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Why the Emeritus Scheme Is a Great Example of the Motivation-Hygiene Theory in Action

Listening to Radio 4 yesterday morning, it was great to hear about the NHS piloting new ways of working by implementing the Emeritus scheme. This scheme is designed to allow Consultants to use their experience and expertise in a flexible way as an alternative to retiring, so they can continue doing what they love whist at the same time helping the NHS to clear its backlog and cut waiting lists.


In my conversations with clients, ever more so since the COVID pandemic, it’s been clear that individuals’ motivation and values to do a role are increasingly key factors in both attracting the right individuals to a role and to their ultimate success once in role. The Emeritus scheme introduced by the NHS has also highlighted the importance of removing barriers to allow those individuals still motivated to remain in work to be able to do so and I’m hoping it will be a great success for all of us!


Motivation has always played and continues to play a crucial role in the workplace, influencing individual and collective behaviour, decision-making, and overall organisational culture. It was over 50 years ago that the psychologist Frederick Herzberg was reviewing how to motivate employees and came up with his Motivation-Hygiene Theory which is still very relevant today.


Herzberg theorised that satisfaction had two dimensions “hygiene” and “motivation”. Hygiene factors such as salary, working conditions, and Company and administrative policies themselves could not lead to motivation but could lead to dissatisfaction. However, motivation factors such as recognition, achievement, responsibility and advancement could make workers more productive, creative and committed but only if hygiene factors are appropriately in place.

Hygiene issues are not the source of satisfaction; however, any hygiene issues must be addressed first to create an environment in which employee satisfaction and motivation are even possible. Addressing the question of flexible working, location and allowing Consultants to select the type of work in which they are interested addresses one of these hygiene factors, however, the salary issue remains, certainly for Junior Doctors, so it remains to be seen how this will impact waiting lists in the NHS….


In other sectors, individuals’ motivation may be more difficult to identify. We regularly work with clients to distinguish the individuals with the right motivational fit for a particular role within an organisation, we also conduct engagement surreys which help to identify if there are any hygiene factors that are holding individuals back from reaching their motivated state.


In assessing motivation, we help organisations to predict how well individuals will convert competency into performance by identifying their ideal role and personal drivers from a motivational standpoint. Unlike ability tests, motivational tools don’t measure what someone can do, they measure what an individual will do. Using scientific methodology to discover a person’s deep rooted internal drivers we can match these to a particular role to determine whether that role will give them that ‘buzz’ to work well. We have a number of different motivational tools at our disposal and experience of supporting clients recruiting new individuals and working to establish motivational preferences in existing teams.


We are happy to review and make recommendations for tools or processes that may help to identify what will keep individuals motivated at work. If you’d be interested to find out more just give us a shout.

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