Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. One of his fascinating research topics is on what makes work meaningful, and he listed three ways that managers can make work more meaningful for their colleagues:
- Ask them to present their work to (a part of) the company.
- Ask how their work could fit into other parts of the company.
- Ask them to build a prototype to see how it would work.
These suggestions came from employees of a large Seattle software company whose project had been cancelled, and had not had these opportunities. The result was the affected employees had decreased motivation, increased absenteeism, and were more likely to fudge on expense reports.
Acknowledging the work of your employees increases motivation. No secret there, but his research also found that ignoring the performance of people was almost as bad as shredding their output. As believers in applying research to practical situations, we work hard to acknowledge and appreciate the work of our clients, allied colleagues, and employees.