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What’s your “Why”?

As companies mobilize to get back a new normal, the topic of improving employee engagement has taken center stage. (Check-out our article on Employee Engagement for tips on how to evaluate and sustain engagement with everyone on your team). One of the hard lessons learned in 2020 is how intricately linked employee engagement is to productivity. 

| 92% of HR professionals surveyed placed employee engagement as one of their top priorities for 2021. 


Shelisa Bainbridge Visual Representation

The truth is, the extent to which your team is engaged has everything to do with “why” or their purpose.  For us, “purpose” is the reason your employee should be getting up in the morning (instead of simply collecting a paycheck.) As a new leader, finding out the “why” for each team member gives you valuable insight into how to engage them and create a high-function team. To understand this better, let’s talk about what tends to get confused with purpose, or the “why” behind why people come to work every day. It’s usually a combination of the following:

  • Money, which includes monetary benefits like insurance, profit sharing, professional development or tuition subsidies, and paid vacation. People need to put food on the table and pay bills. Because of its tremendous importance, money tends to feel a lot like someone’s “why”.
  • Internal motivations, which is what employees are getting out of their work, like joy or satisfaction doing the work, the respect of colleagues, autonomy, career advancement, a fancy professional title, clout, etc. 
  • External service-based motivations, or seeing the benefit your role and talents bring to others. With external motivations, you are primarily by being of service to others.

To be clear, people are motivated by all three; but they will have one that is stronger and takes up more of a dominant position in their minds. That said, only one of the above will lead to a deeper sense of purpose. Can you guess which one it is?

Check back next week: we’re taking a deep dive into the reasons why some people are motivated primarily by money.


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