Using Curiosity to Motivate Employees

Everyone relies on motivation to get through the work day. When the 2 p.m. slump comes around, a cup of coffee isn't always enough to finish the remaining three hours. For this reason, boosting employee motivation is important for businesses. New research published in the journal Neuron sheds some light on a tool that improves intrinsic motivation: curiosity. According to the study, curiosity can improve learning outcomes and memory, so it's an effective tool for training programs. You can use this information to help your employees learn new skills.

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The magic of curiosity

Researchers from the University of California at Davis gathered 19 volunteers to assess the physical effects of curiosity on the brain. Each participant was hooked into a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine and researchers captured photos of areas of the brain that lit up when highly active. The participants looked at a trivia questionnaire that included inquiries like "What year did the Beatles sing 'Hey Jude?'" Then, volunteers ranked each question based on how curious they were about the answer.

The MRI showed that when subjects were curious, the parts of their brains associated with reward and pleasure lit up. Additionally, the area associated with memory creation, the hippocampus, ignited as well. Once the MRIs showed that the volunteers were curious, the researchers had them perform a task that did not involve a subject about which they were curious.

After all the observation, participants took a quiz to see how much they recalled. They took the same quiz one day later. The results showed that when participants were curious, they had the best learning outcomes, even if they were learning about a subject they found uninteresting.

Harnessing curiosity

Training tasks may not sound interesting, but they can be. Prime employees prior to training by launching the program with a fun topic. Many of ej4's eLearning videos employ this tactic. Though presenting information related to work, the videos are relatable and light. They open by noting something most people can relate to, which will hopefully help turn on your employees' curiosity.

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