Rethinking Employee Motivation and Rewards - Blog Header Image
Jon Alarcon

Jon Alarcon

Rethinking Employee Motivation and Rewards

There’s an epidemic in America that’s at the very root of employee disengagement and underperformance. It transcends the workplace and spills into most aspects of everyday life… it’s the lack of truly happy people.

In a recent national survey, only 20% of people said they were “very happy”, and more than half of people would consider leaving their jobs for just a little more money.

So how do companies address this challenge? After all, an unhappy person is an unhappy and unproductive employee, which negatively affects the business. Happy and engaged employees drive tremendous business outcomes:

business outcomes of engaged employees


(Source: Gallup)

Employers started with gold watches and casual Fridays, then tried gift cards and Pizza Party happy hours, but those all fell short. Eventually companies became desperate and started throwing as many perks and benefits as possible at employees, hoping that something would stick and employees would stay longer and work harder.

More savvy organizations began to emphasize culture and focus on engagement as a means of addressing the root problem. If we can’t pay more, and can’t offer as much as other companies, at least we can be a comfortable and cool place to work, right?

But again, many organizations showed their true colors during the Covid pandemic. While many organizations recorded record profits (link to article), millions of humans died globally, companies downsized, and the cracks in the “family” culture shone through.

With the tide out, companies now had nowhere else to hide. For many employers, any remaining trust between employers and employees had eroded, and a “new normal” emerged. A remote and disconnected workforce made it harder for companies to control culture and conversation, so they dug a deeper hole by turning to monitoring tools and further restricting employees.

As unemployment and burnout soared, The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, and other similar buzzwords emerged. The curtain was finally pulled back, and employees globally (and especially in the US) finally felt the root problem:

There is an inherent conflict of interest in the workplace. It is in the best interest of profit motivated employers to limit costs (i.e. their people) and demand employees do more with less, requiring employees to protect themselves from overreaching employers and  unrealistic demands.

For too long, our culture has placed an unhealthy emphasis on work. The ideal of “finding your dream job” is a common trope that seems to imply that working at a company you love is a requirement for happiness. But the tides are turning, and all for the better.

Most companies are just too focused on their own goals to even consider helping their people in accomplishing theirs. Current corporate culture ignores the fact that happiness and motivation are the most important factors in performance. It’s your people’s personal passions and dreams that have the power to inspire their best work, yet ironically employers often prevent employees from pursuing these things at the behest of company priorities.

So back to the core problem… how can companies, and their people, break the cycle of unhappiness in the workplace?

Because of the inherent conflict, it takes a third party to intervene. A party that has both party’s best interest in mind.

That’s where Worklyfe comes in.

Organizations MUST prioritize what matters to their people.

And employees must strive to do their best work.

By linking personal goals with company goals, something powerful happens. Motivation and loyalty are unlocked in the most authentic way.

Personal goals and dreams become a powerful motivator. People find new meaning in their everyday work. Their focus tightens as they, and their company, intentionally set aside money to eventually realize their dreams. They feel valued as individuals, as leaders acknowledge and support their life outside of work. Managers personalize  their approach and have real insight into what matters to their people, beyond more swag or impersonal incentives.

When you help your team achieve what matters most – whether that’s a trip with their family, furthering their education, writing a book, or buying their first home – you unlock motivation. A type of personal motivation that’s elusive with one-size-fits all perks, rewards, and recognition programs.

Worklyfe really does enable companies to get the best work from their people, because they are helping people live their best lives. It’s simple and highly effective. It’s the future of work.

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