Motivation in the Workplace: Does Aiming for Employee Happiness Undermine Engagement?


Many studies over the years have proven that satisfied/happy employees are more profitable.

The result has been the increase of entitlements and entitlement programs with tangible results.

What if this evidence leads us to short term gains that are unsustainable?

Short Term Incentives

Here is my theory – when we use incentive based leadership, we can measure a shortterm impact that can be quantified into a ROI. This encourages a focus on satisfaction and externalities.

Sustainable Motivation

A sustainable approach would involve creating an intrinsic motivation that is self determined by employees. They would have a sense of belonging to something bigger. They attach themselves to the mission of the organization and to the people they work with.

Our practices of short term ‘happy measures’ may in fact work against the sustainable leadership approach.

Sears started this when they demonstrated a ratio of profitability correlated to employee satisfaction. Does this foundation of evidence lead us to bad practices?

Your Turn!

Does your organization have a strategy to create sustainable intrinsic motivation among employees? Is this important? Do you believe there has to be a balance between the short-term and long-term efforts? Please share your thoughts, insights, and opinions in the comments section!

Ryan Williams