CEOs who think “pay” trumps “play” in the office are missing a major opportunity and likely doing their business a disservice.
It’s no surprise that happier workers are more productive workers, but how can happiness or motivation be leveraged and measured? This is a common question CEOs from companies of all sizes want to answer. Like my peers, I’m interested to know what other leaders are doing to create and measure an engaged and motivated workforce.
I recently came across the book Primed to Perform by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, former McKinsey partners and business performance researchers. The authors use science to demonstrate how play, purpose and potential can be quantified. At the same time, they show how emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia hold people and workplaces back.
Spoiler alert: It turns out, companies that prioritize values, actions and culture that align people to work they love don’t just get the job done, they outperform those who don’t. Tapping total motivation, or “tomo,” helps workers perform better even under the economic and emotional pressure that can veer many people and organizations off course.
Here are some ways leaders anywhere can tap into tomo:
1. Take the pulse of your team members’ individual motivation.
It is common for businesses to ask their employees, “How are we doing?” in an effort to check in on whether they are aligned with company values, vision, benefits and even amenities like office space and employee meals. What’s less common is asking employees about their job fit. Do they feel a unique ability to use their skills and passion to make a difference? Do they recognize areas where they can continue to grow? Aim to hire and retain employees who strongly identify with the role that’s right for them, for the right reasons — “missionaries” as opposed to “mercenaries.”
2. Consider learning as a bigger carrot than salary.
How many times have you tried a “Hail Mary” salary increase or title change to keep a star player on your team? Chances are good it never resulted in long-term retention and only served to delay the inevitable.
Companies have experimented for years with role rotations to expose their best and brightest to a broader view of the business and the rich learning that comes with it. But shouldn’t we also actively engage our team members to identify and learn skills that align with their personal interests and career goals (and, of course, company needs)? As employees get better and learn more, the business is strengthened.
3. Skip the ping pong tables, but encourage play in the workplace.
Here in Silicon Valley, tech companies are known for delivering a wide array of perks from catered lunches to office scooters to provide more play and fun in the office. But empowering employees to further explore the job itself could create the most successful sort of play, the kind that impacts both personal and business performance.
Consider, for example, a culture where everyone is encouraged to experiment on a regular basis, garnering fresh perspective ranging from process to strategy. At Zenefits, we tweaked our own internal ethos, from “grow at all costs” to “grow in a healthy, sustainable way.” It’s allowed us to build a foundation of the right values, skills and infrastructure from which we can now experiment to advance our people and our business and deliver a better result for our customers.
Cultural transformation takes time. But when leadership adopts a new point of view that’s backed up by a new understanding of how we achieve goals, great things become possible.