Looking for the Best Way to Motivate Your Employees? Try Being a Jerk

Science & Tech / Discoveries

Looking for the Best Way to Motivate Your Employees? Try Being a Jerk

By: Nicole Capo

Google has nap rooms, Facebook feeds its employees top tier food and candy, Netflix doesn’t limit employee vacation days...But apparently they’re all doing it wrong.

A piece by The Atlantic explored the motivations behind hard work, and whether people are more driven by perks or the fear of punishment. The conclusion? It’s complicated, but productivity can definitely be boosted by fear.

One study explored in the article dealt with productivity during times of economic hardship, such as the recession of 2008. One explanation for the spike in productivity during that time is that companies had to let people go when budget cuts happened, and those who were let go first were those churning out less work than the rest. But, is that really the whole story? In fact, it’s likely that the recession-based layoffs motivated employees to actually work harder, as established in the study “Making Do With Less: Working Harder During Recessions.” If you’re scared of being fired, you’ll do your hardest to look like an essential member of your team, right? According to that study, 85% of increase in productivity occurred because employees made more of an effort to work harder.

Another relevant study looked at the effects of surveillance on employees. Survey says? Installing monitoring software in restaurants only slightly prevented employees from stealing from their workplaces, but revenue from those restaurants actually increased by about 7% a week. Turning the restaurants into panopticons might be questionable morally, but in terms of actually making the restaurants more money, the strategy worked.

That’s not to say that being a scary boss is the only way to motivate employees. It still holds true that fewer work hours give your brain more time to relax and be creative, and that vacations are important for keeping us from being overworked, which in turn leads to worse work on our ends. And, while not necessarily an essential part of work, offering employee benefits can also be a good way to increase loyalty. It may just be that finding a balance between the good cop-bad cop routine is the best way to keep employees focused and productive.

Now go get your lazy butt off the Internet and go do some work, OKAY!?

[Pic via Flickr - Phil Sexton]

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