Motivation and Productivity – 10 great reads

by Staff Writer

Perhaps you've seen the above video before, perhaps you haven't. If you haven't, I highly recommend taking a look. If you have, it's definitely worth a second watch, or a third…

There have been a number of recent studies and philosophies that have challenged the conventional wisdom in regards to what affects motivation and productivity, particularly in the workplace. As a result, managers and team leaders should constantly be reading up on the newest ways to better take on these two challenging problems. Here are 10 great reads on conventional ways to take on employee motivation & productivity.


  1. CEOs and the candle problem – The candle problem is a study that showed when monetary rewards were present, tasks that required (even rudimentary) cognitive skills, performance DECREASED. This article turns it into a (perhaps political) debate about CEO pay (he does have a point.) But nevertheless, it's a very good description of the candle problem and why it's important to remember when trying to use money as a motivator.
  2. Help make your employees days more productive with long nights of sleep. – The truth is simple: sleep promotes productivity, exercise promotes sleep. If you can get your employees to participate in wellness programs and/or promote regular exercise, your staff will be much more productive. Sadly, too few companies even bother.
  3. 10 ways to motivate employees to better performance – This article links to the above video as well and proposes 10 things a company can do to increase the moral of your employees (and thus performance). For anyone who has hated their old boss, it almost reads as a laundry list of complaints; but then again, that probably means it's on the right track.
  4. How to motivate employees – This article is part of a series on increasing employee effectiveness called “how do I get them to execute” The series starts here, and is a relatively hidden gem of the blogosphere. This article covers the consequences and proper use of both positive and negative feedback and hits the nail on the head.
  5. 3 rules to keep your staff motivated – A simple and straightforward article, but unlike the rest, it doesn't leave out upward mobility and the promise of being rewarded for hard work. Money may not be a proper motivator for specific tasks, but that doesn't mean people don't need incentives, goals, and rewards to stay focused.


  1. Top 10 reasons why happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster – A slightly older article, but well worth the read, especially if you're a manager. The comments are a testament to that. Perhaps it's an obvious observation, but the article nails the idea home.
  2. Bring back the 40 hour work week – A great article about productivity beyond 40 hours in a week. It's findings: working overtime may be good for an employee's wallet, but it's a bad deal for the employer. Not only is the pay more, studies have shown productivity also drops. It certainly depends upon what the job is, but if you're a manager interested in maximizing productivity, shorter shifts may well be worth a try.
  3. Things that kill a construction site's productivity – Perhaps this article was written specifically for the construction business, but it certainly doesn't read that way. The things that kill productivity on a construction site are the same things that kill productivity in an office. Read this article as a metaphor for whatever it is you do and it applies perfectly…
  4. 6 ways to kill procrastination and enhance productivity – This article was meant as a self help guide for individuals, but as a manager, productivity isn't something you can simply command. It needs to be nurtured. Use these tips to figure out ways you can empower your team to be more productive. That's the real trick.
  5. Multitasking kills productivity and that’s bad for new business – On the surface, you would think multitasking increases productivity, but studies show that the opposite is often true. This article outlines why we are not wired for multitasking and how to overcome the urge and instead nurture focus.


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