Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Making Progress in Meaningful Work

Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, confirm it: employees are most motivated, engaged and productive when they make progress in meaningful work.

This isn't as obvious as it sounds. Many organizations understand the importance of having a happy, engaged workforce. However, the means of creating such a workforce often center on issues of compensation, satisfaction, recognition and reward. Often these are just "table stakes" in hiring and keeping employees. Increasing compensation and bonuses, implementing wellness programs and introducing recognition schemes can result in short term blips in engagement and productivity due to the well-known Hawthorne Effect where employees respond positively to positive attention.

Amabile and Kramer found, as have numerous other researchers, that progress in meaningful work is by far the most significant indicator of satisfaction and engagement. It is also the most significant driver of creativity and productivity.

Implications for organizations are:

  • Focus on drawing a connection between the employee's work and it's value to the employee's colleagues, customers and community
  • Provide frequent feedback on progress
  • When things are off-track the leader's focus should be on clarifying goals, coaching competence, removing barriers and facilitating problem solving 
  • Recognition programs designed to make employees happy through poster and balloon campaigns are empty and unfulfilling 

No comments:

Post a Comment