In our modern “shareholder value” focused world of business, where corporations increasingly without hesitation commit drastic layoffs as soon as there is the slightest dip in the quarterly profit curve, how will these corporations secure employee motivation and loyalty in the future ?
Monetary rewards tend only to go so far, their effect tends to be very temporary, and it’s very difficult to “buy” loyalty, respect, “caring” and motivation. Buying these things is as hard as it’s hard to pay someone to respect you, or to love you.
If a “valuable employee” – and in our industry employees are any corporation’s most valuable assets, at least if you listen to the motivational cheer-leading speeches given by CEO’s and HR directors – constantly faces the risk of getting him/herself fired because the next quarter or two does not look like providing the level of profit the street expects, then why should that employee commit him/herself fully to the corporation ? Why should an employee give his/her 100% to an organization that so clearly demonstrates that as soon as the going gets the least bit tough, you’re out ? What happened to perseverence, social responsibility and a long term perspective?
Robert M Pirsig, in his seminal work “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”, defined “quality” as “caring about”, i.e. in order for true quality to exist, to do quality work, you’ll need to care about the work you are doing, the people you are working with, as well as the organization you are working for, and my fear is that the modern corporation that tends to regard its employees as fully interchangeable cogs, replaceable human automations, will find it hard to inspire and motivate its staff to do quality work, i.e. to care. And as soon as employees stop caring, you can count on that all the KPI-numbers that the corporate bean counters care about, such as productivity, efficiency, quality, and ultimately bottom line profit, will start to suffer.