I have been investigating the job motivation area since I see a trend that has evolved since our last major recession in the 2000-2001 time frame. People are looking for jobs, applying for new roles, even leaving positions for uncertain futures during a time when positions are not as plentiful. Why is that? Why is their turnover when people are being laid off by the thousands? Why are the open chairs when unemployment is so high? Motivation and the keys to why people work are becoming of large interest to me, to my clients, and to my company.

Motivation in the job market has really become a strong subject where experts are popping up like grass on the subject, citing numerous areas of speciality and telling companies what drives people. The truth of the matter is as I evaluate my own employees, my family, and the people I speak to that are leaving positions during this recession for something “better” - I find a consistent theme. Recognition. Man what a driver this recognition is. Professionals want to know they are doing a good job, and when they are they want to told so, identified in front of a group of peers, and made to know they count.

Funny enough, recognition is one of the most widely unused management tools used around the globe. We are quick to point out, finger, or even yell to the mountain tops when we identify a gap or see someone doing something wrong. Why do we do that? Does that build our fellow worker? Does it increase productivity? Does it inspire innovation or change? Actually it does none. What it does it make people sit back in their desks, complain about work, surf the net for new jobs, and lose countless hours and precious dollars on things that have nothing to do with their job. So why is recognition not used. Simply put, managers do not get it.

Management believes that dollars and cents are all that count. People are motivated by money. As I read and learn more from one-one personal conversations, professionals are motivated less by money than you would think. In the midst of all the benefits of a job, pay is 3rd or 4th continually on all lists. The two leading criteria are personal learning and recognition. Those lead the lists above money every single time. WOW. When I read that I was confused…you know why - I am a manager. Learning not a very good manager. Simple recognition of a job well done, an innovative idea, cost cutting measure introduced, etc. brings to life an inner spectrum untouched by money and one of far more value. People seize the opportunity and elate when their deeds are made known to others. Why? Well there are countless reasons why, but the fact remains that recognition is the key.

I have been implementing and designing ways to foster this not only in my business life, but my personal as well with extraordinary results. Small things, simple touches that let people know how well they are doing are met with joy, smiles, and most of all - HARDER work. People begin trusting, develop respect, and have a deeper devotion to the job and the company. All things we want and at a far less dollar cost than giving a raise. If you are not using them, or even considering it - hesitate no longer, look no farther, and start down the road of recognition. I think you will find the results are far more than you can imagine.

Written by Jason Monastra

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