Research on employee performance suggests that people perform better when they are engaged and motivated.
In modern workplaces where creativity and innovation are imperative to performance, there is now strong evidence to suggest that intrinsic motivation is actually the key to driving high levels of engagement.
Author of five New York Times bestsellers, David Pink cites a body of behavioural science research suggesting that optimal performance comes when people find intrinsic meaning in their work. Pink identifies three elements underlying such intrinsic motivation: autonomy; mastery and purpose.
Our HR Advisor, Cynthia sits down and talks us through what she has learnt from Pink’s philosophy and how we integrate these principles within Schlam. Cynthia reflects on Pink’s first principle – Autonomy.
Autonomy is the need for people to direct their own life and work. In the workplace, this can translate to conditions where people are trusted and encouraged to take ownership of their own work and skill development.
We are seeing more aspects of this in modern workplaces where employees have flexibility in their work arrangements such as; working from-home options, work hours, hybrid work options, etc. Employees are therefore able to work when they feel they would be most productive and also balance their work, family and life commitments. As a family-first business, Schlam not only recognises the importance of work-life balance, but also promotes it in its ideology.
Some workplaces are also recognising employees’ strengths and giving them the opportunity to work on passion projects that might not necessarily be within their current role. At Schlam, it’s not unusual to find coworkers collaborating on projects of interest, despite them not falling within their normal scope of work.
In his second element, Pink describes mastery as the desire to improve. Often, people get job satisfaction when a challenge is met with mastery. A sense of progress, not just in our work, but our capabilities, contributes to our inner drive.
Assigning employees ‘goldilocks tasks’ – that are not too easy nor too hard, with space and support to reach a little higher gradually fosters improvement, continual mastery, and growth. What this requires of employers is more attention to how employees are doing and feeling about their tasks.
Organisations that provide opportunities for their employees to get better at things they are passionate about have more intrinsically motivated employees. Also, who can forget what Richard Branson famously quotes “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to”.
Having a ‘North Star’ to aim for and working towards something we believe is worthwhile will also drive intrinsic motivation.
Pink explains that it’s connecting to a cause larger than yourself that drives the deepest motivation. ‘Purpose’ is what gets you out of bed in the morning and into work without groaning and grumbling.
Lee-Anne, Schlam’s new Payroll Coordinator explains how happy she is that she will be able to make a big improvement to Schlam employees’ customer experience in her role.
Lee-Anne recently said “I am still very excited to be at Schlam” with a skip in her step.
This could very well be because of the key role she will be playing in streamlining the payroll processes.
People can be inspired to meet stretch goals and tackle difficult challenges if they care about the outcome and can buy into the bigger picture. Ensuring employees understand the goals of the company and how their role contributes to achieving it reminds everyone that we are all stronger when we work together, and everyone’s input is important.
At Schlam, we believe our Town Hall Meetings provide an opportunity for people to catch up on what we have achieved together as an organisation and where we are headed. In addition, offering staff the chance to use their skills to benefit local nonprofits, for example, can foster a strong sense of purpose.
And finally, developing value or ethics-led company principles also encourages people to "buy in" to its key organisational goals.