(2-minute insight)

Today I read an article from Forbes about the long term benefits of employee motivation. Afterall, a motivated team is a productive team!

The article references popular ways to motivate employees such as, higher salaries, learning and development, support, opportunities for growth and leadership. However, what is missing from the article are two overlooked human motivators – the need for socialisation and its polar opposite…the need for autonomy.

No question, the pandemic has changed the way we work. Working from home was generally well received by people who prefer their own space, free from micromanagement and workplace interruptions. However, those who enjoy going into work every day struggled because of the lack of human interaction and social fulfilment they need from others. Some people will do a job they don’t enjoy just because they like the people around them. Consistent working from home took away the energy that socially driven people thrive on. This lead, and is still leading to, demotivation and therefore, a lack in productivity. A weekly video conferencing catch-up, was likely deemed inefficient to nurture relationship bonds due to the way social people read body language and energy. A computer screen, like a phone, acts as a barrier to some of our human senses, senses we use to communicate. Socialisation in the workplace taps into our psychological need for ‘sense of love and belonging’ (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).

On the flip side, people motivated by autonomy relished the opportunity to get their workload done, their way, and as a result became more productive than they were before the pandemic hit. People who enjoy working alone flourish due to there being less workplace ‘constraint‘. Those who favour independence over socialisation were given the opportunity to think more creatively for themselves leading to new ideas and for some, more lateral ways to approach tasks and solve problems. Autonomous people are now the ones struggling to adjust to going back to their work, many looking for a new role to fulfil their intrinsic needs.

What we can learn here is that when it comes to human motivation, and employee retention, one-size-does-not-fit-all. Team leaders and managers need to look beyond any assumptions surrounding the commonly known employee motivators of money, growth and responsibility. Encompassing the overlooked, yet equally important factors, of socialisation, connection and independence creates a more rounded and productive team for the long term.