Why Social Impact Beats a Bonus

According to the Gallup management journal, an astounding 73% of American workers are disengaged with their work.  They're either "checked out," just sleepwalking through their work day, or worse, actively undermining the company and costing hundreds of billions each year.  Any corporation that can get more of its employees engaged stands to gain an instant competitive advantage.

As any manager knows, though, motivating workers is far easier said than done.  Conventional wisdom says that people perform best when offered a bonus for good performance, but Dan Pink shares some fascinating science that shows this basic mechanism of our corporate world doesn't work.  Once you pay people enough so that they're not worrying about money, bonuses can actually distract and work against engagement and performance.

So what does work?  If you haven't heard him talk, it's really worth taking 10 minutes to watch the video above, but he boils down motivation to three key drivers: Autonomy, Mastery, and, most importantly: Purpose.

To be fully motivated, people need to feel that their work contributes to a greater purpose in society.  After all, it's not what you do, it's why you do it.  This is why I'm convinced the future of the corporation lies with social impact, and many companies are making great strides in that direction already.

As Dan Pink said, if we "get past the ideology of carrots and sticks and follow the science, we have a shot at making our world a better place."  We'll get more engaged workers contributing to meaningful work, which, after all, is what Everyone a Changemaker is all about.

This article was originally published on 27 January 2011
Related TopicsBusiness & Social Enterprise, Labor, Innovation in Teams

Author

Ryan Hubbard
Contributed by Guest Blogger Ryan Hubbard. Ryan Hubbard is a people-centered problem solver studying design and social entrepreneurship as part of the first class at the Austin Center for Design. Find him on twitter @ryanhubbard.

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