Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group
October 23, 2017

Human Drive and Workplace Engagement

It’s important to keep an eye on the current trends in research to guide decisions in the workplace. What we learn about human drive, the brain, and what motivates and engages people, changes frequently, and even a small tweak here or there can make a difference. Two Harvard researchers recently identified four social drives that complement our biologic drives, which in turn can regulate everything happening in the workplace.  When all four drives are activated, you can maximize engagement and motivation.

The Four Drives
The “drive to acquire” is where we’ll start first. People/employees are driven to acquire goods, skills, and status. By making sure goals are clear, attainable and measurable employees are motivated to achieve them, especially when they are reinforced by a well-designed rewards or recognition program. There are many ways to reward employees, and using gift cards as incentives is just one great example thanks to the trophy value.

The “drive to bond” tells us that employees are driven by and to have genuine relationships with coworkers (in addition to family and friends). Providing a positive work environment and fostering the notion of teamwork can boost that drive to bond. Allowing time for social events such as happy hours and company outings can be beneficial to building those team relationships, in addition to creating friendly competition between individuals and teams. You want your employees to be for and not against each other.

The “drive to innovate” as explained by the research is how “employees are naturally driven to learn about the world around them and create new thoughts, systems, process, relationships, and goods based on these discoveries.” A culture of innovation takes shape and progresses when you provide time and space for employees to explore their creativity and solve problems.

Finally, the “drive to defend” is one that you actually want to minimize. Everyone has an inherent desire to feel safe and defend what’s important. You want to avoid negativity, uncertainty, unpredictability and stress among your employees. Instead, provide open and consistent feedback that positively connects with them and moves your employees along in a purposeful way. It is just as important for management to be open to feedback from employees, and make changes when necessary.

Studies show how these drives affect the brain, which highlights the importance of supporting and activating each one.  Companies with rewards and recognition programs have a huge advantage because these tools are built to activate all four drives. Is your company leveraging the latest research in its programs?"

IRF.com: Translating the Neuroscience of Behavioral Economics into Employee Engagement. May 25, 2017.

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