In the global workforce today, more than 50 percent of employees are disengaged while only about 17 percent are “actively disengaged” according to recent Gallup data. Gallup has been collecting surveys on employee engagement since 2000 and the problem of lack of motivation has risen steadily by 2 percent a year.
Negative motivation is a big problem. When people are disengaged they show up late, leave early, fail to keep good records, do the minimum, steal things, abuse privileges, and occasionally sabotage their employers― intentionally or unintentionally
The reasons for disengagement at work are complex and not easily remedied. Incentive programs and external rewards can only do so much and are often ineffective for motivating those who are already disengaged. Research shows that people dramatically underappreciate the extent and depth to which a feeling of accomplishment influences people.
Unfortunately – whether at work, at play, or at home – we quite easily become offenders against human motivation when we ignore, criticize, disregard or destroy the work of others.
The Power of Acknowledgment
Workplace motivation has been studied extensively in endless scenarios. Across the board, results show that when we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay. When we are not acknowledged, we lose much of our motivation.
What is meant by acknowledgment? It comes in many varieties but it is basically recognition of someone’s contribution, an expression of appreciation, an indication that their work is valuable and they are an important participant.
Acknowledgment is a kind of magic because strong human connections are experienced when it is given from one person to another. This reinforces social interactions and boosts motivation, energy, and cooperation in both parties.
Money isn’t the great incentive most of us assume it to be. Sometimes it is even a disincentive. Motivation is more complex than carrots and sticks.
The truth is we are easily demotivated by criticism and respond well to acknowledgment. Yet even with plenty of research to validate this, we seem to overuse the former and forget about the latter.