De-motivate your best employees, what not to do

de-motivatedEver wonder how to properly motivate and inspire your employees? Well, one way is to first find out what not to do.  New research suggests that work-related awards such as employee of the month can actually lead to a drop in motivation and productivity. Researchers from the Harvard Business School and Olin School of Business at Washington University, studied an attendance award program at a commercial-industrial laundry plant. Perfect attendance was defined as having zero unexcused absences or tardy shift arrivals in a month. Employees who had perfect attendance were entered into a drawing to win a $75 gift card to a local restaurant, the winners name was then drawn at an employee meeting. The attendance reward program had only one positive outcome. It reduced the average level of late arrivals. However, when the researchers examined the employee time sheets they found that the plant experienced some problems. First of all, employees began showing up on time only when they were eligible for the award. Workers were also 50 percent more likely to have an unplanned “absence” after the award was implemented, suggesting that employees who would otherwise arrive to work late might simply stay home “sick” because they would be disqualified from the award anyway. Second, star employees who previously had excellent attendance records suffered a 6 to 8 percent productivity decrease after the program was introduced. Suggesting, that the employees motivation dropped when the managers introduced awards for behavior they already had. These employees believed that the award program was unfair because they were already showing up to work on time before the attendance program. “The award demotivated these employees,” said Ian Larkin, author of The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field, who interviewed the employees. They felt that it didn’t seem right to suddenly reward certain employees for attendance, when in the past those employees were always late. The study concluded that the award program led to a decrease in plant productivity by 1.4 percent, costing the plant $1,500 a month. “Having your top performers demotivated for all eight hours on the job ended up creating a much bigger productivity hit than having the extra five minutes of work from someone who came habitually late,” said Larkin. The researchers concluded that rewarding one behavior can get rid of intrinsic motivation in another. You might be scratching your head, and asking yourself “if awards don’t work, how can I motivate and inspire my employees?” The key to properly motivating your employees is to help each person realize their own compelling purpose, not only will they perform better but they will actually want to perform better. For help from top experts in hundreds of different fields, visit us at one of our Quick Start Workshops (insert link here) where you and your employees can learn how to become star performers. Source: Harvard Business School]]>

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