The need to recognise and reward the contribution of employees, especially where this pertains to their retention, has resulted in many leaders focusing on motivation as a key factor to improve engagement and retention.

Although this is positive, we need to recognise that motivation is something ‘individual’ and ‘internal’. It is a human need / desire (motive) that causes a person to act or strive to achieve a certain goal. We cannot therefore assume that motivating people is something simple that will always be achieved by applying an ‘external’ reward model.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to what will motivate someone, and what will give them a sense of satisfaction. Without going too much into the theory, it seems that HR and executives are more focused on the factors that lead to satisfaction, because these appear to drive the required behaviours to achieve certain goals. As such, more attention is being given to doing things that will prevent people from feeling discouraged.

In an effort to increase levels of motivation and engagement of their employees, companies have been reviewing their reward and recognition systems, which includes rethinking their whole talent management system.

In a business context, it is easier to identify what causes dissatisfaction, and what may compromise expected outcomes, rather than try to eliminate all problems. Potential problems could include the work environment or climate, and the relationship the employee has with the leaders of the organisation (especially their immediate manager), as it is the leader who determines priorities, sets objectives connected to business strategy, gives feedback on performance, provides resources, and guides the development of people.

To maximise job satisfaction, it is essential that every employee:

  • Knows what is expected of them, and how their contribution fits into the broader organisation
  • Has the capability and other resources to do their job
  • Gets feedback on and understands how they are performing

These are 3 responsibilities that a leader has when it comes to their direct reports, which cannot be delegated.

At Bioss, we believe that people give their best and are most productive when they are in a state called Flow (1).This occurs when their capability is fully utilised, and their potential translates into results. Being in a state of flow is motivating as it represents a ‘spontaneous movement’ of the person, who directs their energy towards a professional project underpinned by their own needs. To enable people to achieve a state of flow, leaders need to identify the capability of their employees and place them in the right roles, at the right time. When this is achieved, the company also moves into a state of flow, which leads to optimal use of people, assets and other resources. The end result is capable employees, lower staff turnover, and better returns for shareholders. That means people and organisations are thriving.

1) Flow Theory by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Written by Willian Bull 

Instituto Pieron (Bioss Brazil)

The original version of this post can be found here.  (O Flow nosso de cada dia! – INSTITUTO PIERON)