We all go through times at work where our motivation levels vaporize quickly, and our enthusiasm and energy is rubbed out. Unswerving motivation at work, at every turn, is not realistic. I know personally my motivational levels rise and fall a lot like ocean tides, and that’s due to internal and external forces.
Yet if you’re lucky to work within a company culture that provides healthy, supportive conditions, most people’s drive can quickly replenish and bounce back. Positive company culture is a force which affects employee motivation, performance and sequentially drives revenue. There is an abundance of data supporting this fact.
MIT Sloan conducted some in-depth research on the cultural values that lead to higher performing motivated employees and profitability. The top cultural values that enable companies to thrive in a dynamic market are:
Money and what else drives employees at work?
The 1980s were so much more than just crazy hair and fresh music. Two psychologists also discovered six main reasons why we humans work besides money. In an article posted on HBR, two authors based their work on the self-determination theory of motivation. Opportunely they modernized and adapted it for the modern workplace. The six main reasons people work include play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. They concluded that the reasons why people work would decide how well they worked.
The first three reasons increase performance, but the last three hurt performance. They discovered companies famous for a consistent extraordinary culture like Trader Joes and South West Airlines maximize the strong motives and minimize the weak ones.
What does play, purpose and potential show up like in employees?
Shows up in individuals when they feel motivated by the work they do.
When these individuals are in the flow of work, they experience a sensation of sharpness, satisfaction and joy.
When problems emerge at work, these characters exercise their curiosity, they enjoy challenges and turn them into opportunities to learn using investigation and experimental thinking.
Play as a motivating factor to go to work is also tied to the top cultural values, which include: innovation, collaboration, execution, agility and experimentation. If you are fortunate to have these individuals on your team, they will find fun in the day to day tasks and re-imagine how work can be improved. They often gamify work tasks as a way to motivate themselves and others.
Is when people feel their work has meaning and what they do makes a difference or is useful to others. Individuals that are motivated by purpose take away personal fulfilment from their work. When there is a clear relationship between what people do daily at work and what they value the most they find purpose. An example of this is a child healthcare worker. They value improving the health of children in the community. They find meaning in their role if their company values mirror their values and their day to day tasks correlate with it.
The topmost cultural values of thriving companies include high integrity and respect. These two values complement and sustain individuals who are motivated by purpose.
Is where the results of the work positively affect an employee’s identity. A person who is motivated by potential understands that their work will enable them to flourish.
Within their role, they can grow, learn and advance to reach their personal best. A person who is driven by potential may work as a Healthcare Administrative Assistant in operations but recognize they can progress to an executive of operations. The possibility of progress drives them.
The other three motives are labelled indirect reasons to work, and they have a negative result on motivation.
These other three motivations hurt performance
So, we’ve covered motivations that increase performance, play, purpose and passion, but what about the other three. As mentioned, they are labelled indirect reasons why we work. They include inertia, emotional pressure and economic pressure. You don’t have to be a genius to work out these produce a negative result on motivation. So let’s dive in to understand how these show up at work.
Inertia is the state of stuck. These individuals typically walk into work but without reason. To all intent and purpose, they have quit and yet stay. If you asked them, “Why do you work and what do you get out of it?”. Typically their reply isn’t going to resemble Nelson Mandella speech. They left behind the meaning of work long ago. These employees do just enough work to get by, but they can’t explain the ‘why. ‘If the work has any meaning, it lost its appeal long ago.
This motive is where people stay in a role even if they despise it to avoid disappointing others (parents, peers). They fear the guilt and shame and the judgement of others if they ever changed careers. So they stay. They also believe in the sunk cost theory of investing time money, effort and ego. All this and emotional pressure keeps them in a role even if they loathe it.
It’s pretty evident if money is the only reason a person is working, their performance will decline. When people work only to gain a monetary reward or work out of fear that they can’t get another job, their overall work performance suffers.
Company culture is like gravity
However, it would be negligent not to mention the importance that company culture plays in motivating teams. The blend of a robust company culture with employees that have equally strong internal motivators is a winning formula.
“Strong company culture is like the force of gravity. It draws people towards its centre and holds all the business strategies in perfect orbit. Without gravity, people and strategy start to fly off in all directions, and that’s what happens in weak company culture”
How to maximize play, purpose and potential using an Intranet solution?
Once you are clear on your company values, and you’ve done some solid work with your teams, you can also increase play, purpose and potential using an Intranet solution to boost employee performance?
So let’s dive into how you best use play, purpose and potential using an Intranet solution.
Way #1 - Play
Inspire - you can inspire your teams with a sense of play by allowing them to post weekly work challenges and voting the top performer or problem solver.
Contribute to a retro board after each work sprint or job - teams can post comments to a retrospective page so together they can reflect on what worked well, what could be improved and what they will commit to for the next initiative. Again this is all about play and innovating on how to improve the everyday work routine.
The American Management Association recommends adopting a company-wide philosophy that “there are no bad ideas, only undeveloped ones.” Create an idea wall forum where people can post ideas on their team page but also centrally to the company. Have people vote the best ideas and implement them as prototypes into your processes.
Mobile App - deskless workers and remote workers can share photos on-site and suggest how things can be improved, which encourages people to improve existing processes and become curious.
Tasks can be gamified an Intranet solution app like CentricMinds can present tasks to people on the road or remotely so they can see how many jobs they completed for the day and improve upon their previous score.
Way #2 - Purpose
Using an Intranet solution tool gives you the freedom and capability to tell and share the ‘why’ behind the work of your team and company. You can bring company stories to life through video, images, interviews and create engagement by asking employees for feedback.
Even teams can get involved and share what they value most on their team page. This activity helps to remind people why they come to work. When employees can imagine the outcome of their daily work, they find more meaning in doing them.
Communication is a significant factor in creating purpose. People expect to know what’s going on and how their role helps the team, company, customer and the broader community.
Using digital tools, you can keep the conversation rolling amongst teams. Share new initiatives and individual achievements and publicize the value it creates for others.
Welcome new hires - provide them with clarity about the company purpose. The more you can give new hires about their role within the company and across teams, the more motivated they will be. An Intranet solution tool opens up the opportunity to do this by giving them role clarity, knowledge of the culture, and welcoming them into social activities and daily work posts and welcome message. Giving them access to onboarding material like employee guidebooks, checklists, slide decks and processes they need for their first day sets them up for success.
Way #3 - Potential
Using a digital workspace solution, you can incorporate the motive of potential. Share and highlight career advancement opportunities across the business as well as provisioning onboarding.
Recognition is powerful. When people feel recognized, it lifts their potential along with their motivation. With an Intranet solution tool, people can share and build community and expert knowledge by posting wikis and promoting their achievements throughout the organization.
When people feel that they can reach their potential in the workplace, they feel more motivated and driven. Many companies are implementing policies that offer employees flexible work conditions. A recent study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business demonstrated when employees could work outside the office, they became more productive. It also led to increased employee retention. A mobile workplace app gives your employees the tools to achieve the freedom to access tasks, provide feedback and locate files and work information on their phone, so they can be their best.
Encouraging the three elements of play, purpose and potential and pairing them to your cultural norms, values and behaviors will give you a head start to a more engaged workplace. Using the right Intranet solution tool will open up the lines of your communication and influence the attitudes and assumptions of your teams. Ultimately it will connect people with ‘why they go to work each day’. There is no denying it culture plays a vital role in shoring up and maintaining and elevating morale even when you’re staring down the barrel of massive business and economic headwinds.
“As Peter Drucker said: Culture eats strategy for breakfast”