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You aren’t motivating your people with carrot and sticks: 3 ways to drive sustained motivation in hybrid workplaces

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In the new hybrid workplaces, the seemingly small moments mean much more than grand gestures to drive sustained motivation.

While we may be beyond the ‘return to work’ phase, companies are struggling more than ever in how to navigate the new ways of working and to keep people motivated. In a recent NY Times story, the Times dove deep into the ‘hybrid malaise.’ Employees expectations have changed and hybrid work has become the new normal for tens of millions of people in the US alone. But hybrid work is new for most people and, for most companies, it comes with a whole host of new challenges.

In particular, the natural moments of connectivity with colleagues are no longer coming naturally. While it used to be that you might walk into work with colleagues and have a few moments to catch up in the elevator, now you must actively seek out time to simply ‘catch up’. And people switch jobs far more frequently than in decades prior (2.8 year average tenure for millennials vs. 9.9 years for boomers) tying to a lack of connection to their companies and cultures as well.

What are the best ways to strengthen culture, trust, and sustained motivation in every interaction with your colleagues
What are the best ways to strengthen culture, trust, and sustained motivation in every interaction with your colleagues

The ideas that are typically first thought of for solving this connection crisis usually fall into two buckets: (1) offer enticing incentives to get people to meet up in person such as free food and drinks or (2) threaten retribution for not following mandated times to be in the office.

But it’s not about carrots and sticks

While providing opportunities to get people together in person is important, the only way that you are going to reengage people and build for the long-term success of your organization is through sustained cultural change, built by every single interaction with every employee.

It’s about how people are behaving and the choices that they are making every day and in every moment. The happy hours and creative events to get people together have some positive halo effects, but they aren’t building the sustained change that the business desperately needs.

To understand what your business needs, start with the data. In the case of the hybrid work environment, the research shows that success in hybrid work is critically dependent on how well managed people are. Gartner shows that a human-centric, flexible work design is highly successful. It sounds simple, but for many leaders and businesses, it’s easier said than done. Changing the habits and ways of working is not easy and it can be even more difficult when we aren’t face to face. It becomes critical for leaders to become intentional with their practices.

Here are a few ideas to strengthen culture, trust, and sustained motivation in every interaction with your colleagues.

  1. Listen like you mean it. When you are talking to colleagues, focus on the conversation, put down your distractions, ask follow up questions. Then follow up on important conversations later in a way that shows that you listened.
  2. Consider the situation from another angle. Empathy doesn’t always come naturally for everyone. By being intentional about it and reminding yourself to consider the other sides in any situation, you will build a new muscle that opens up to deeper connections and stronger relationships.
  3. Speak with sincerity. Practice Kindness over niceness. Communicate free from pretense, deceit or hypocrisy and practice transparency in every moment.

In the new hybrid workplaces, intentionality is the key to develop feelings of connectivity, to build trust and sustained motivation, and to grow and sustain culture. It will be the aggregate of each and every interaction between people that builds the culture of any organization.

Learn more: www.KindWorks.AI

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Nicole Yelsey


Nicole Yelsey, Co-Founder & COO of KindWorks.AI

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