It was back in the 50’s the world was introduced to the Two Factor theory of motivation first coined by Federick Herzberg. His research presented two key findings:

  • Hygiene Factors – External forces that influence disappointment if removed
  • Motivators – This is intrinsic factors that accompany the job 

Now back in the present time and thanks to revolutionary advancements in understanding the brain, we are able to add a much deeper level of scope to Herzberg’s original theory.

where the study of motivation was once just theory written on pen and parchment, has now be analysed on a deeper level thanks to the advancements in neuroscience where now the possibilities are truly unfathomable.

Looking into employee engagement there is a myriad of amazing books, authors and reports from across the globe. However, a go-to report, one that only gets better and better as you read it is from Kimberly Schaufenbuel – “Motivation on the Brain” In which she used Neuroscience as a means of analysing motivation within the workplace. 

The outcome of the study found 4 key principles that motivate us during the 9-5 office hours. These are: 

  • Drive to Defend – In a work environment this is when you are feeling vulnerable with a distinct lack of feedback to aid you in your daily progression.
  • Drive to Acquire – This is when we as employees strive for that gratification, this can come in the form of rewards or recognition from your manager
  • Drive to Bond – It’s a no brainer that as humans we are naturally sociable, therefore within a work environment it is crucial to have a strong corporate culture that aligns with the values and ethos of the employee.
  • Drive to Learn – This is where we aim to be within a working environment that supports the freedom of shared knowledge as well as rewarding our creativity

1. Drive to Defend

 The human brain finds it particularly difficult to interpret the difference between social pain and physical pain, In other words, if there are clear inconsistencies and delay in the time it takes you to give feedback, an employee can interpret this as a social attack resulting in a defensive barrier. 

What should you do? 

Employers should think about implementing a continuous feedback loop. Maybe scheduling a bi-monthly meeting with each employee. The impact of this is that it allows staff to feel they are being heard and that a line of open communication and listening will make for a much more engaged workforce.

2. Drive to Aquire

A pay rise is a good way of rewarding employees, there’s no doubting that at all, even the science shows it to be true. However,this is debated by some managerial roles who state that granting pay rises is just a temporary fix for what can be quite a large problem if not addressed properly.

What should I do? 

Digital employee reward technology rewards staff with ‘points’ that in turn can be exchanged for tangible and intangible goods. Countless studies show that organisations that have implemented such technology see a clear improvement in both staff retention and employee productivity. 

Furthermore, this is supported by the 30-year-old research presented by Wolfram Schultreward who stated that providing these ‘gift triggers’ produces a sudden release of Dopamine into the employee’s brain. 

3. Drive to Bond

Set aside a short moment to watch this TEDx talk by Matt Lieberman. Now that you’ve watched it you’ll know that the biggest take away is when he said “Social is not one of our programs. It is our basic operating system.”

What should I do?

Employers should nurturer social stimuli within the working environment. Simple examples such as a fifteen-minute tea break every Wednesday or a day that best fits your corporate culture can pay dividends when it comes to employee engagement.

4. Drive to Learn

Creating a meaningful working environment should be at the forefront of an organisation’s culture if it isn’t already then there’s something very wrong with their managerial style.

What should I do?

Similar to the discussion in ‘Drive to Aquire’, implementing positive feedback loops that reward employees will ensure open communication and employee engagement. If employers add into the mix a work based environment that celebrates creativity and aligns strategies focused on the human motivational drivers it’s a sure-fire winner when it comes to employee engagement.  

Do you know of any other scientific facts that coincide with employee engagement?