Employee Motivation

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Inspiring Employee Creativity

Digital technologies are making work increasingly thought-driven, not muscle-powered. In this environment, planning and execution are merely table stakes for leadership. Real leaders must inspire and reward employee ingenuity, and must be bold enough to move creativity from the organization’s periphery to its center. To do that, leaders need to adopt five personal behavior changes, including resisting the temptation to tell people what to do and embracing distributed leadership.

Retaining Today’s Young Managers

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It was 20 years ago that the movie “Jerry Maguire” created a mantra for our time: “Show me the money!” Today’s young professionals most definitely absorbed that message, but money’s not the only way to stop them from packing. A 2015 article from MIT Sloan Management Review explores strategies for retaining talented young managers who always have an eye on the job market and one foot creeping toward the door.

What High-Potential Young Managers Want

Today’s talented young professionals have a different approach to their careers — and a very different attitude toward organizational loyalty — than earlier generations. Although they may seem engaged and committed in their jobs, they nevertheless job hunt routinely and are not averse to job hopping. Those whose companies offer development practices such as training and mentoring job hunt less, and those who are given a high-stakes job show a higher commitment to the organization as well.

The 2015 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

This year’s winning article is “Combining Purpose With Profits,” by Julian Birkinshaw, Nicolai J. Foss, and Siegwart Lindenberg. The authors examine a familiar question for managers: How can the tension between purpose and profits be best managed? The article explores the kinds of structures companies need to pursue “pro-social” goals. The Beckhard Prize is awarded annually to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development.

Measuring the Benefits of Employee Engagement

It’s well known that employees’ attitudes toward the organization have a significant effect on how they approach their jobs and how they treat customers. But recent research suggests that high levels of employee engagement are also associated with higher rates of profitability growth. While the products and services many companies offer can appear quite similar on the surface, exceptional service can be a competitive advantage. “Although we recognize that the ultimate focus of most organizations is on customers,” write the authors, “companies can benefit from adding employee engagement to their list of priorities.”

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Bringing Fun and Creativity to Work

How do you inspire employees to become more motivated and perform better? By challenging them to test their creativity and collaboration skills through a team-based contest. “The contest provided a safe environment for participants to unleash their imaginations and form an emotional connection,” write the authors. “That, in turn, triggered an increased level of psychological ownership and positive feelings.“

Photo by Bengt Wanselius

Combining Purpose With Profits

It’s an old idea: If you want to build a company that truly motivates its employees, it has to have a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose that transcends making money can motivate employees. But to sustain both a sense of purpose and a solid level of profitability over time, companies need to pay attention to several fundamental organizing principles, including the need for support systems that reinforce goals.

Reinventing Employee Onboarding

Wipro BPO, a business process outsourcing firm in Bangalore, India, was experiencing high turnover rates. In Wipro’s traditional onboarding program, new employees learned about the company. But when the onboarding focused, instead, on individual identity, employees were more than 32% less likely to quit their jobs during the first six months. The bottom line: By making small investments in socialization practices, companies can improve employee retention.

Image courtesy of Sensacell Inc.

The Digital You at Work: What to Consider

Algorithms that measure influence and motivation are part of a new group of analytic tools — from pre-employment analytics to on-the-job assessments — that can help a company determine an employee’s value throughout her career.

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The Power of Moderation

Employees with deep motivation, strong commitment, unquestioned loyalty and widely shared values can have drawbacks. Much has been written about the upside of deep commitment, but employers need to be wary of workers who identify too much with the company. Overidentification, says the author, may lead to an ends-justifies-the-means outlook, unethical actions, substitution of personal needs for company goals and resentment when the company doesn’t meet employees’ expectations.

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