Zeroing in on the drive to perform

What motivates people to perform well on the job? High salary? Choice benefits? Workplace pressure? Think again.

In a New York Times Op-Ed, a recent study observed worker engagement and personal job satisfaction as they relate to overall company performance. The reported findings were revealing, but not terribly surprising: More so than salary or benefits, the study found that engagement and participation in meaningful work are the principal motivators for good job performance.

Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.

Our internal work lives and our personal engagement are, on the surface, difficult to gauge. Nevertheless, employers should routinely monitor and assess engagement and worker satisfaction, the prime drivers of productivity and innovation. This includes providing support, allowing workers more autonomy and—perhaps most importantly—having the ability to encourage progress in important, meaningful work.

What really drives you to perform? Or better yet, how would you weigh your personal engagement or fulfillment against salary, benefits, or time off?

Christopher Wofford is Digital Media Producer and host of WebSeries at eCornell.
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