What difference does motivation make to your Happiness at Work?
There’s a strong connection between Happiness at Work and motivation. But how does one impact the other? We investigate this in the fifth of our blog series on what most affects your Happiness at Work.
According to Mitchell (1997), motivation has four elements:
- arousal – the energy to initiate action
- direction – focused action
- intensity – the degree of effort you can dedicate to the action
- persistence – the duration for which you sustain the effort
If you’re motivated, you produce better results by performing more efficiently and effectively. But you also display increases in several positive behaviors, including seeking feedback (Brown, 1996; Pinder, 2008), citizenship behavior (Grant & Mayer, 2009), and learning and skill acquisition (Colquitt, LePine & Noe, 2000). If the people in your workplace are happy and motivated then you’ll see reduced staff turnover, absenteeism and burnout (Humphrey, Nahrgang & Morgeson, 2007), as well as all the other benefits from having higher levels of Happiness at Work which we’ve looked at before.
Building motivation: Goal setting and job design
But how can you increase your motivation at work? Two approaches are goal-setting and job design. The theory of the former suggests that you can increase your motivation by avoiding vague goals: instead you should be setting specific, time-bound & challenging goals (Locke & Latham, 2002). A goal’s effectiveness, however, is partially affected by the situation you’re in, your commitment to it, and your individual ability (Locke & Latham, 1990; Diefendorff & Chandler, 2011). This can mean that setting goals doesn’t always result in higher motivation.
That said, if you have some scope to design your job then you can increase your motivation in another way. If you have some input into how you complete your tasks at work, you can give yourself more control over what you do, on what you’re doing (Gagné & Deci, 2005). All of this can help increase your Happiness at Work, partly because you can make your work interesting. Not only that, because motivation is also heightened by factors that support teamwork (such as trust, open communication and effective leadership), social support and a healthy physical work environment (Humphrey et al, 2007), you can build on those and further improve motivation. And as a result you’ll be improving your Happiness at Work.
Why is it important to strive for a workplace with qualities like teamwork and social support? It’s because workplaces where there is a strong, supportive culture of teamwork built on mentoring and loyalty promote motivation (Lund, 2003; Kristof, 1996). Conversely, if your workplace is political, by which we mean where people often show behavior designed to maximize their own self-interests, then you’re likely to have a lower motivation (Vigoda, 2000).
The reason that all of this is so important is that Happiness at Work and motivation are closely related, and both have a number of clear benefits to the workplace. Fortunately, this element of Happiness at Work has several routes to improvement. Effective goal-setting and job design can make a real difference, and the research supports that.
What we know from our research
Our own research shows us that the people who are happiest at work are 50% more motivated than the least happy. And the least motivated people are 50% less productive. And as Jess Pryce-Jones says in her book, “[t]hat has an immense effect on Contribution: when you’re demotivated you just don’t set the bar as high as you could or achieve as much as you can. That’s not good for you or your employers.”
Are you motivated to do your job? If you’d like to speak to us about this or anything else then either comment on this post or get in touch. We’re always interested in hearing what you think!