Most of us view work as a kind of economic transaction: people exchange labor for financial compensation. Depending on the job, increased quantity of labor (number of hours) or increased quality of labor (bonus or promotion) results in increased compensation. However, there is an increasing amount of research that shows that we are motivated not so much by money as by our social needs for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness.
While people sometimes use the word ‘family’ to describe their work colleagues, neuroscience research makes it clear that our brains experience the workplace as a social system. Social interactions often decide whether an employee stays at a company; positive reinforcement from our boss or peers can improve our mood for an entire day. In contrast, lack of social interaction with peers and a non-supportive or critical environment are often cited as the primary reasons for leaving a job. (more…)