Employee Motivation: A Perspective

Swati Dash, Associate Director - HR, HCL TechnologiesSwati is a Certified Engagement Expert from Aon Hewitt, and has been associated with HCL Technologies for 13 years now.

I used to be a voracious reader since my childhood, thanks to my mother who very early in my life introduced me to the library culture. Off late, I have got back to reading; courtesy my team member who recently gifted me a book ‘Ikigai’ written by a Japanese author Yukari Mitsuhashi. Ikigai basically means giving every day meaning and joy. The word is coined by using two Japanese characters: ‘Iki’ meaning life, and ‘gai’ meaning value or worth. Hence, together it means ‘value of life or happiness in life’. The author went ahead and beautifully captioned it as ‘0the reason you get up in the morning’.

The most interesting part is that it is not limited to doing household chores, pursuing hobby or others. You can get Ikigai even while at work! Eureka; now I started thinking how about connecting this to employee motivation. As HR professionals, we are constantly being asked what should we do to keep the workforce motivated, that too a multigenerational workforce comprising the Gen X, Gen Y (Millenials), and Gen Z.

At the same time, I wonder why employee motivation is put as a sole responsibility of the HR? As individuals, when we are responsible for taking our own decisions – we
choose to join a particular organization; we choose our profile or rather have been consciously working in this profile. Then, why sustaining motivation which is very intrinsic to self is being given as a responsibility to be managed by someone sitting outside (HR partner) who may be perhaps having their own challenge to deal with their own motivation!

After serving in HR for close to two decades now, I realized over a period of time that the role of HR is actually not to design motivational programs for the employees, but to create a space or an environment where one can self-discover their ‘Ikigai’ i.e. finding their happiness quotient in the work they are doing. The role of HR should be designing programs for one to self-discover their Ikigai.

Normally, I have seen that each one of us do find that out of the ten things we are asked to do, there are on an average at-least more than two things we really enjoy doing, and remaining we do because we do not have any choice or perhaps we do because our ‘job crafting’ is not done efficiently. Actively shaping your job to make it a better fit to your motives, strengths and passion is called job crafting. In my view, job crafting cannot be a one-time thing, but is an on-going process. We should ask ourselves the right questions focusing around the following areas as aptly extracted from the book –

  • Detailing the tasks I am doing

  • How I feel about the tasks

  • How I am spending my time

  • Who am I talking to virtually or in reality

This knowledge of ‘myself’ is one of the first step to be followed by writing down small actions that may create an appeal in each of the tasks. It is perhaps here one needs to see which elementary change in their tasks brings them motivation. This exercise is best done if we are able to find an anchor or what we call a right mentor who will help to get a good perspective. After all, we all like if someone is there to help us through the ups & downs of our career and a right mentor can create super engagement!

I am not trying to say that with the above experiment you will immediately become an ever motivated employee/individual. However, an attempt to discover yourself with these baby steps will definitely move you out of the inevitable negativities that surround each one of us and feel positive about oneself first.