The question we get asked often is, “If I invest in employee experience, what will be the productivity return for my company?”. To answer this question, let’s look back at the aspects of what motivates people to outperform? In his book, "Drive," Daniel Pink sets out a new vision for workplace motivation and argues that traditional approaches to employee experience are quickly becoming outdated, and do not adequately address the needs of the creative and innovative workplaces of today. He further highlights the value of intrinsic motivation based on three key factors: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
Autonomy motivates us to think creatively and ignite ideas without needing to conform to stringent workplace rules and traditional protocols – instead organizations can enhance employee autonomy, build trust, and improve innovation and creativity. Mastery on the other hand is the desire to improve. If your employees are motivated by mastery, their potential is unlimited, and they will constantly seek to improve their skills and competence through learning and practice and try to improve the mix by continually fine-tuning and improving upon their work. And then there is a purpose – employees become disengaged and demotivated at work if they don't understand, or cannot invest in, the "bigger picture." They expect their sense of purpose to align with that of their organization. An environment that enables all of these is one where the employee experience will be great and productivity returns will be high - allied with a strong sense of identity and belonging.
In an age of constant upheaval, organizations that create personalized, authentic experiences that reinforce both physical and mental wellbeing will position themselves ahead of the curve. And while some companies are exploring hybrid working models, others are pushing for a full return to the office while reshaping their overall structure and office spaces to promote greater collaboration and flexibility for both employees and clients.
A balanced model of hybrid work is becoming the new norm enabled by technology, and policies and can heighten idea generation and creative friction needed for problem-solving. Interestingly, workplace flexibility is not just about being in the office or online, it simply means choosing a space that works best and supports wellbeing, career advancement, and productivity.
Steve Jobs famously said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
What does it look like in practice? Great work is extraordinary, innovative, and trailblazing.
While we have witnessed examples of how great work has transformed different facets of a nation, industry, or organization – the bottom line is, there must be strategic alignment to the overall goal. While it is not always easy to measure whether great work is in-progress or not, it is important for organizations to create a conducive environment where it is possible to ask the right questions. Also, individuals are likely to be more engaged in their work when they pursue goals that they have helped to create and they deliver the difference by remaining laser-focused on positive outcomes.
Let’s look at some of the prerequisites for a good leader. The best leaders I have worked with have demonstrated the following – an ability to set a strategic vision for the company built teams that have the skills to execute on this vision, orchestrated short term performance whilst not losing sight of long-term goals, and understand the performance levers of the business and managed them with rigor. In addition, it is imperative for good leaders to rally the organization through the ups and downs of performance cycles and establish meaningful relationships across various stakeholder groups. Next to these, empathy and compassion are now considered essential characteristics for leadership. In the current context, leaders need to demonstrate that they understand what employees are going through.
In my view, regardless of geography or industry, we now have a unique opportunity to double down on attuning great work and great leadership. Combined, these two levers can help create a distinctive employee experience that has a direct positive correlation in improving employee productivity. Employers harnessing the momentum of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose are shaping the future--for themselves, and others.