In our most recent blog “Large stakes and big mistakes” we discussed the surprising negative effect monetary rewards has on performance. We looked at an interesting study published in 2005 by The Federal Reserve Bank, which not only disproved the link between monetary reward and high performance; the findings in fact indicate it may even have a detrimental impact. So if monetary rewards are not the answer, what is?

The answer lies in the 1960’s with one of the great original thinkers in motivational theory, Frederick I Herzberg. Whilst you may not think it, Herzberg ‘Two Factor Theory’ which dates back longer than 50 years provides a truly unique insight into contemporary commerce.

The theory suggests employee satisfaction is influenced by 2 types of factors, Hygiene Factors and Motivation Factors.  It is believed that hygiene factors, such as pay, job security and working conditions, can cause dissatisfaction. Whilst motivation factors such as recognition, achievement, and growth can result in job satisfaction and increased productivity.

This suggests whilst it is important to look after factors such as pay, job security and working conditions; these factors are often seen as a given rather than a motivator. Therefore, to truly inspire employees and increase both job satisfaction and productivity we need to look at incentives through a more humanistic approach.

Taking influences from Herzberg’s theory, we have come up with a set of 3 key humanistic factors which are essential to employee motivation…

1. Recognition

To quote D. Carnegie, “People work for money but go that extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards”. Recognition is such a strong motivator because it provides employees with a sense of value and appreciation.

A simple way to incorporate recognition into your workplace culture is through a peer to peer recognition platform. Peer to peer recognition schemes have quickly become one of the top incentive programs across the UK. The main reason for its rapid success is it is relatively cheap, easy to develop, and it taps into our innate need to be accepted by our peers.

2. Innovation

Innovation encourages us to see the world through a new perspective. It promotes creativity, growth and change.  In fact it’s not only a strong motivator for an employee it’s a strong motivator for a company. Companies that encourage a culture of innovators are often the ones with a competitive advantage, better quality of service and are overall more successful.

3. Achievement

At its core, achievement is something that provides a sense of pride in our knowledge, our abilities and our self. It is this feeling of pride and self worth which motivates us to try harder and build on our goals. It could even be argued to be the most imperative employee motivator, as it has the ability to raise the standard of what is possible.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston: Large Stakes and Big Mistakes 
Humanistic Theories of Motivation