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A recent article by Mark Murphy on the Forbes website cautioned against the use of items on employee surveys that assess employee satisfaction. He argued that satisfaction is synonymous with contentment, and that contentment is antithetical to employees giving 100 percent at work. Rather, he argued that employees must be inspired “to give [their] best effort,” which is not achieved when they are simply content (or satisfied) with their job. Unfortunately, his perspective may be only partially accurate.

Previous research would suggest that he is correct about the difference between satisfaction and engagement. Warr and Inceoglu (2012) found that the smaller the difference between the desired and actual features of a job (in terms of a supportive environment, ethical principles, and other factors), the more satisfied they were.

This, of course, comes as a surprise to absolutely no one. However, the more interesting result was that when employees perceived their jobs to lack some of those key features (in other words, features of the job were less than desired), they actually experienced more engagement – likely because they were motivated to pursue those desired job features. In other words, employees were motivated to make their jobs fit better with their preferences.

Overall, the results point toward two phenomena that make perfect sense from a motivational standpoint:

  1. Workers can be satisfied with their actual levels of specific job features, but when they desire greater levels of those features, they experience more engagement.
  2. When their job possesses more of those key features than desired, satisfaction suffers.

Engagement is a motivational experience; we experience it when we are pursuing a desired goal or outcome. Satisfaction, on the other hand, suggests that what we have is sufficient; it is a state of contentment.

To use an example, consider the issue of control. Some people are very satisfied with the amount of control they have over their work. Their primary motivation is simply to maintain what they have. However, others may be moderately satisfied with the control they currently possess, but would prefer to have more of it. These employees may, therefore, experience engagement when they have the opportunity to utilize or pursue greater levels of control over their work.

Neither set of employees is necessarily poor-performing. However, engaged workers will be more likely to value and take advantage of new opportunities to develop themselves in their job. So, in some ways, Murphy is right. Being highly satisfied is antithetical to the experience of engagement.

If you want people to strive for more, they should not be overly satisfied with their job as it is now; they have to want something more (i.e., a goal). If employees would change nothing about their current job (everything about the job is exactly how they want it), they may be satisfied, but they are not likely going to be motivated to pursue something more. That motivation comes from some perceived disconnect between how their job is and how they would prefer their job to be.

This is an underlying principle of what researchers would call self-regulation, which is nothing but a fancy way of saying that people have goals (which are outcomes they value), and they are motivated to achieve them. It implies that what we want in the future is somehow different than what we have now, and we are motivated when we see opportunities to close the gap between our present experience and desired future. However, our desire to close this gap can necessitate a variety of behaviors.

And this is where Murphy’s argument requires some caveats. While engagement is a motivational experience stemming from a desire to achieve a valued goal (i.e., to give our best effort, as Murphy says), if our best effort fail to produce results (i.e., some level of contentment), then we may cease to give our best efforts. Instead, we may choose to withdraw our efforts, either becoming disengaged or perhaps leaving the organization.

And that creates the conundrum. Sure, you want to avoid a scenario in which workers are fully satisfied with the status quo, unmotivated to change anything. Being too satisfied can be detrimental to motivation. However, if workers see too many discrepancies between what they value and their current condition (in other words, they have too many valued goals they are trying to pursue at any point in time), you could be creating a scenario that is also detrimental to motivation.

Instead, it would seem as though the optimal approach would be to create an environment that promotes a moderate level of satisfaction, but also one that promotes the motivation to push for something more. In that way, you could benefit from both satisfied and engaged workers.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/clement127 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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We spent the month of February asking people to tell us why they love their jobs. Here's our final selected submission, sent in by Ansley Gammage, human resources coordinator at the American Accounting Association

"My job is great. I wish everyone enjoyed their company as much as I enjoy my work and coworkers at the American Accounting Association. They truly respect each and every one of us and want us all to feel appreciated. I work hard daily complete work that makes myself, my team, and my boss proud.

"When we accomplish something huge, whether as individuals or as a team, it's discussed and we're praised. We have monthly team interactions, and we have task forces that work together to create lunch and learns and our association newsletter, AAA News and Views.

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"The fun doesn't stop there, though! This wonderful place is dog friendly, so they wander around looking for love--and treats, of course. If we are sick, we either take one of our MANY sick days or we can work from home. They want us to be well, and not to spread our germs so they are very persistent that we take the day off if we are under the weather.

"This appreciation for the American Accounting Association has definitely spread, because many applicants would take any position with us just to get their foot in the door. I'm so very grateful to be working here."

Thanks, Ansley, for your submission. Look for a delivery of special treats as our appreciation for helping to spread the love.

What do you love about your job? Tell us in the comments. The month of February is over, but love of a job can last year round. Whether it be making a difference, working with fantastic colleagues, feeling proud of the organization you work for, having great benefits or whatever else -- it's always a good time to spread the love.

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William A. (Bill) Gentry, PhD, an expert on leadership and director of applied research consulting services at the Center for Creative Leadership, will deliver the keynote address at APA's 2016 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, which will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 27, in Washington, DC.

In his keynote address, he will talk about the "The Engaging and Engaged Leader" and how leadership development contributes to a healthy workplace.

A senior research scientist at CCL, Dr. Gentry is also an adjunct assistant professor in the psychology department at Guilford College and an associate member of the graduate faculty in the organizational sciences doctoral program at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Dr. Gentry graduated summa cum laude from Emory University in 2000 and received his PhD in industrial-organizational psychology from the University of Georgia in 2005. Before joining CCL, Dr. Gentry was an organizational effectiveness specialist at United Parcel Service.

In applying his research into practice, Dr. Gentry's current focus is on helping new leaders who are managing for the first time in their lives, particularly those on the frontlines in entry- and first-level positions in organizations. His research interests are in multisource (360) research, survey development and analysis, leadership and leadership development across cultures, leader character and integrity, mentoring, managerial derailment, multilevel measurement, and in the area of organizational politics and political skill in the workplace. He also studies nonverbal behavior and its application to effective leadership and communication, particularly in political debates.

More about Dr. Gentry is available on the CCL website.

In 2011, Dr. Gentry was inducted into the inaugural class of the University of Georgia’s "40 under 40," as one of the top 40 graduates of the University of Georgia under the age of 40 to have made an impact in business, leadership, community, educational and/or philanthropic endeavors, demonstrating dedication to the University of Georgia and its mission of teaching, research and service; and representing the very best of UGA graduates.

In September 2016, Bill’s first book on first-time managers and new leaders will be published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers titled "Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders."

Dr. Gentry also frequently posts written and video blogs about his research in leadership and first-time managers (usually connecting it with sports, music, and pop culture) on CCL’s “Leading Effectively” blog. You can follow him on twitter: @Lead_Better.


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It's been two years that Ashley Uhl has worked for an association management company, and her employer doesn't just meet her expectations--it goes beyond. Ashley's submission is our selected pick of the week during our "I Love My Job" campaign in February that highlights the positive aspects of work.

We want to know why you love your job. There is still time to send us your "I love my job" story or submission. We're collecting submissions through the end of February. Our selected submission each week -- like Ashley's -- will receive a sweet treat and care package to share with coworkers.

Here is why Ashley Uhl, senior association manager at Meeting Expectations, loves her job:

"I've been at Meeting Expectations for nearly two years, and I still love coming to work every day. I have fun with my co-workers, and we work hard to deliver the best results for our client.

"The company itself is flexible, giving employees the ability to work from home or flex hours when needed. You can volunteer for new opportunities and to learn new skills with other client teams. And as is the case with people who work hard, we also play hard.

"The entire company (four offices and other remote employees) gathers in Georgia each summer for a fun retreat--where we are NOT allowed to bring our laptops. It takes the focus off of work and deadlines and lets you get to know other people you've never worked with before. And maybe throw someone in the pool."

Thanks, Ashley for your submission. Look for a delivery soon of special treats as our appreciation for helping to spread the love.

What do you love about your job? Making a difference, working with fantastic colleagues, feeling proud of the organization you work for, having great benefits, something else? Let us know. Tell us in writing or send us a photo or video. Help us spread the love and you might even be the next person featured!

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Brie Reynolds works for a company that promotes remote and telecommuting jobs, so it's no surprise that her own job is a flexible one. And she loves it. Her submission is our selected pick of the week during our "I Love My Job" campaign in February that highlights the positive aspects of work.

We want to know why you love your job. Send us your "I love my job" story or submission through the end of February. Our selected submission each week -- like Brie's -- will receive a sweet treat and care package to share with coworkers.

Here is why Brie Reynolds, director of online content at Flexjobs.com, loves her job:

"I love my job because I know I'm helping people every day, both directly and indirectly, to find jobs that better fit their lives. We hear from people who need better work-life balance for many reasons (Among the reasons: They're caring for children or elderly parents. Their spouse is in the military. They live in a rural area without a lot of opportunity. Or even finding a better balance between work and life is important to them).

Within the content team, I get to write and produce career and job search advice that helps people become better job seekers, so they can land flexible jobs. I also love my job because I'm using the skills I love (writing, research, advising) every single day. 

My coworkers are way too much fun to work with. I get to work from home every day with flexible hours. Not having to worry about a daily commute means less stress and more time to spend with my family or cultivating new hobbies. I'm not so much a work-hard, play-hard kind of person. So I like to say my job lets me be a work-hard, relax-hard person."

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Thanks, Brie, for your submission. Look for a delivery soon of special treats as our appreciation for helping to spread the love.

What do you love about your job? Making a difference, working with fantastic colleagues, feeling proud of the organization you work for, having great benefits, something else? Let us know. Tell us in writing or send us a photo or video. Help us spread the love and you might even be the next person featured!

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Every February, we host "I Love My Job" to highlight the positive aspects of work. We're receiving great submissions from people who are telling us the reasons they love their job.

We're featuring the best submissions each week here, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages. The person or team who provides our favorite entry for the week receives some special treats to share with his or her co-workers.

Send us your "I love my job" story or submission

Here is our favorite submission from last week, sent in by Alena Callaghan, a senior manager for marketing operations at Opower, an enterprise software company in Arlington, Va., that helps utilities elevate the customer experience (including saving energy.)

Why do I love my job? Let me list the ways...

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  • The Arlington office is dog-friendly. I don't have a dog of my own, so I'm able to get my puppy fix by playing with my coworkers' pooches.
  • We're treated like adults. We all have the capability to telework thanks to company-issued laptops, and I'm able to flex my hours to take care of deliveries, appointments and more. My managers trust me to get my work done without requiring me to clock in at a specific time.
  • Management listens to our concerns. There are regular Q&As with the management healthy pantry.jpgwhere we can submit anonymous, public questions through slide.do. When several people raised concerns about lack of diversity, they formed a committee to come up with concrete plans, such as having a consultant come in to one of the company meetings to teach about unconscious bias.
  • The pantry is filled with delicious, free, healthy(!) food: avocados, fresh fruit & veggies, ice cream, granola, and more.
  • There's plenty of room for growth and learning. I'm able to attend conferences, sign up for online training, and create a development plan to advance in my career.
  • We help the earth. One of the major benefits of our software is that energy users are able to save energy... over 9 million kilowatt hours and counting (enough to power every home in New Mexico for a year!)

Thanks, Alena, for your submission. Look for an office delivery next week of special treats as our appreciation for helping to spread the love.

What do you love about your job? Making a difference, working with fantastic colleagues, feeling proud of the organization you work for, having great benefits, something else? Let us know. Tell us in writing or send us a photo or video. Help us spread the love and you might even be the next person featured!

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Recently, the press release for an article appearing in Academy of Management Discoveries made some waves with the headline “Contagion of off-site work drains the company office of its value and appeal, new study finds.” Media picked up the headline and ran with it, offering comments such as “…people started working from home because everyone else was doing it” (New York Times) and “Giving your employees the chance to work from home might not be the win-win proposition many believe it to be” (Business News Daily).

Before you use this information to kill telecommuting because it’s bad for business, the press release about that article does not tell the whole story. In fact, a review of the methodology and results from the underlying study suggests the media’s portrayal is not exactly accurate.

The premise that working outside the office acts like a virus that kills off everyone's motivation and the company's values is not justified by the results of the study. Those comments came up only in some of the original interviews the authors conducted with 29 IT employees of the company. Follow-up surveys conducted with hundreds of employees from across the organization did not even study this “contagion effect.”

Rather, survey respondents from across the organization were more likely to indicate they telecommuted for beneficial reasons. The three most frequently cited reasons for working from home were the perceptions of being more productive (67 percent), being better able to manage work-family demands (63 percent) and because it made their job more satisfying (43 percent). Only 29 percent reported that it was because few people from their team worked in the office much. While selecting that reason predicted how much time people spent working from home, so did selecting other reasons. It was subsequently unclear how many people selected the office being empty as their primary or only reason for working from home.

To be sure, there is likely going to be some loss of social interaction when people telecommute regularly, but this is not news to anyone. In the early 2000s, the Center for Work and Family at Boston College produced a report that argued:

Not every position can be accomplished remotely and not every individual is suitable to work remotely or to manage remote workers. Assessment of person and job-fit to a telecommuting arrangement is essential.

The report also concluded that telecommuting by one or many employees will impact other organizational members, relationships among co-workers, and relationships between telecommuters and their managers.

An article written by Wayne Cascio and published by the Academy of Management Perspectives in 2000 – which was cited in the recent Academy of Management Discoveries article – already highlighted potential issues of isolation, loss of synergies due to decreased personal interactions, and decreased levels of trust, if not managed properly.

So, slow down the frenzy already.

If you have telecommuting at your office and it’s working well, congratulations: You’re helping employees by providing them a more flexible workplace. If not, then the recent article published in the Academy of Management Discoveries is not going to help you. It really does nothing but highlight two things we already knew.

First, a no-holds-barred approach to telecommuting may not always be in a company’s best interests. If employees are free to pick and choose when they come into the office (or if they come in at all), you run the risk of creating a scenario in which people stop showing up to work because when they choose to go, they don’t get anything out of it. Rather than simply letting employees do whatever they want when it comes to telecommuting, companies should be deliberate about how they go about implementing that flexibility.

Second, regardless of how well it’s managed, not everyone is going to think working from home is the ideal work arrangement. Everyone has different needs they fulfill through their work – including needs for achievement and affiliation. If people value face-to-face physical interactions as a way of meeting their affiliation needs, then obviously they may not thrive as well in a virtual environment.

Neither of these two issues, though, are new in any way and have been studied in past research (though, admittedly, more research on this topic can always be done). Regardless, it is important for us all to remember that telecommuting is not something we should allow to simply pop up in an organization. Like any other work process, it requires a strategy, effective management, and integration and coordination, among other work processes. It also requires that workers are a fit with this way of working and that management processes and infrastructure can effectively support it.

So, before you conclude that telecommuting is bad for business, you should delve deeper into the research.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/clement127 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” --- Abraham Maslow (1966)

This expression seems to be quite apropos to what has taken place in a lot – and I mean a lot – of modern organizations. Wellness programs have become the one-stop-shop for fixing all of your employees’ ills, with companies spending a record $693 per worker. Yet, many companies have found that they have put all their eggs into one not-so-beneficial basket, so companies began “incentivizing” participation, which is often met with mixed results.

But if incentives don’t work well for you, you might try another hammer that employees seem to be getting beaten with: gamification. If we gamify everything, from wellness programs to training to sales, employees will become more focused and engaged in their work, choosing to spend more effort and energy on these initiatives.

And if that doesn’t suit your fancy, one of the newest hammers is mindfulness, a favorite of companies like Aetna and Google. While there’s nothing wrong with the practice of meditation and mindfulness, companies are starting to treat it as a panacea for stress reduction, and in some cases, is creating a “cult of mindfulness.”

Yet, these three popular hammers all have two things in common in how they are implemented:

  1. They assume there is one best way to accomplish a desired goal.
  2. They put the onus squarely on the employee and remove any responsibility for employee ills on the work environment itself.

Instead, these solutions are often touted within organizations in which employees regularly work long hours and encounter a myriad of stressors that exist within the work environment. Hence, the goal seems to be to find ways to make people healthier, more motivated or more relaxed so they can navigate better the stressors that exist within the work environment, without having to put forth the effort to address issues that exist within the work environment.

Many organizations fail to take a systemic organizational development approach to assessing and truly solving underlying problems. When an annual employee survey suggests employees are stressed, the organization offers a mindfulness program or a stress management program and hopes it will address the problem. Yet, issues like stress, health and well-being are multifaceted and require multifaceted solutions. 

When companies rely on initiatives like wellness programs or mindfulness to solve multifaceted problems, they are committing what is called the fundamental attribution error, in which they tend to assume the problem lies with an employee rather than looking at the environment and situational demands that produce the undesired outcomes. While it is true that employee health and well-being is influenced by characteristics of the person (e.g., their personality, competencies, resources and behaviors), the situation (i.e., work environment) has a profound impact as well. A failure to address one without addressing the other will, at best, result in decreased effectiveness for what we are trying to accomplish.

Instead, what we typically see is a new hammer that becomes popular, sometimes taking hold, sometimes becoming nothing but a fad – just like we see when it comes to the latest and greatest diet. Regardless of established effectiveness or return on investment, companies tend to adopt the approach until something new comes along and take hold, even if only for a short time.

And for employees, well, I’m reminded of the attempt at ironic humor found on t-shirts, hats and other trinkets: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zemistor / CC BY-ND 2.0

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When young women come to me for career advice, they are generally just starting out in the professional world, or almost finished with school and want to discuss career paths in psychology. I talk about what it’s like to work in the field of industrial-organizational psychology and how to carve out research projects on healthy workplace topics. We also discuss the benefits of postgraduate education, leadership opportunities and long-term earning potential.

Two questions I wish more women would ask as they contemplate life after graduate school are, “How will my spouse or partner affect my career?” and “What type of workplace environment is going to be most supportive of my professional and personal goals?”

The reality for most women entering the workforce is that they will be launching their careers around the same time in their lives they’ll also be navigating marriage, balancing their partner’s professional ambitions and starting a family. A spouse who shares similar views on work and childcare responsibilities can make a big difference for women who want to flourish in a demanding career and have a fulfilling personal life.

Supportive workplace policies and leaders who understand the value of a healthy workplace help both men and women perform well in their jobs, which in turn benefits their families and organizations. This makes sense, because sure, it would be nice to have both a supportive partner in life as well as a supportive employer, but it’s not always simple to find either, let alone both.

Research has shown that the majority of us prefer egalitarian relationships, and this is what I find with most of the millennial women I mentor as well. In a study of the effect of workplace policies on the relationship preferences of young men and women, Pedulla and Thébaud (2015) found that while men and women have egalitarian attitudes about gender roles, if their companies do not offer supportive, family-friendly policies, men and women choose more traditional roles, as described in this recent New York Times article.

Many of us want partners who forge their own careers, who understand the realities women face in the workplace, and also share the household and childcare responsibilities equally. As professional millennial women, we want the best of both worlds, and we want the companies we work for to work with us so we can all succeed. In doing so, we perform better at work and everyone is happy. It’s a win-win.

More American women with advanced degrees are choosing to have both children and a career (Pew Research Center, 2015). The decision is no longer “either/or” as it was for some in previous generations, yet our workplace flexibility options and parental leave policies still lag behind both the times and other countries.

Are workplace norms and policies really limiting us from achieving gender equality in the workplace and the more equal relationships we want at home?

“Our choices are profoundly influenced by the cultural and institutional forces around us. We need to understand the real problem – that we lack the social and systemic supports that we need in order to realize our potential and share our talents with the world,” suggests Katrina Alcorn, author of the book Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink.

Something has to give in order for working parents to thrive at work and at home.

According to APA’s newly released Work-Life Survey, 51 percent of working Americans say their employer offers flexibility for when they work, and less than half report having flexible options in terms of the number of hours they work (43 percent), how many days per week they work (40 percent) and the location where they work (34 percent). Surprisingly, even fewer U.S. workers are tapping into work-life benefits, with just a quarter or fewer using work-life benefits once a month or more (APA, 2015).

APA’s Work-Life Survey also found that men are more likely than women to report frequent use of some work-life benefits, including child care resources, personal time off, flex schedules, paid leave, unpaid leave, life management support and phased transitions. Men were also more likely than women to say their employer offers many work-life benefits.

In some ways it’s easier to juggle work and family now than in earlier generations because there are more options. Yet not enough has changed – societal and workplace culture norms still set up an expectation that women should be responsible for the bulk of childcare and housework, leaving women feeling overwhelmed, burning out or opting out of the workforce all together.

Not only does the expectation persist, but, on average, women still do more of the childcare and housework, in addition to working. Mothers spend about 32 hours on childcare and housework a week, whereas fathers spend about 17, in addition to paid work (mothers spend about 21 hours a week on paid work, fathers spend an average of 37), according to the Pew Research Center.

Benefits for women to achieving greater equality at home include everything from better health and wellness to more fulfilling relationships. Yet men who strive for gender equality, those who take paternity leave or stay home with their children when they are sick, can also encounter a less receptive work environment and, in some cases, are stigmatized and “daddy tracked.”

In order for women to be successful in their careers, we don’t just need paid maternity leave and flexible workplace policies. We also need partners who have the same options and flexibility and are encouraged by organizational leaders to use them for everyone’s advantage.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wespeck / CC BY-ND 2.0

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When you think about employee recognition and rewards, what do you think of? Pay? Employee-of-the-month awards? Merit raises? Thank you cards? All of these, of course, can serve to either (1) show employees they are valued, or (2) motivate them to achieve effective performance. However, as was pointed out in the American Psychological Association’s Recognition Survey in August 2014, there is a gap between what employees value and what employers offer.

I recently had the privilege of being a panel member at the Work, Stress, and Health Conference in Atlanta, where panelists discussed common workplace myths surrounding issues of employee engagement, recognition and work-life balance. One of the issues we discussed is the myth that non-monetary recognition (e.g., awards, thank-you notes) are just as effective forms of recognition as compensation and pay raises.

According to the APA survey, 62 percent of employees value merit increases and 47 percent value fair monetary compensation, the two most valued forms of recognition. And yet, only 39 percent of employees reported their employer provides merit increases, and only 19 percent report they receive fair monetary compensation. Other tactics were much less valued, including verbal or written appreciation from one's supervisor (28 percent), peer-to-peer recognition (16 percent) and recognition ceremonies or events (11 percent).

But that wasn’t the meat of the results. Instead, it was also found that various aspects of recognition were predictive of key attitudes toward work. How effective supervisors were in providing recognition, how much employees valued the recognition they received and how fairly recognition was handed out accounted for significant amount of variance in whether employees say they work harder because of the recognition they receive (49 percent), employees’ reported motivation to do their best for their employer (44 percent) and employee job satisfaction (43 percent).

But, of course, a recent article on Forbes.com by Sarah Kauss, suggests that a “pay bump isn’t the answer to employee happiness.” While I do not dispute the importance of the issues she addresses (i.e., developing a culture of learning, creating a fun culture, executing culture imbued with purpose), and that sometimes additional funds are not available for salary requests, there are three primary problems with the article.

First, there is an illogical leap between not being able to “match a salary request” and “there are more effective ways to reward employees beyond compensation.” While I understand that sometimes the funds aren’t available for merit increases (especially as we saw during the recession), it seems like a fallacy to then simply argue that there’s more effective ways to reward employees.

Second, it is unclear what developing a learning, fun culture or executing culture imbued with purpose has to do with employee compensation. Working in a fun environment or feeling as though your work has meaning might offset the negatives of a slightly lower salary, but that’s all it does. If people could make more money in a similarly fun, meaningful environment, many of them would probably choose to do so.

Third, the implication that a fun environment is a “reward” for employees doesn’t make any sense. A reward is something that is received for doing something good – for achieving something. We reward people for their contributions, for the value they add. Creating a learning-oriented, fun culture with purpose would seem to be a driving factor to produce results.

I’m not saying that feeling as though one has made a difference or that one has fun at work is unimportant (I’ve written about the importance of being in a career or calling), but it is also important for an organization to demonstrate recognition for the contributions people made to that organization’s success. And if the APA study results are to believed, then supervisors need to be effective at providing recognition, recognition has to be provided fairly and employees have to value the recognition they receive.

Hence, my key takeaway from this article is that creating a learning-oriented, fun, mission-driven culture is a great way to create an environment that supports higher levels of engagement, performance and (to use the term expressed by the author) employee happiness, but if there isn’t any valued recognition offered when people perform well, that culture will be difficult to maintain. Providing recognition effectively means (1) understanding the type of recognition your employees value, and (2) utilizing those forms of recognition in a fair, effective way. And while I understand that sufficient funds are not always available to provide monetary forms of recognition, pretending it is unimportant (and maybe most valued by your employees), does not mitigate its actual value to those employees.

It is easy to convince ourselves that if employees just have fun at work and see purpose in their work, we can compensate (pardon the pun) for lower wages. However, the proliferation of that myth can lead to increasing gaps between what employees make and what they perceive to be fair, which can, over time, make it more difficult to attract and retain high-quality employees.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/photobunny_earl / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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