Employees work – and work hard – for various reasons.
Obviously there are contractual reasons – they take the money and have to ‘put in the hours’.
But above and beyond what they are contracted to, most employees put in ‘discretionary effort’ – over and above the minimum, perhaps because they like what they do, perhaps because they like the company, perhaps because they value being a member of the team they belong to.
Our job, clearly, is to maximise this discretionary effort. We have to address the motivational factors that ‘persuade’ them to offer more; we have to give them the skills they need; we have to inform them about why things are important, involve them in key decision-making and respect their views.
Discretionary effort is almost free – we would be stupid not to try and release it.