Recently I was invited to a PM cracker barrel in the „Innovation Factory“ of a big company. They told us there what it needs today to attract young and qualified employees: top salaries, open space locations, quiet and meeting zones, football and billiard table, kitchenettes with scene beverages and 10+ tea flavors, fresh fruits, twice a week mobile massages at the desk, gym in the basement, and many things more. A real wellness oasis for creative ideas. And certainly not cheap. But is this really effective or a critical factor?
In my projects I meet a lot of young people, and I repeatedly learn, what they appreciate and are motivated by to stay and give their very best. It’s not the over-average money. Already in 1959 Frederik Herzberg postulated that, besides some other aspects in work environment, to be a secondary “hygiene factor” in his Two Factors Theory. Already then he suggested that rather performance experience, recognition, work content, responsibility, and a feeling of growth take effect as “motivators” if the “hygiene factors” are perceived as being reasonable. I guess that was received quite scandalous in that rather authoritarian and hierarchic world of work at that time. And it surely doesn’t apply to all people, because then life in administrations and offices must be sickening…
What was a theory in those times I experience as proved with the Millenniums, Generation X and Y people in my projects today. Money only means freedom and autonomy to them, fit to finance their life style. It’s rather the wish to work self-responsible with only a few lead and directives, to try new ways and to learn, to do sophisticated things instead of boring routines, to receive feedback and acknowledgement etc. that motivates and ties them to their company. So forget about all the gimmicks !?
Fortunately the „Innovation Factory“ also has real motivators in its repertoire besides all the expensive hygiene factors: by a majority agile projects where they work in self-organized teams with modern approaches such as Scrum, UX, Design Thinking etc.
So it’s only the leadership style of the management level that matters to perceive the working place as being attractive and making the project results outstanding? I would say yes and no, because even with outdated leading by directives, order and control being no longer en vogue, most colleagues still also look for some certitude and guidance – if this comes from competent leaders with ground touch and is set an example authentically.