Wealth Management Master Impact: Cracking the employee (motivation) code

Wealth Management Master Impact: Cracking the employee (motivation) code

Fri May 12 08:35:50 CEST 2017

Impact story: Edgar, alumnus (class 1) of the WM Master Program in collaboration with UBS


We want to realize your full potential. For the Master Thesis, we ask Wealth Management Master participants to step back from their daily activities, research a relevant business challenge and work out genuine solutions to turn the challenge into opportunity.


Tackling the challenge at its roots. When looking at employee surveys, they show a clear picture of people's pain points, as well as indicating low scores of employee motivation, culture and climate. As employee motivation and healthy culture significantly impact sustainable corporate success, Edgar wanted to better understand the drivers underlying employee motivation and corporate culture to improve the situation in a credible way.  


You are in control. Edgar researched and read up on academic models proven by empirical research across various industries. One was the self-determination theory, linking one's behavior to self-motivation and self-determination. Simply put, people feel more joy and enrichment when doing an activity on their own accord. Why, you ask? Because people have three basic needs:

  • Competence – they want to shape their destiny and master the outcome;
  • Relatedness – they need to belong to a community to interact and care; and
  • Autonomy – they need to be in harmony with one-self and to have control over one's life.


Cracking the code. If external motivation (incentives) can be internalized and aligned with the needs for competence, relatedness and autonomy, the influence becomes positive. A strong corporate culture can contribute positively to an employee's motivation. But if external motivation (incentives) is not internalized, it tends to lower intrinsic motivation, which is driven by internal rewards. Perhaps, this could be illustrated by the ongoing debate of rewarding employee performance with the right bonus pay-off to keep employee engagement and performance high.


Where theory can help practice. Edgar used the academic models to analyze real-life situations and design solutions that could address the people challenges effectively. For the recognition of employee performance and excellence, he reflected on his own experience. A simple 'thank you' seems to make a real difference in reaching employees’ soul. It was not just the 'thank you' per say, but rather the way the message is brought over– genuinely and wholeheartedly.


We can all play a part. Edgar recommends learning more about the mechanics driving human motivation to help improve employee engagement and corporate culture. On an individual level, there are effective people habits, which you and I can master: recognize your colleagues when they have performed strongly.

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