3 Tips to Motivate Employees Beyond MoneyPosted on December 7, 2011

Motivating and compensating employees is a challenge faced by every business owner, manager, HR department, and talent developer the world over. Faced with this new information economy where we are constantly ‘wired in’, engagement of top talent is more highly competed for than ever. Recruiting then retaining top talent is vital to the long term success of a company.

While recruitment is focused on the now and retention is the long term problem, the attraction and retention often overlap when compensation is discussed.  Compensation is often in the form of money. And money is a motivator to be sure, but only so far as when it ceases to be an issue. Once you pay or incentive your people with enough money they are not worried about it, money as a motivator comes off the table. How can this be?

In a speech to the RSA, Dan Pink presents compelling research performed repeatedly by top economists from such places as MIT and University of Chicago. The studies overwhelmingly suggest, as a task gets more complicated, i.e. since it requires a greater cognitive ability than a simple physical task monetary motivators cease to work. To put this a different way, as work requires some conceptual creative thinking, money ceases to be the primary motivator. Really?

Yes. In fact, the research suggests when people are offered higher monetary rewards for performing cognitive tasks they overwhelming fail the challenges. Higher incentives leads to worse performance. Now, think about the positions in your company and how you compensate. How many require pure physical labor?

Again, money is a motivator, however when performing cognitive tasks in the new economy the major motivators start to become centered around better performance and personal satisfaction. Mr. Pink suggests 3 key ways this manifests itself, in the form of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

1. Autonomy – Autonomy is described by Mr. Pink as self direction and engagement. Empowering employes can foster self direction and create a staff of problem solvers. There are many ways businesses can foster autonomy but Flex Schedules and Working From Home have been shown as successful programs.

2. Mastery – Mastery, the desire to get better. We as humans desire to get better at tasks simply because that mastery of knowledge is satisfying. This often times takes the direction of emphasizing a diverse skill set and allowing creative and talented people to explore their various strengths. Continuing education and advanced trainings ensure employees are not only increasing their mastery, but the company knowledge base as well.

3.Purpose – “When profit motive gets unmoored from purpose motive bad things happen” Providing employees with purpose motive beyond profit motive ensures better engaged employees. All organizations have an overwhelming purpose beyond profit, now that might have been lost over time, but creating and following a Mission and Vision ensures  motives do not get unmoored, and not only the employees but the organization have an overarching purpose.

If you are interested in learning more take 10 minutes out of your day to watch Dan Pink’s speech on YouTube.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc]

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