The Chief Joy Officer and the Keys of Motivation


People are the most important asset of any business. If your people are not motivated, your company will be suffering but if you maximize the potential and the motivation of your people, you maximize the success of your company.

Now questions arise-

  • How do you ensure people in your company are motivated?
  • What does motivate to people?
  • What is HR’s role in motivating the workforce?
  • Why is a motivated workforce important in the first place?

Let’s answer these questions in reverse order.

Why is a motivated workforce important in the first place?

As a business person for over 15 years, I’ve experienced what it’s like to feel demotivated &disengaged at work and I’m sure you can think of a time when that was the case for you too.

The consequences? I did the minimum I could get away with, I had no energy to come up with innovative ideas and I probably negatively influenced those around me with my lethargy.

All of that was clearly not good for me and more importantly, not good for the business.

Gallup’s research shows that as few as one third of our workforce is actively engaged in their work. The cost of this is estimated to be over half a billion $ in the USA alone. There is much other research that shows that there are huge benefits for business when the workforce is truly motivated.

What is HR’s role in motivating the workforce?

It is our job to do two things:

  1. To use data and stories to convince the key business leaders in our organisations that a motivated workforce is not just some altruistic ‘nice to have’. Motivated people drive business results. Full stop.
  2. To enable the business, the managers and the people with tools, frameworks and passion to make a change to the daily environment in our businesses.

I’m assuming that you originally went into HR to make a difference to people’s lives, not simply to manage processes, compliance, payroll etc. Creating the environment for a motivated workforce is where you can make that difference.

So what does motivate people?

By motivation, I refer to intrinsic, not extrinsic motivation*. The kind that comes from your heart and soul.

Let’s put something straight first. Money is not an intrinsic motivator and does not drive long-term business results. Money plays 3 roles:

  1. Hygiene factor: If my pay is not fair compared to my peers, all motivation goes
  2. Compensator: if I don’t feel that I or my work is valued, I want more money to do it
  3. Short term targets: want to focus someone on one short-term goal? Throw some money at them as a bonus. But beware, they will expect it every time and their all-important intrinsic motivation will erode.

So if it’s not money, what is it?

I’ve combined my experience as Chief Joy Officer with the latest research into human psychology to unearth the 4 keys that create that motivation.

  1. I belong” – the sense that I am part of something bigger than myself, that I am part of a tribe, a community that is driving in the same direction for the same purpose
  2. I am seen” – within the tribe, I am recognised and appreciated for my unique contributions to it
  3. It’s my thing” – that sense of autonomy that I own something, an area of responsibility where I get to make the decisions and don’t get over-ruled.
  4. I am growing” – that need to keep on developing & expanding myself as a person and professional.

The first two I see as that which binds us to where we are and what we do. I call these the “Roots”

The last two I see as the harvesting of the efforts of our labour. I call these the “Fruits”.

So you’re looking at the “Roots and Fruits” methodology for motivation at work.

Which one of these is missing in your organisation? Where could you make the biggest difference?

I use this framework in my work as CJO as well as when I support other companies on their quest to create/ rediscover a motivated workforce.

There is also a scientific method and survey behind it to constantly measure, create solutions and deliver sustainable change in the organisation.

How do you ensure people in your company are motivated?

So here’s the million dollar question. We’ve all had employee engagement programs, mantras, etc. with fine ideas and words on posters or training. But nothing changes. Why?

It’s a question that I’ve been learning to answer during my time as Chief Joy Officer. The first couple of years included lots of successes, failures & lessons. And the more companies we work with, the more we’re learning.

Here are my four tips:

  1. Diagnose what the issue with engagement really is, by truly listening to your people
  2. Co-create the ideas with the people

These first two will get your employees wanting to engage with whatever you come up with

  • Put trust in your employees to engage with your initiatives. Don’t define too many rules and policies. If it lives, it will really live and if not … then kill it because it won’t make a difference.
  • Use the ‘F’ word. Fun. If you bring in some light-heartedness and gamification to the initiatives then people will pro-actively choose to engage. Then you all win.

At Loylogic we have used the above principles to:

  • launch an internal workplace App (LoyLife) that connects people with the community and it’s purpose (“I belong”)
  • launch the ‘thanku’ initiative which spreads gratitude and recognition throughout the organisation (“I am seen”)
  • reinvent performance management to put people in the driver’s seat of their own growth, not just look at ratings (“It’s my thing”, “I am growing”)
  • rename HR to the People Experience department, because that is what it should really be about
  • ..and much more

You now know the keys to driving real change in your organisation that improves people’s lives AND drives the business forwards. This is what HR should really be all about.

Ref- for more info on this I suggest watching/ reading Dan Pink

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Max Hunter has been Chief Joy Officer on the Executive Management Team of Loylogic for 3 years now. Loylogic is an online loyalty reward company, based in 7 different countries. Over two thirds of Loylogic’s employees are based in Pune, Maharashtra and Max visits the office regularly. Max’s only responsibility is to ensure that Loylogic is a great place to work, where employees wake up on a Monday morning and look forward to going to work. Max received a PhD in Chemistry before embarking on a 15 year business career in marketing and customer data. 4 years ago he changed his path and completed qualifications in Business Coaching and Team Coaching. Max comes from Manchester, England and is a big Manchester United fan and trainer of his 5-year-old son’s football team where he now lives, in Hamburg Germany. He also loves his regular visits to India.


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