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  • The Heart of Recruiting: A New Understanding of Motivation

    April 17, 2013 | By Sue Keever Watts

    Organizational Structure
    Four recruiters discuss what motivates job candidates.

    TAGS: best practices, compensation, branding and marketing, leadership

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Edward Deci and Richard Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory is a study of motivation proposing that humans have a basic need for three things: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. When these needs are fulfilled among your employees, your company will see the greatest forms of motivation, performance, persistence, and creativity. On the other hand, when any of these needs are hindered or blocked, your company will experience the opposite effect.

    This theory is supported by many research studies over the past 20 years, including work by Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association who founded the positive psychology movement. Seligman’s study found that there are three components of happiness: pleasure, engagement (in-depth involvement with work, romance, or hobbies), and meaning (using one’s personal strengths to serve some larger end).

    The least consequential of these three things is pleasure, which is interesting since corporate rewards are built around “pleasure” when, in fact, engagement and meaning has much more importance.

    Daniel Pink has done a tremendous job of applying this new understanding to the workplace in his book, Drive. He explains how the old model of rewards and punishment no longer work, and how companies that nurture the human need for autonomy, mastery, and purpose have seen remarkable results.

    I encourage you to use this information to influence how your company designs compensation and benefits for the new wave of talent. If you want a seat at the executive table, then bring value to leadership. New thinking, new strategies, and new ways of attracting and retaining talent are of utmost importance to the success of your company. Don’t sit back. Reach out and educate leadership.

    In the meantime, make certain that you address each of the three needs identified by Pink as you present your company’s offerings to students:

    • Autonomy—In what ways does your company give employees the freedom to determine how they get work done and with whom they work?
    • Mastery—In what ways does your company help its employees continue to master their areas of expertise?
    • Purpose—In what ways does working for your company provide employees with a sense of meaning, purpose, or connection to something greater than themselves?

    Author Photo

    Sue Keever Watts is founder and president of the Keever Group.