In the quest to crack the code on keeping employees happy and motivated, corporations the world over spend a chunk of wasted money on cookie cutter methods to "engage" their employees and "train" their leaders.
Actually, let me share a secret with you. It's much simpler than that and much more cost-effective (in fact, it may be relatively free to pull off).
First, managers must have a basic understanding of human behavior, and how experiencing positive emotions is at the root of human motivation -- we are wired for it. That means knowing what makes people tick and what inspires them to perform their jobs at a high level.
This helps to explain why your people may be quitting. It comes down to five words:
Lack of meaning and purpose.
Why you need meaning and purpose in your work.
Dr. Steve Taylor, writing for Psychology Today, states "The need for purpose is one the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose, and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don't have it. Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life."
One way to give employees meaning and purpose is to give them the chance to connect with and meet the people they are serving.
In Grant's documented studies, meeting the very people you help is the greatest motivator, even if limited to a few minutes. The reason? When employees see firsthand the human impact that their work makes, when they feel and know that they are making a difference in the world through the work they do, it increases their motivation to perform.
A practical solution.
It would behoove managers to learn the strengths, gifts and talents of their employees and craft and assign meaningful work beyond a static job description.
Billionaire Richard Branson understands this concept quite well. He says that once you know what your own motivations and aspirations are as managers, talk to your employees about theirs. Then design their jobs in a way that allows them to tap into their intrinsic motivation -- that passion that comes from within, from their hearts. He says, "With you and your employees approaching your work with renewed energy and commitment, you'll find that there's little that you can't accomplish together."
Bringing it home.
We spend at least one-third of our lives on the job. And jobs should exist beyond just collecting a paycheck. (that's the extrinsic, carrot-and-stick method of motivation, and it's been proven as unsustainable).
As managers, it makes more sense to connect your employees' work to meaning and purpose -- to allow them to touch the mission, be co-creators of the vision, and understand how even the smallest tasks they perform contribute to the big picture.