I am glad to see that the story about the ‘motivational cabbage’ strategy has not been a big hit with the general public (see Motivational veg fails to have the desired effect).
The ‘motivational strategy’ of choice for a Scottish bank manager involved a junior member of staff having to sit with a cabbage for the day. Bearing a drawing of the employee’s face, it was placed on his desk in full view of customers.
The idea was that when the employee’s performance surpassed that of one of his colleagues, then the cabbage would be passed on.
Even those managers who offer generous bonuses to their employees may be demonstrating this lack of understanding of what motivates their staff.
Pay is no longer the most important issue for employees. What staff crave is self-esteem and self-actualisation – to belong, to ‘be our best’, and to feel at ease with what we do, in line with our personal values.
Enhancing self-esteem is often confused with pay. Flexibility, autonomy and work-life balance, among other things, are key issues for staff – issues that money alone cannot address.
A government review is considering proposals by the Royal Mail to give an equity stake to its employees. Ideas like this show an awareness of how the needs of employees have changed from financial to psychological.
Finally, let’s not forget about good, old-fashioned praise. Recognition and thanks for a job well done, and a supportive working environment – intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivators – are the keys to achieving real, emotional engagement from employees.
Occupational psychologist and development specialist