Teleworkers are more motivated by autonomy than bonuses

In an era of shrinking budgets, that’s good news for managers.

Telework has been touted as a means to help managers motivate their employees based on performance rather than the amount of time an employee spends sitting at a desk.

And many of the characteristics that make a good telework manager – such as giving employees the freedom to decide how to accomplish work assignments and providing effective feedback – are key to boosting employee motivation, according to a new report by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

The report, released Monday, found that job characteristics such as autonomy, skill variety and feedback affect employee motivation and performance. MSPB found that employees in jobs with high levels of perceived autonomy are more likely to be motivated and perform at a higher level than employees who believe they have little autonomy.

Perhaps that is why teleworkers in the federal government are reporting a greater sense of empowerment, higher job satisfaction and a greater desire to stay at their current job, according to the Office of Personnel Management’s 2012 telework status report.

Still, with or without the ability to telework, federal employees overall view themselves as motivated, with 71 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing that they “feel highly motivated” in their work. That motivation is not based solely on monetary rewards. More feds rate other areas like personal satisfaction, interesting work, job security and the ability to serve the public as key factors in their motivation.

“Of the eleven rewards that we asked about, eight non-monetary rewards were rated as important by more federal employees than awards and bonuses,” the report states. “This pattern is encouraging, especially given the budget and resource constraints that many federal agencies currently face.”

What keeps you motivated at work? Does telework and the greater job autonomy you have as a result play heavily into your motivation and job satisfaction?