Motivation - It Takes More than Just Removing the De-motivators

6 July 2015

How do you motivate a person to run faster who has an open parachute attached? By getting rid of the parachute you say? Eliminating the obstacle will make the job a lot easier and it will more than likely make our mystery runner run faster, but it doesn’t mean there will be an increase in motivation. It’s a common misconception that in order to motivate employees all you need to do is identify the de-motivators and then eliminate them. It is certainly helpful, but it doesn’t always lead to a motivated workforce. De-motivators can make the job much harder, like climbing a mountain with rocks in your shoes. Removing the rocks will definitely create a more satisfying environment but does it increase motivation to climb the mountain? Probably not. Psychologist Frederick Herzberg first made this distinction between motivators and de-motivators. By studying workplace motivation, he made a profound discovery that is still talked about more than 40 years later. Herzberg found that the things which satisfied and motivated people at work are different from the kind of things that dissatisfy them. These include such things as low salaries, annoying bosses, dysfunctional teams, and uncomfortable workspaces can all lead to job dissatisfaction. He called these “Hygiene Factors” not because they relate to actually being un-hygienic or smelly, but simply they were mostly related to the environment factors surrounding the job rather than the work itself. Herzberg’s research also found that people are more motivated by recognition, achievement, increased responsibility, growth, and the work itself. To increase motivation it requires more than just eliminating these so-called “Hygiene Factors”, the job must be enriched so that employees can experience recognition, achievement, challenge, increased responsibility and interesting work. The goal should be to reduce sources of employee dissatisfaction whilst striving to increase motivation through enriching the job itself. Here are a few ways to enrich someone’s job in order to increase their motivation:

  • Make sure employees are regularly recognised for achievements
  • Grant them additional authority in their role
  • Give them additional challenges by introducing new and more difficult tasks
  • Increase their sense of achievement by allowing them to complete a project they started
  • Give them specific feedback to help them progress as long as it constructive

Increasing motivation and removing the obstacles are both essential for creating a motivated and satisfied workforce.