On motivation: purpose and hybrid working

On motivation: purpose and hybrid working Actuary and author Jenny Segal previews her IFoA Conference 2023 presentation on the challenges and opportunities of the new post-pandemic world of work

When we are motivated, work is not work – it is effortless. We are in the flow, doing something we love, producing our best, unaware that time is passing. Creative, productive and able to excel. Surely it is in our best interests to harness this, by fostering a work environment that maximises our motivation?

Culture and leadership have a huge impact on our motivation at work. We all know good management and leadership when we see it. And we love it. We crave it. It makes a huge difference to us: how we feel about ourselves, and how motivated, productive and happy we are in the workplace. Like our favourite teachers at school, our outstanding managers stay with us throughout our working lives, influencing and shaping our attitudes to work for our entire careers, setting the gold standard for our own behaviours as managers.

Yet too many managers are guilty of micromanagement and its inevitable consequence, presenteeism. A disease which causes so much unnecessary stress and wastes so much of our time and creative energy, as we worry away about being delayed on our commute or having to leave early to manage our home responsibilities. And to what end? All it does is result in misery and detract from our ability to focus on doing our job.

But a cure has been offered up from an unexpected quarter, from a different disease. Covid and its lockdown response have caused immeasurable suffering and harm which will reverberate down through future generations: deaths, illness, delays to diagnoses, mental distress, disrupted supply chains, economic hardship. But by shattering our working patterns, we have had flexibility thrust upon us, forcing us to reassess fundamentally how we want to work.

So how do we adapt our ways of working to preserve culture and to allow fantastic management to thrive in a hybrid world? Like many things, fixing the problem is simple, but not easy. It is both an art and a new science, and future workologists will look back at this period of enforced change as a cauldron of workplace inventiveness. We are pioneers, exploring and forging a new path. And this is so important: by understanding what truly motivates us as human beings, and by implementing a thoughtful, intentional approach to hybrid working, we can build a fantastic workplace future.

The world has changed. So must we.

Learn more at the IFoA Conference 2023

Jenny is the author of On Motivation: Building Better Workplace Cultures and On Motivation: Purpose & Hybrid Working. Don’t miss her at the IFoA Conference 2023 on Tuesday 27 June at 13:40. Book your place to the IFoA Conference now.

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