The 4 day work week is gaining traction in the business world – and for good reason. Studies have shown that businesses who implement a 4-day workweek are reaping the benefits of greater employee productivity, engagement, and contentment.
But what if you’re a leader who doesn’t have the option of joining the 4-day work week movement, yet? You can still implement new strategies & processes that will optimise both people and business outcomes by utilising the science of motivation on that ‘fifth day.’
You can tap into the power of AUTONOMY to drive both motivation and creativity in your workplace!
You see psychologists Edward Deci & Richard Ryan discovered that different types of motivation produce different results. In a series of experiments, they pitted intrinsic drivers such as passion and purpose against extrinsic drivers such as prestige and quickly discovered that intrinsic motivation (a term now synonymous with drive) is MUCH more effective than extrinsic motivation in every situation, excluding those where our basic human needs haven’t been met.
But they also discovered a critical division between “controlled motivation” a type of extrinsic motivation, and “autonomous motivation” a form of intrinsic motivation. If you’re being seduced, coerced or otherwise pressured into doing something, that’s controlled motivation. It’s a job you have to do. Autonomous motivation is the opposite. It means you’re doing whatever you’re doing by choice. Deci & Ryan discovered that in every situation autonomous motivation throttles controlled motivation. In fact, in many situations, controlled motivation doesn’t actually produce the desired results. When pressured into action, people routinely look for shortcuts. According to Deci & Ryan, we’re tapping autonomy as a motivator correctly when we’re doing what we’re doing because of “interest and enjoyment” or because it aligns with our core beliefs & values.
Significantly, autonomous motivation also turns us into a much more effective version of ourselves. The boost in neurochemistry provided by this autonomy increases our drive of course, but it also amplifies a host of additional skills..we’re more focused, productive, optimistic, resilient, creative & healthy.
Since 2008, Google has tapped “autonomy” as a motivation driver with its “20% time” policy, where Google engineers get to spend 20% of their time pursuing projects of their own creation, ones that align with their own core values, passion and purpose. And this experiment has produced incredible results. Over 50% of Google’s largest revenue-generating products have come out of 20% time. Including AdSense, Gmail, Google Maps, Google News, Google Earth and Gmail Labs.
But it wasn’t Google who invented this practice. They actually borrowed it from 3M whose own 15% rule dates back to 1948. In the case of 3M, engineers get to spend 15% of their time pursuing projects of their own devising. For a company with a research budget of over $ 1 billion, allowing employees the freedom to experiment with 15% of that amounts to an annual $ 150 million bet on autonomy. As with Google, the products that have emerged from 3Ms 15% rule have more than covered this bet. Post-it Notes originated from 15% time back in 1974. This one product consistently generates over 1 billion a year in revenue, annually putting them $50 million in the black, which is quite an upside for 3Ms investment in autonomy as a psychological driver.
It’s for this reason that today Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, and dozens of other companies have instituted autonomy programs of their own. Google taps the autonomy driver with 20% time yet 3M gets amazing results with just 15% which is only about an afternoon a week.
And you don’t need to be an engineer or even working with engineers to understand and harness the immense power of this psychological driver. If you’re a leader, who has invested in bringing to conscious awareness the values, strengths & purpose of team members, now give them some autonomy in how they can better complete their work & improve their environments and work processes to maximise these. Giving your people licence to use even part of that ‘fifth’ workday autonomously can be enough to see innovative new products and processes emerge.
If your organisation hasn’t yet joined the 4-day work week, allowing your people to use that fifth day more consciously and with greater autonomy can help you reap the benefits of increased employee productivity, engagement, and contentment too.