MR SIM Joe Han’s question – “Are we on the right track to improving productivity?” – is highly pertinent (“Intrinsic motivation works better”; March 8).
It is universally recognised that employees can be inspired towards greater productivity through tangible incentives such as pay increments. Increasingly, however, businesses around the world are beginning to notice how intangible aspects of employee motivation can have a similar, or even greater, positive effect on productivity.
As pointed out by Mr Sim, one key aspect of intrinsic motivation is the degree of comfort and stimulation in a work environment.
Another factor to consider is the relationships that are fostered at the workplace.
Bearing in mind that many of us spend more than half of our waking hours in the office, interaction with our colleagues and superiors bears great influence on our perception of the workplace environment.
Treating co-workers with kindness helps to build camaraderie and trust, both key components of successful and synergistic teamwork. Research has revealed a mutually reinforcing relationship between happiness and kindness. Being kind can translate to greater happiness, and those who are happier tend to exhibit greater kindness.
Applying this to the workplace, a growing cycle of kindness and happiness can boost staff morale and heighten the motivation to excel.
Studies have also shown that kindness to oneself and to others contributes to the overall health and well-being of the individual.
Well-being programmes at workplaces should go beyond physical well-being to encompass spiritual, psychological, social and emotional well-being. This is where a disposition of kindness is indispensable.
Paying due attention to intrinsic motivation practices is a win-win situation for all. Employees derive greater satisfaction from their work, and are more efficient and creative.
Work becomes fun and they look forward to going to work, and therefore are less likely to quit. Higher retention means that employers stand to reap business benefits from a highly motivated and productive workforce.
Dr William Wan
Singapore Kindness Movement
First published in The Straits Times – March 16, 2013