5 ways to make employees happy
Did you know that it is quite easy to build a happy workforce? That it has a lot to do with behavioral science? And that the Octalysis framework can show you the way to employee happiness?
Find out below how we can help you with the aid of the 8 Core Drives.
Using intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in combination with an understanding of White Hat and Black Hat motivation is the secret sauce in experience design.
But first, a quick reminder about Intrinsic/Extrinsic motivation…
Intrinsic / Extrinsic
Extrinsic motivation can be described as the motivation you feel because you expect a tangible reward for your actions: e.g. money, points, status, promotions.
Extrinsic motivation exist when your employees are mainly motivated by:
- year-end bonus
- to increase status
- to gain prestige
- to acquire power
- to develop marketable skills
Intrinsic motivation at the work floor exist when work:
- provides meaning
- inspires and allows creativity
- provides for autonomous choices
- connects them to others socially and in problem-solving environments
- involves curiosity, new challenges
Extrinsic motivation sounds bad doesn’t it? But it isn’t that simple. Extrinsic motivation is key in motivating people to act; to make mundane tasks more efficient and to ensure that they do not have to fear for not bringing enough money home to feed mouths.
The issue is that most companies are too good at designing for extrinsic motivation, while ignoring design for motivation that creates a fun, social and creative work space. Such design creates out of the box value added products and ideas. Ideas we need for the economy of the 21st Century.
Let’s look into White Hat / Black Hat and then move onto the 5 ideas I promised you.
White Hat / Black Hat
These terms come from early work in SEO, where there was White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. Generally speaking, White SEO made Google happy. Black Hat SEO could trick Google’s algorithms for a while, but eventually Google wasn’t happy and penalized engineers using Black Hat SEO techniques.
Too much Black Hat catches up to you.
Just like a programmer trying to trick an intelligent Google team, using Black Hat motivation is obvious and employees eventually become dissatisfied, burned out, or worse, don’t even respond to its intended motivational triggers.
Common examples of Black Hat motivation:
- crushing/difficult/unrealistic deadlines (that are made up)
- unpredictability in workflow or assignments
- unclear progression in professional path or compensation
- dangling rewards without clear road to those rewards
Meanwhile, White Hat motivation feels good.
- feeling part of something bigger than yourself
- being creative
Again, many companies are good at one (black hat) and bad at the other (white hat). make sure you invest in White hat design though. They tend to be slow-building but they are long-lasting. Invest in them.
On to the 5 ideas!!!
5. Merit-based compensation
Remember, the best motivational strategy combines intrinsic/extrinsic and White-Hat/Black-Hat.
Merit-based compensation is fair because it should encourage diligent work and creative problem-solving.
Choose an area of the task or overall employee role to fit in merit-based compensation. Define what skill or value is being measured. This could take the form of an if-then statement:
If employee creates x value, then y compensation occurs.
(I recently overheard two university professors complain that they were high performers as Chairs of committees, only to be rewarded with yet more work as additional Chairs on other committees! A better reward would have been flexible time to work on their research or books.)
The key is to agree with the employee on an accurate measure and time scale for evaluation.
This arrangement should allow a balance of:
- Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment (skill gain to solve problems)
- Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback (creativity in problem-solving)
- Core Drive 6: Impatience & Scarcity (not all employees can get additional compensation)
- Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity (the potential problems to solve could change)
4. Logical progression of compensation
What are your employees working toward in the medium and long term?
People like to progress. No one likes to go backward. We like forward movement.
But as a CEO or manager, you know you can’t move everyone as fast as they may want to. Here is a test of your expectation and motivation management (and design, of course!).
From the moment you meet a candidate for a role in your team, she needs to begin to understand what the logical progression of work and compensation looks like in your team, in the 1, 3, and 5-year windows.
Then, upon joining the team, you can communicate further about this potential progression. There are two keywords here:
Potential leaves some Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity in the employees mind, which is a Black Hat but Intrinsic motivator.
Progression is a combination of Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment and Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession, which are more White Hat and Extrinsic.
This way, you create a balanced motivational arsenal.
Be clear in your communication. People are smarter than you think. Some of your employees are smarter than you–that’s why you hired them. They will sniff out BS if you rely on it.
3. New opportunities
Your company has many diverse problems to solve.
Don’t have money to hire another employee? Why not find out if someone on your current team can solve the problem?
Here is a way to test employees and also give them an opportunity to wow or impress you.
Make the project open-ended enough to allow creativity, but put time restrictions or competitive elements (if you want to test multiple people at the same time).
This way, the following Core Drives are invoked:
- Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback (Problem solving; White-Hat/Intrinsic)
- Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness (Competition; Black-Hat/Intrinsic)
- Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience (Time-bound; Black-Hat/Extrinsic)
2. Team or Cross-Functional Projects
One problem at companies with more than about 5 employees is knowledge sharing. Lack of knowledge sharing creates inefficiencies that hurt the bottom line and distract from real profit-driving work.
Even if a project COULD be done by a single, top employee, it can be very effective to assign a project to two to four people (or more depending on the project).
This encouragement of collaboration will build connections and relationships in your team on top of the benefit of skills naturally being absorbed across minds.
The Core Drives in play:
- Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment (skill and knowledge; White-Hat/Extrinsic
- Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness (collaboration: White-Hat/Intrinsic)
5. Team Retreats
Doing team retreats right is an art in itself, but retreats DO work if done right.
Behavioral scientists have understood that spending time outside of the normal environment facilitates different kinds of thinking.
Take your team on a trip or do a volunteer event together.
Try to fit in time to problem-solve on some of your biggest issues for the year.
You will build team chemistry, alchemy, and rapport. You will be joking and laughing about moments on the trip for years to come.
Retreats, if communicated correctly, provide:
- Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity (Where are we going? Italy or Germany?)
- Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback (Solving your team’s biggest challenges)
- Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness (Team activities, spending time together)
You need to apply a balanced approach of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with elements of white hat and black hat into your design.
If you are a Head of HR, Chief Learning Officer, or the manager of a team, you can’t afford to leave sound motivational design principles out of your employee management approach.
Contact us to get started. Your employees will thank you and you’ll have a head start on your competition.