How to unleash your employees’ performance and potential
The state of employee
in the workplace
Managers mostly focus on
providing the basic
employees’ needs when
they should focus on
motivational and relational
ones to truly engage people.
This is not without
Salary Beneﬁts Training Evaluation
Team spirit Effective
70% of American
workers are not
This disengagement costs between
$450 billion to $550 billion in lost
productivity per year in the USA.
Source: Gallup (2013). State of the American Workplace.
55% of workers would quit for another
company that recognizes their eﬀorts
Source: Globoforce (2012). Revealing Key Practices for Eﬀective Recognition.
costs are huge
The total cost of losing an employee can
range from tens of thousands of dollars to
1.5-2× annual salary.
How? Simply by adding the cost of hiring,
training, lost productivity, customer service
and errors, among other things.
Source: Bersin, J. (2013). Employee Retention Now a Big Issue: Why the Tide has Turned.
Communication is key.
Tell them truly what you expect from them.
Give them a sense
According to Teresa Amabile:
“Of all the things that can trigger
emotions, motivation and perceptions
during a work day, the most important is
progress: moving forward and achieving
Source: Amabile, T. & Kramer, S. (2011). The Progress Principle. HBR Press, Boston, MA.
Employees that are appreciated at work not
only feel more sure of themselves but also
trust their colleagues and managers.
When employees are thanked for a job well
done, they feel as though they have a
Recognition can enhance motivation by
attaining the upper levels of the Maslow
hierarchy of needs, which are a sense of
belonging, esteem and self-actualization.
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best practices for employee
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Rinse and repeat
“People often say that motivation doesn’t
last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s
why we recommend it daily.”
— Zig Ziglar, author, salesman,
and motivational speaker
61% of the employees said that being
appreciated by their manager/peers made
them feel more positive and increased their
Source: Garr, S. (2012). The State of Employee Recognition in 2012. Bersin & Associates.
Avoid giving money
Unless it is critical for employees’
remuneration, avoid giving money.
In a recent study carried out among
salespeople, Doug Chung from Harvard
University demonstrated that they preferred
rewards that were not monetary, such as
points they can accumulate to take a day oﬀ
or buy a new TV, rather than money of
Source: Chung, D.J. (2015). How to Really Motivate Salespeople. HBR, April 2015.
Oﬀer small rewards
In their study published in the Journal of
Experimental Psychology, Carey
Morewedge and colleagues came to the
conclusion that “all else being equal, the
majority of people prefer having or
experiencing many small pleasures in life,
rather than only a few great pleasures.”
Source: Morewedge C. K. et al. (2007) Mispredicting the Hedonic Beneﬁts of Segregated
Gains, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 136, 700-709.
Oﬀering a day oﬀ, letting people take a few
hours to take care of time-consuming tasks,
or simply giving people time to do
something else, has become a reward that
employees really crave.
Oﬀer an experience
57% of Americans surveyed say that
receiving an experience (lunch/diner, tickets
for the movies, a show, sporting event or
trip) made them happier than a simple
material good. Only 34% said the contrary.
Source: Nicolao, L. et al. (2009). Happiness for sale: Do experiential purchases make
consumer happier than material purchases? Journal of Consumer Research, 36(2),
Giving a badge for an achievement or
behaviour is a nice way to motivate and
reward employees when on a tight budget.
Once obtained, badges show peers and
other managers that an employee has
developed a certain skill or performed a
The fact that colleagues are earning
badges makes others want to surpass
Another way to engage people in their work
is to oﬀer unexpected prizes. Surprise them!
Novelty always irresistibly begets
What’s more: people get a heightened
sense of pleasure and anticipation when
they receive positive surprises.
“Recognition is important, very important,
simply because it is proof of a person’s
progress and achievements, which attracts
the attention of and accolades from others.”
— Dan Pink
When managers recognize employees’
contribution, engagement increases by
82% of respondents indicated that
appreciation is one of the key factors in
improving their motivation.
78% of employees stated that they would
work harder if they had more recognition
from their employers.
Sources: Garr, S. (2012). The State of Employee Recognition in 2012.
Bersin & Associates and Globoforce (2012). Revealing Key Practices for Eﬀective Recognition.
Wait a minute!I’ve read somewhere that giving awards is bad for motivation
Proponents of the self-determination
principle believe there are only two types
of motivation: intrinsic (internal) and
According to other academics, this dualism
is invalid because human motives are
multifaceted and do not divide into just
Source: Reiss, S. (2012). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Teaching of Psychology, March 2012.
Realists argue that in the real world
extrinsic rewards are common, expected,
and needed to enhance or maintain
Idealists, on the other hand, suggest that
the real world is merely a human
construction, one that might be
reconstructed to de-emphasize extrinsic
Source: Urdan, T. (2003). Intrinsic Motivations, Extrinsic Rewards, and Divergent Views of
Reality. Book Review in Educational Psychology Review, Vol. 15, No. 3 Septembre 2003.
The debate is ongoing, but one thing is for
sure: diﬀerent people have diﬀerent needs
as to what motivates.
In a nutshell, rewarding and recognizing
employees (in a variety of diﬀerent forms)
plays a crucial role in improving overall
“Not rewarding people who have come
to expect rewards may produce negative
reactions from those people, resulting in
a workforce and student body that is less
— Suzanne Hidi, Associate Professor of
Educational Psychology, University of
are an investment
46% of upper management in large-scale
companies deem that incentive programs
are an investment and not an expense.
Source: WorldatWork. (2013). Trends in Employee Recognition.