What Motivates? Survey Says: Meaning and Recognition

What motivates you at work? Bnet recently ran a poll asking just that. While some are still surprised, “cash” ranked third – behind “doing something meaningful” and “recognition.”

Not surprisingly, praise won out over cash in a similar survey done nearly a year ago, also on Bnet.

So why are people still surprised by this (as evidenced in the comments)? A common comment theme was that you can’t do something meaningful at work. You must look for meaning outside of the workplace and work is only a means to enable you to find that fulfillment elsewhere.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In many ways GenY is leading the charge on changing this narrow attitude and more power to them. As I said in my comment to the first survey referenced, to many, “doing something meaningful” at work means knowing what your daily tasks are contributing to in the grand scheme of things – how they fit in the big picture and what value they bring to the table.

That’s the goal and primary benefit of strategic recognition, which ties every employee recognition to a company value demonstrated in achievement of a strategic objective. This process automatically shows meaning by telling employees clearly (and in the most positive way) how their valued efforts also deliver value.

Be sure to take our own weekly survey and see if readers of this blog align with those of Bnet.

2 comment(s):

At October 10, 2009 12:30 PM, Maria Vang Knudsen said...

It’s my conviction, that both I and my fellow young professionals to an increasing extent identify ourselves with our jobs and careers. This imply that in the long run it’s not enough to go to work just to be able to cash the pay check. We simply need more. In order not to feel as sincerely hollow people, our jobs have to make sense; they need to be meaningful. This does not entail that we all need to feel like we are saving the planet everyday. What’s important is the ability to place ones work within a broader valued context, whatever that may be.

Maybe this new trend is not so strange at all. If you read Dr. Martin Seligman and his work on positive psychology, put simple he states, that in order to be authentically happy, people need to engage in activities that benefits more than just themselves. Following this line of argument a meaningful job could be seen as a step in that direction. So when the young professionals are asking for meaning, I would argue that we are exploring new ways to make our work and private lives meet - in order to become happy.

At October 10, 2009 7:25 PM, Derek Irvine said...

Maria, very well stated, indeed. I thank you for so clearly validating this point.