Organizational culture can be a potent source of motivation for your team or an equally powerful hindrance to it. Some view organizational culture as an ethereal force of nature that is troublesome, costly, or impractical to control, so they don’t try. Others oversimplify it, dusting their hands off after a quick ‘about us’ page update.
The truth is, it’s both simple and extremely challenging to build the type of company culture that inspires and sustains motivation and engagement. It is easy to build a pipeline of satisfied employees because satisfied employees are happy where they are. They aren’t necessarily engaged and motivated to do more to help the organization excel. Motivated and engaged employees want to push to be better and make the business a better, more fulfilling place to work.
Motivation is the fuel that drives your organization forward. When it waxes, you surge ahead; when it wanes, your speed stalls. The motivation level of your team not only has a direct impact on that speed but also on the quality and quantity of output. Employee motivation programs of various styles and philosophical grounding have come and gone over the years. Just like fashion, motivational theories go in and out of style, but there are still some core ideas that will likely always be relevant. Of those core ideas, we’re going to zero in on Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It gives us insight into what humans require and desire to live a fulfilling life. It focuses on the several needs of the human being that help them grow to start from,
Survival Needs: You've met at least some, if not all, of their survival, needs as long as you're paying them to work. People who are locked in survival mode, on the other and, will always be looking for something better. For different types of workers, "survival needs" can mean different things. While higher salaries aren't always associated with mproved retention, equitable wages can make a significant difference.
Security Needs: People who don’t feel secure will not likely stay with your organization for long. To improve people’s sense of security, you need:
● Strong, ethical leadership
● A workplace that doesn’t tolerate hostility, harassment, or bullying
● Transparency about organization performance
Belonging Needs: Humans are social creatures and we like to belong to a certain place. The organization culture can address the need to belong by:
● Hiring for cultural fit
● Paying attention to onboarding and training needs
● Encouraging open lines of communication between coworkers, employees, and management
● Embracing diversity initiatives
Importance Needs: People like to feel important and be a part of a group and much included when they have a role to play in those groups. Does your culture highlight and recognize team members to make them feel important? People who perceive a sense of importance also feel engaged in a company’s vision and mission. Include the following types of programs to help build up staffers and their understanding of their importance to the company.
● Recognition programs — formal and informal
● Awards for achievement
● An employee newsletter or intranet where employee success stories are shared
Self-Actualization Needs: Most people strive to be the best version of themselves, and career accomplishments can play into self-actualization. How well does your organization’s culture facilitate self-actualization concerning what your employees achieve? Self- actualization is the pinnacle of the hierarchy, so you have to think about what will be most significant and meaningful to your team culture and help employees fulfill their professional potential. Programs could include:
● Educational assistance
● Wellness programs
● Community service and corporate social responsibility initiatives
● Flex schedules
As Lindsay McGregor and Neel Doshi explain in their Harvard Business Review article on the topic, an organization’s cultural climate has a direct influence on employee motivation. Simply put, “Why we work determines how we work.”
It’s no wonder that companies are known for having positive corporate cultures—such a Trader Joe's and Southwest Airlines—actively cultivate positive otivational factors and work to mitigate demotivational factors.
The trademark of strong company culture is a motivated, engaged workforce. How your organization carries through could differ significantly from the way others do, and that’s ok.
There is no ideal company culture to work towards. Part of the beauty and the inherent challenge is that each organization, each team within it, and each individual on the team is unique. Because of that, the motivational and demotivational factors that drive your team might seem completely different from those of others at face value. However, there are often common themes among them.
Leadership is crucial in forming an organization’s, culture and 'perspective': how you shape your perspective, and that of your team. No matter what kind of work you’re doing, you can help illuminate the purpose in it for yourself and your team to help build a foundation for intrinsic motivation to grow.
Taking a page from Herzberg rather than focusing on being a “cool” boss, focus on not being a bad boss while supporting your team’s sense of achievement, ownership, and growth. Improving employee motivation is a worthwhile goal, but how do you know the steps you’re taking are leading you there? Before you can effectively address obstacles to motivation or work to inspire it, it’s crucial to have a baseline measurement. To know how well your plans and programs are working, it’s equally important to have a consistent, reliable stream of data to measure against that baseline.
It might be tempting to measure your baseline against industry benchmarks, but the most important measurement is whether you’re moving in a positive or negative direction. It is not relevant to your success if you’re at “level 22” of motivation today and your competitor is at“level 44.” What matters most is that the next time you check,
1. How company culture shapes employee motivation. (2015, November 25). Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-company-culture-shapes-employee- motivation
2. How company culture shapes employee motivation. (2020, December 17). TAM Recruiting. https://www.tamrecruiting.com/how-company-culture shapes-employee- motivation/
3. How employee motivation is shaped by company culture. (2021, April 27). HRtechX. https://hrtechx.com/2021/04/27/how-employee-motivation-is-haped-by-company-culture/
4. Is your company culture increasing employee motivation? (n.d.). The instant engagement app for Slack and Microsoft Teams. https://www.polly.ai/blog/company- culture-increasing-employee-motivation
About the Author:
Sejaal Bonny Tilwani
M.SC in Psychology ( Human Resource Development Management)
When I am not overthinking, I love to read nonfiction, learn new skills and be creative. An aspiring leader who wants to work L&D, employee engagement, and overall organizational. effectiveness.