Motivating Workers in an Automated Environment

The automated work environment has been around since the 1800s. We have the industrial revolution to thank for market growth and new markets emerging. Of course, a lot has changed since then. One thing that remains is that routine, control and specialisation are still key within the manual process in achieving efficiency. Autonomous jobs nowadays include factory machine workers and assembly operators, working  repetitive days in a call centre and fast food restaurant staff. Day after day of these kind of situations can result in struggle and sabotage impairing the workers themselves and the rest of the organisation as a knock-on effect.

In these automated environments, efficiency means choosing the best way to reach the means of a given end. A well defined and standardised process that must be followed. Of course this means that customers are able to obtain what they need easily and speedily but for those involved in the workplace, it can be hard to perform this intense and homogenised labour without feeling dehumanised. Often the tasks the workers are performing are simple and do not require a lot of thought. Predictable work to make more or less identical products is likely to be demotivating and cause workers to become, at the very least, very bored.

Motivation Matters

Motivation grows from a combination of needs that influence behaviour. Performance motivation is needed in order to activate skills, experiences, talents and creative energies in order to reach company goals. There is no definitive  technique for developing motivation, as just like everything else in life there is no method that works for everyone in every situation. Instead, attempts at building motivation should be adapted to fit the circumstances.

Motivation can be influenced by personal or situational factors and not only do these vary from person to person but also are likely to alter with changes in personal, social or other factors. As well as this, how much a person feels connected to business objectives.

Why is Low Motivation Common in an Automated Work Environment?

  • Too much routine
  • Lack of development opportunities
  • No challenges

Because of these factors it may team that short term, extrinsic stimulants for motivation may seem like the only option. By extrinsic, we mean money. If you decide that this is the way that you want to go forward, these rewards need to be encouraged in a specific way. Either outline exactly what needs to be done for a bonus to be achieved or introduce rewards independent of specific tasks. Unexpected monetary rewards may also be appreciated.

Motivate through Company Culture

The goals, values, beliefs and assumptions of the organisation lead to structures becoming codified and systems/processes established to guide organisational behaviour. Success and efficiency is then measured as a perception of the organisational climate. To define, climate is the sense of what is important in a company.

Climate is difficult in organisations such as service firms where an automated environment is the basis of the day of many workers. Obviously, particular service providing values must be within the culture of the company. For the company to be successful, the widespread view is that the customers are the most important within the organisation.

Alongside this view, there is some scope to allow workers more accountability and responsibility. With this, may come motivation and also the ability to be accountable and take credit or criticism for workers own actions.

Implementing Positive Company Culture

In a large organisation, there is likely to already be a positive company culture enforced. However, this may not reach those doing necessary automated jobs as they are often separated from the rest of the organisation. All workers do differ and need different types of attention to be motivated to keep up with the speed and efficiency that is needed in an automated environment. Task significance is important to establish. Show employees the link between the work and the customers and this can lead to feelings of meaningfulness.

Responsibility can Increase Motivation

Responsibility is a factor in increasing motivation intrinsically. Four factors can help employees feel more responsible for their own actions:

  • Clarity – By clearly defining job roles and introducing clear objectives with regular, adequate feedback.
  • Task Completion – Often automated work environments don’t allow employees to see the results of a completed product or result. Job responsibilities are fragmented parts of the bigger picture.
  • Task Significance – If the work feels even slightly meaningful and worthwhile it can lead to increased responsibility.
  • Autonomy – By giving workers freedom and independence in scheduling this will help them to feel it is up to them and not somebody else.

Overall, letting workers feel they have responsibility is crucial despite the fact they can little deviate from the standardised methods. If possible, also broaden the specialised work by adding different related tasks to activities that already exist. Most personality styles will appreciate the ability to choose and participate which will increase commitment and motivation. This minimises the feelings of being used by the system. Appreciation breeds positive concepts of the self and meets needs for self actualisation, growth and achievement.

Managing Autonomy

As with any other employees, people in autonomous industries will want to be managed in different ways, according to their working personality style. Some will look to a charismatic, outwardly happy and caring person. Others want and need someone that is a distinct leader, rather than a friend type. Regardless of this, good managers know that relevant  information about the company as a whole needs to be shared with all workers. Likewise, feedback needs to be given not only on performance but on the bigger picture of the organisation so that workers can see their impact and feel appreciated thus more likely to be motivated.


Author Bio:

Laura Morrissey is a writer for Everything Disc. She shares tips for both employers and employees in working to the best of their ability together. Her specialist areas are motivation and team building.