Dalelorenzo's GDI Blog

Stop and Go: The Fascinating Psychology of Workplace Motivation

Understanding how to motivate employees to be productive has always been an enduring topic. In the business world, chairwomen have invested decades experimenting with compensations and retributions, trying different combinations of carrot and remain based on instinct, vogue, or habit.

However, neuroscience has known hugely different intelligence task when people receive motivations or are threatened with disincentives. Understanding this psychological difference can assist you tailor-make your rewards program to inspire war and increase employee happiness.

Hitting the compensations accelerator

If you demand individual employees to step on the gas and be more productive, rewards are the way to go. Because of our evolutionary record, the promise of a payoff helps act.

While we’re not scooting to hunt and gather anymore, acting fast still has a host of benefits, whether it’s getting the corner slice of the birthday cake or being the first to voluntary for a meaningful job.

The human brain recognizes reinforces with a rise of dopamine from depth in the midbrain that hurtles to the motor cortex along a path that promotes act. This dopamine spate assistances prioritize acting to get the reward above other mental process.


If you want to see an example of this phenomenon, gave a piece of sugar in front of a young child. Unless they’ve had lots of training in politeness( otherwise known as disincentives from Mom and Dad ), they’re going to act the behavior their previous events have learnt them to: grab that candy, unwrap it, and pop it in their mouth.

This action surge completely outpaces their decision-making frontal lobe, so it takes a second to justify what they just did if you ask.

How can you apply such principles to your workplace? For occupations where more pleasure often translates to more success, such as marketings locations or taking subscribe requests, having a regular frame of rewards and approval can help work force.

A friendly contender for a wage can also encourage employees on any team to act in changing a make garb or choosing a brand-new plan. One such planned at BambooHR is called the Rafferral: every qualified applicant individual employees directs pays them one ticket for a raffle with currency or experience-based wages. We get a lot more action with accolades than we do from obligation alone.

The brains restraint pedal: Demotivation

An opposite effect happens when the ability realizes something it wants to avoid. In the midbrain, the dopamine surge initiates a different move of receptors that repress action. This process routinely predates the fight-or-flight response--imagine your legs fastening up on the edge of a bungee jump-start programme, or a soldier who freezes in clash.

Here’s a colorful floor of this result in action: when I was 12, I was crossing a local street with a friend. Traffic was ponderous and there was only one stoplight in my municipality at the time, so when there was a small break, your best friend urged me to book it. My freeze reaction kicked in when I was in the middle of a lane with an oncoming bus.

Me, parting: “But there’s a bus! ” My friend: “That’s why I said to run! ”Me, a few seconds last-minute: “...Oh! ”

It was a near miss. I probably exited right under the rearview mirrors as I careened out of the way. In such cases, my demotivation flung the brakes at the worst possible time.

Here’s the question, though: do your employees feel like a bus is coming? The implicit threats of the working world are much less pronounced than public transport barreling toward you, but indecision can ramp up the stress and leave your employees overwhelmed.


The natural response to do nothing until the invisible chance elapses can lead to analysis paralysis, or, when facing long-term job stress and ambiguity, burnout.

Without clarity on what’s expected of them, employees can get stuck in a mental freeze with the fight-or-flight response coming too little, too late.

This can happen at times of huge change--like a company acquisition, new handling, or navigating a world-wide pandemic. There are many change management frameworks developed solely to address this very human response!

Putting hire motivating strategies to action

Of course, motivating and demotivation are much more sophisticated than a adolescent altering between pedals and getting whiplash while memorize to drive.

For every reward-based action, the ability curbs other wars and believes, like a professional driver tap the restraint to wander around a hairpin turn.

Recognizing the title combination of stop and go for each persona is contributing to tailor-make your motivations and disincentives to the results you require. For instance, you might want to reward a sales rep for increasing sales, but merely focusing on personal incentives can encourage undesirable competition between hires or chipping regions to reach the remuneration. In extreme cases, unregulated rewards proposals can gate-crash through the guardrails for disastrous outcomes .

On the other hand, roles like succeeding compliance, processing payroll, or passing quality assurance on a concoction involve acting to respond to the possibility of future jeopardies to the company. But even though these employees can’t improve their war orchestrate by fixture difficulties that don’t exist, their reason doesn’t need to be limited to avoiding a mistake-based firing. You going to be able use recognition to encourage them to engage with your company.

Need some steering on employee acknowledgment best practises? Download our Guide to Modern Employee Recognition!

One example of this is my employer BambooHR’s value of Lead From Where You Are. It encourages employees to own their decisions and share their insights into constituting treats better, whether it’s beating a sales record or experiencing a better way to coordinate between departments.

This opposes with a demotivating culture where employees freeze, fearing that their actions or notions are overstepping their authority.

Tips for balancing motivations and disincentives

Make performance management a consistent process. No word isn’t ever good report , not when works start second-guessing the reasons why they’re left to drive blind. Regular one-on-one fulfills leave managers opportunities to recognize hires, apply timely course corrections, and connect them with the resources they need for their projects and progression.

Draw a distinction between remunerations and regular compensation. Few people appreciate compensating their mortgage as a rewarding activity. But all too often, that’s what they do with their cash compensations. You’ll want to make sure your employees aren’t relying on your compensation organize to meet their financial requisites, because agony can lead to unethical behavior. But when compensation is take good care, swapping to closed-loop gift placards can help ensure that your employees get that habit-strengthening dopamine boost from a real reward--even if it’s a DoorDash lunch instead of a unit lunch.

Improve your employees’ quality of life. When hires know your organization considers their daily experience, both at the office and at home, it helps ease their foot off the brake. These kindness don’t have to break the bank--offering flexible remote work schedulingor making improvements to employees’ office space can demonstrate your organization’s willingness to invest in their success, especially when working together with meaningful career development.

Get works back in the driver's seat

Understanding how motivations and disincentives alter works causes you build a workplace experience that keeps them back in the driver’s seat: ready to act, change, and progress. Developing this active, involving culture is one of the first steps to building a colourful, expanding business.

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