Screen capture from YouTubeIt’s surely very simple, isn’t it? Pay your staff more and they’ll provide better performance. Not so, according to Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. In certain circumstances, he suggests, it could even lead to less efficiency.

The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of life.

Here is an entertaining YouTube clip that helps clarify what Pink is talking about:

This is not an excuse to pay staff less – Pink does make it clear that for his hypothesise to work employees have to be earning enough money to know they can pay the bills – but it does suggest the frequently presented argument: ‘staff need to be paid better if we are to expect higher standards’ does not stack up.

Another way of looking at this is in terms of employee engagement, and if you’re conscious that your staff may not be as engaged as you’d like, you are not alone. Globally, according to Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study, only 35% of employees around the world are strongly engaged, meaning they are freely giving their time, energy, creativity and knowledge to their work. And in the UK it is a lowly 27%, ranking us 9th in the 12 largest economies.

Engagement is understood to have a huge impact on staff retention: Engage for Success suggests that “highly engaged organisations have the potential to reduce staff turnover by 87%; the disengaged are four times more likely to leave the organisation than the average employee (CLC 2008).”

There’s a lot of interesting reading in the links provided above, but if you want it in a nutshell, make sure that your company values are clear and understood, empower your staff by ensuring they have the right tools and training to do their jobs properly, value them in the same way you value your ‘customers’, give them scope to excel in their work, and make sure you listen to, and act on, their ideas for what could be improved. And it is all these things, say the experts, and not extra money or bonuses that will help you retain your staff and improve your chances of having a happy and engaged workforce, translating into better outcomes for the individuals in your care.


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