An inspirational poster of a kitten clinging to a ball of yarn that reads "Hang in There" probably won't motivate employees to forge happily onward. Many times, people need something more concrete to drive them to achieve. Even if someone's job entails punching out widgets on an assembly line, he or she should know how many widgets to make in a day and the measure of quality the company expects.
Likewise, while mangers must grant their employees a degree of independence over their tasks, they should also set clear-cut goals. Psychologists agree that people work their best and hardest when endeavoring to meet a specific, challenging goal [source: Macey et al]. Definable goals also give employees a roadmap to chart their progress and determine the resources needed to accomplish them down the line.
More importantly, setting goals infuses daily work with a sense of purpose. Happier workers consider their jobs meaningful, not aimless. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta found that people who focused on the meaningfulness of their jobs exhibited a 60 percent drop in absenteeism and a 75 percent reduction in turnover [source: University of Alberta]. Invest a little time in goal-setting and reap the bountiful returns.