In a recent interview, I was asked how people can stay motivated when they can’t expect financial incentives from their organization. Here are some additional ideas to consider:
Show Me The Money Meaning!
Cash may be king but finding meaning, personal contribution and wellbeing in your work can be an equally powerful motivator – potentially even more motivating than financial rewards. If you’ve decided to work (or continue working) in a place that can’t hand out the bonus checks right now, here are four questions you can ask to get through cash strapped times:
1. Why work? Beyond the paycheck, what do you get? The answers will be different for everyone but that’s the point – to make it personal. For instance, it may be that you get satisfaction from helping to make a difference in the world with your company’s product or service or building the necessary skills to progress in your career or the contribution you are making to your family by working at all. Research shows that being aware of the ultimate purpose of your efforts can give you the pull you need to get through tough times. Try posting a picture or a list in your workspace to remind you what you’re working for.
2. What do you do best? Take a moment right now to write down the three things you are naturally good at – the things that colleagues, friends and family seek you out for when they need help. These are some of your inherent talents. Now consider how you feel when you are engaged in doing those things. It feels good right? Brain research shows that when we use our natural talents, we get a neuropsychological boost. Actively applying these personal strengths in your work is like having your own personal motivation engine.
3. How’s my stress level? Personal wellbeing is key to maintaining motivation over the long haul. Running yourself ragged may give you short term results but comes with detrimental long term effects on motivation and performance. Be sure to build stress-relievers into your days – even if it’s just standing to stretch or taking a short walk.
4. What’s the bottom line? Be honest with yourself about whether your workplace is the place for you. If you decide to push through this tough time, consider putting a date on the calendar – three, six or twelve months out. Put the money issue on the shelf until then so that you can free up your mind to focus on the work. When the date arrives, take stock of where you are and decide again. If on the other hand, you are driven to distraction by the fact that you’re not paid enough, you may need to make a change.
For Human Resources professionals: Consider how you might guide employees through these tough times keeping the questions above in mind.