Organisation & Transformation in the Digital Age
5 Feb 2014 457 hits

SCARF... What do your employees crave?

Do you know how to reward your employees??

We do not all look for the same reward while we work. And when for some money seems to be the ultimate motivator, for others it is a subtle mix of different types of rewards. Dr. David Rock imagined a model built on three simple ideas: 

  • The brain treats many social threats and rewards with the same intensity as physical threats and rewards 
  • The capacity to make decisions, solve problems and collaborate with others is generally reduced by a threat response and increased under a reward response 
  • The threat response is more intense and more common and often needs to be carefully minimized in social interactions.

The main idea is that in many work occurences, our brain reacts pretty much in the same way as it does when facing a reward or a threat. And it also sets in motion its automated response to those situations.

The model defines 5 types of rewards/threats.

Statusoriented employees can be motivated by a possible title change, or having their name attached to more important projects.

Certainty-oriented employees are motivated simply by the reassurance that their job is important and they are excelling.

Autonomy-oriented employees may need the ability to work from home, or simply slip on their head phones to tune everyone else out.

Relatedness-oriented employees are energized by opportunities to socialize with their coworkers — happy hours, softball games, etc.

Fairness-oriented employees want to know the playing field is even, and they aren’t being exploited or cheated. They need to hear it consistently.

This model can be effectively used for conflict resolution. Because often we are engaged in conflictuous relationships with our co-workers that are based on the type of reward we seek and the threats we perceive. Working in a team where you are the only person needing status or autonomy can lead the whole team to fail because of internal tensions: it is not easy to be working with different motivational factors, and different threats perception.

Do you know what your employees are looking for? What do they fear most? Efficiently addressing those questions might help the team as a whole becomemore efficient and driven.


Marciano Alves


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