So how can businesses get it right? What can businesses do that betters simple financial bonuses in order to enhance motivation and increase productivity?
Focus on employees’ social needs
Managers need to focus on true leadership qualities and soft skills. They should speak to their employees and ask about their lives – this demonstrates that they care about them. The topic of conversation doesn’t need to be too personal – you might just want to talk about hobbies, sport, or the latest hit TV show. Employees want to be respected and feel like their manager cares not just about their career progression, or hitting targets, but that they are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. The power of social capital and its effects on workplace morale and productivity cannot be underestimated. Thus, businesses should focus on creating a culture that supports and cares about the social and emotional needs of employees.
Managers should welcome dissenting voices and opinions. Whilst not a tangible, traditional ‘reward’, valuing dissent demonstrates a respect for others and a humility that is often lacking in managers and company leaders.
Leaders in an organisation who always agree with one another should be challenged in order to try and bring out fresh concepts and views. Mangers should always seek out different opinions, including from different departments and subordinates. Instead of shutting themselves off from the rank-and-file, leaders should be absorbing the differing opinions that can be found across the length and breadth of a company; fostering an inclusive culture that rewards new ideas and diverse thoughts.
Set cooperative goals
Managers should create challenging and specific cooperative goals in order to smash silos, motivate teams, and bring employees together.
The ‘silo effect’ is where teams and departments operate independently from one another and have little-to-no collaboration. This creates a ‘them vs us’ culture and is the enemy of innovation and – consequently – effective motivation. Managers should set superordinate goals, as research suggests that it is an effective method to enhance motivation in employees.
Giving employees the autonomy to pursue their own projects fosters passion, creativity, and productivity.
The crux of an autonomous workplace is trust. Managers need to trust their employees to get things done; to trust that they are efficient in managing their time and have the company’s best interests at heart.
Such autonomy is the norm at tech behemoths like Google – Googlers allocate 20% of their time to pursuing their own innovations. Products such as Gmail and Google News were born from this initiative.
Having an autonomous workplace is just one important part of creating a compelling suite of intangible benefits – something which transcends mere financial bonuses that evidence suggests can be counterproductive to fostering engaged and pioneering employees.