By @SimonCocking. Review of Motivation and Performance: A guide to motivating a diverse workforce, out now, published by Kogan Page, priced £19.99 by  Ian MacRae and Adrian Furnham. See more here

Money talks: Understanding the role of money in motivation

Many organizations approach the issue of employee engagement and motivation by tapping into age, gender and other stereotypes. Motivation and Performance challenges these notions, bringing together evidence that group differences are often exaggerated and that getting to the heart of what really motivates individuals is what’s most important. This book is a practical guide to ensuring that organizations consider all motivators – job security as well as the need for personal growth – to improve employee satisfaction, boost organizational productivity and reduce staff turnover.

Underpinned by original research, Motivation and Performance features case studies from finance, retail, the public and other sectors to show how the principles of motivating employees apply at all levels of the organization, not just at the leadership level, and how values and motivation can be changed and developed. Complete with a framework for conducting effective visits to front-line locations, it will help HR professionals ask the right questions, choose whether to implement external motivation-building programmes and make a real impact on an employee’s desire to progress in the company.

It might be a truism to say that we live in changing times, but from the topics that are being addressed in a range of books we have been sent to review, it really is. The challenge for big companies, and even small ones too, is how to keep your staff motivated and engaged, because the cost of not doing so will be high for your business otherwise. This book systematically looks at different types of motivation, how to achieve it, why it falls off, and if there are generational differences too. On the final one, it does attempt to debunk the myth that millennials are not motivated, and the risks of generalising by age. It’s probably common knowledge now that once humans reach a certain level of income, financial incentives no longer become as significant. Instead it becomes about factors like autonomy, recognition and affiliation – ie are they appreciated, doing interesting wok, and do they get to work with people that they like.

For managers, it can be a useful book to read, to attempt to work out how to keep their staff motivated and engaged. The study about which medal, out of gold, silver and bronze brought the most happiness were also interesting and possibly surprising. We won’t spoil the reveal (page 116), but to give a hint, winning the ultimate prize often brings a lot more soul searching than simply making the podium. This is a useful book to read for those trying to hold onto their talented staff. At a bigger picture level it may also be symptomatic of a wider upheaval in the nature and meaning of work. Once you start asking what really motivates us, it may well lead us to question just how, where, and if, we fit into an extremely large organisation.


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