Prior research demonstrates that work motivation and performance are linked. However, we know less about how motivation and performance fluctuate on a day-to-day basis over the course of the workweek. The workweek is a salient timeframe to consider because that is the traditional cycle of how employees typically operate: they work Monday through Friday and spend the weekend relaxing and preparing for the week ahead.
Researchers in this study (Dust et al., 2021) examined how mindfulness affects motivation and performance over the course of the workweek. Mindfulness means being attentive and aware of the present moment, rather than doing something subconsciously or just going through the motions.
Researchers surveyed 165 employees of a medical device sales company in China. First, they found that over the course of the workweek, there was a downward trajectory of both motivation and employee performance. Second, as mindfulness increased, motivation and performance were less likely to decline over the course of the workweek.
Finally, the researchers found that the relationship between low mindfulness and downward trajectory of motivation and performance was significant only when job demands were high, not low. In other words, if job demands are low, then the issue of declining motivation is not as prominent. This is because there may be fewer distractions or disruptions in the first place.
The authors suspect that the downward weekly trajectories of motivation and performance are linked to typical weekly patterns in the workplace (e.g., important meetings on Mondays to set goals for the week, casual Fridays followed by happy hours). Therefore, the authors suggest that disturbing the typical weekly patterns could help keep motivation and performance consistent throughout the week. For example, organizations may consider having happy hours on Thursdays and staff meetings on Fridays.
Additionally, given that mindfulness was associated with more consistent motivation and performance throughout the week, the authors also suggest that organizations provide mindfulness training for employees. Again, they note that this is more important where job demands are high.
Dust, S. B., Liu, H., Wang, S., & Reina, C. S. (2021). The effect of mindfulness and job demands on motivation and performance trajectories across the workweek: An entrainment theory perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication.