Motivation, Happiness and Engagement

This is the first of a series of posts looking at the interlinked but independent elements of satisfaction, happiness, engagement and motivation. Ideally the members of your team will enjoy all four feelings but this is not always possible or even necessary. A soldier engaged in a pitch battle is unlikely to be ‘happy’ but would certainly be engaged and should be motivated.

Research suggests people have a deep need for Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (the urge to get better and better at something), and Purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves). If your team provides these elements, you are likely to have satisfied and motivated people.

Happiness is different. It would seem happiness is internal, created by the person within themselves. The human mind can synthesize happiness. Shakespeare said it best, of course (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 239–251):
Why, then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

On the engagement front, in November 2010 the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) found in a member’s survey that ‘that negativity, apathy and disillusionment are present in the executive ranks of too many Australian organisations.’ A few of the findings included:

  • 40 per cent of respondents surveyed do not feel appreciated by their employer
  • 20 per cent of participants expressed negative sentiments about working at their current organisation
  • Almost one in three of those surveyed criticised the workplace culture of their organisation
  • 34 per cent of respondents admitted they could be putting more effort into their current role.
  • 33 per cent of those we surveyed said they are considering leaving their employer.

The last piece of the framework is a series of studies in the UK focused on ‘civil servants’ (public servants), the ‘Whitehall Studies’. One key finding is the inverse relationship between coronary heart disease (CHD) and the level of job control. People in highly demanding jobs they could control had half the rate of CHD experienced by people with less control over their work.

Creating an environment where people are engaged motivated and happy has a direct link to their wellbeing as well as delivering your requirements. My next few posts will focus on how to create this win-win situation.


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