowledge economy’, vs the economy born of the industrial revolution, workers are more productive and willing to work harder if they are able to see a project all the way through, rather than just screwing the same nut onto the same bolt over and over again on an assembly line. No longer is a paycheck enough to satisfy most workers. Meaning, creativity and ownership are also part of the mix that motivates ‘knowledge’ workers. This takes me back to when I graduated from college. I spent the first 10 years of my career in small architectural offices for the explicit reason that I would have the opportunity to work all phases of my projects just because teams, and often projects, were smaller. And each of the team member’s contributions were larger. Whereas I had a friend who went straight to one of the very large architectural firms and spent a year developing bathroom fixture schedules for a very large building project. She only lasted that first year before moving to a smaller firm.
If you are hiring employees, or are seeking a job, here are some things to keep in mind. A workplace where you can be happy and productive requires a cultural shift away from the motivation=money paradigm. There is more than just money required to create a positive work environment and therefore happy employees.
- Seeing the fruits of our labor can make us more productive.
- The less appreciated we feel, the more money we want.
- The more difficult a project is to create, the prouder we feel of it.
- Knowing that our work helps others contributes to our unconscious motivation.
- The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules.
- Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance.
- Images that trigger positive emotions may help us focus.
So, apparently the ‘blame and shame’ management style that seems awfully prevalent out there isn’t very productive. Take a note, bosses! And watch the video. Your employees may stay around longer.
Happy nearly Friday,