Article | Harvard Business Review

What Really Motivates Workers

by Teresa M. Amabile and Steve J. Kramer


This essay appears in "The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas for 2010," which is compiled by this journal in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The ten problems and the innovative solutions are discussed in each essay. This particular essay describes research demonstrating the importance of daily work progress, even incremental progress, for motivating workers. Additional research showed that managers underestimate the importance of facilitating progress as a motivational tool.

Keywords: Problems and Challenges; Innovation and Invention; Research; Performance Improvement; Managerial Roles; Motivation and Incentives; Creativity;


Amabile, Teresa M., and Steve J. Kramer. "What Really Motivates Workers." Harvard Business Review 88, nos. 1/2 (January–February 2010): 44–45. (#1 in Breakthrough Ideas for 2010.)