Psychology of Ownership – Workplace Motivation, Empowerment: Feelings of Possession, Perception of Influence…

Ownership in the workplace means taking pride in work… Ownership means caring about success of the organization… Ownership means responsibility, accountability, commitment, and placing value on the quality of work… Ownership means you give a damn… Ownership is a feeling of possession, e.g.; it’s– my desk, my workplace, my organization, my project…

The psychology of ownership need not be tied to actual legal ownership, e.g.; an employee may feel that a cubicle at work is theirs, but the actual legal ownership of the cubicle belongs to the organization. According to Helen Campbell Pickford; psychology of ownership is about employee control, responsibility, accountability. According to Atif Aijaz; highest degree of workplace engagement is when employees feel they have real or perceived sense of ownership over ‘something of value’ within the organization…

Management can foster employees sense of ownership by enabling increased autonomy and control over work assignment, information sharing, increase role in decision-making, encouraging creativity. The state of psychology of ownership is not only cognitive, but it’s affective; simply by calling something ‘mine’, suggests an emotional connection to it… Studies show– when employees feel strong sense of ownership, they are more inclined to embrace positive behavior, engagement, attitude, accountability…

In the article Motivating Employees Is Feelings Of Ownership by Robert Bullock writes: Simply increasing the ‘feeling’ of ownership that employees experience– regardless of whether employees have any actual ownership– improves employees engagement, lowers turnover, and increases financial performance… just the feeling of ownership matters a great deal when it came to predicting attitudes and behaviors. In other words, even the most well-conceived stock ownership plan for employees are less likely to succeed in motivating employees, unless it gives employees a greater feelings of ownership towards the– job, organization, customers…

It’s ownership (either, real or perceived) where employees feel as though the organization is part of their self-identity… Many studies have shown how important the feeling of ownership is for employees; and simply changing structure of a job, offering more autonomy, task identity… make a huge difference in employees’ feelings of ownership, which can ripple throughout the organization impacting things such as; productivity and organization’s overall financial performance…

In the article Psychological Ownership and Feelings of Possession by Linn Van Dyne and Jon L. Pierce write: The psychology of possession is core of psychology of ownership. Feelings of possessiveness are ubiquitous, and it can refer to tangible or intangible objects, which can occur based on legal ownership, or absence of legal ownership… People tend to equate ‘feelings of possession’ with ‘feelings of ownership’…

The psychology of possession suggests that feelings of ownership cause people to view tangible and intangible possessions as part of their extended self, i.e.; linking ‘mine’ and ‘me’… According to Sartre; totality of my possessions reflects the totality of my being– I am what I have. Thus feeling of possessions and psychology of ownership becomes linked to concept of ‘self’. According to Beaglehole, Furby; feeling of ownership triggers a sense of being responsible, accountable for an entity…

In the article Ownership and Motivation by Ownership Associates writes: The power of ownership seems to arise from harnessing both financial and non-financial aspects of employee ownership. The data suggest that at its most effective ownership gives employees not just a financial reason to perform, but a reason to belong. One study on the psychology of ownership suggests that cultural and behavioral conceptions of ownership may not coincide explicitly with legalistic conceptions, but they are just as effective…

However it’s not legal definition but ‘living definition’ of ownership that affect employee perceptions of their role, or of the organization… In other words, the primary association with ownership can be any one of a vast array of meanings, e.g.; participation in decision-making, benefit plan, camaraderie, financial payoff… Companies typically use compensation schemes to promote feelings of ownership, or other techniques, such as; increasing employee’s authority at work may be equally likely to elicit a sense of ownership…

On the other hand, there are many organizations that do not expect or want employees to feel like owners. They may want nothing more than ways to motivate employees to be more productive… And they implement various incentive plans, both financial and non-financial, expecting employees to become motivated as a result of these plans. However, in actual practice the implementation of incentives do not necessarily translate into changed motivation or improved productivity. And in the view of many experts– there is nothing that can replace the sense of ownership to motivate employees work performance…  

In the article Accountability and Ownership by Lisa Haneberg writes: Management cannot force ownership to happen but they can create an environment where it’s more likely to flourish… Elements of the ideal environment include: • Challenging work and interesting problems to solve. • Connection to the work, team, organization: Stronger connections are those that bring people together. • A feeling of being cared for: Management that shows they care and make employees feel special will encourage more employee ownership.

• Collaboration and partnership: When people work together to seize an opportunity or solve a problem, they tend to engage and feel more ownership for their work. • Opportunities to grow as a person and in a profession: Employees want to feel like they are expanding skills, staying up-to-date in chosen field. • Autonomy to make choices that affect their work. • A feeling that their work has meaning and is important to organization. • Work and workplaces that are fun, lighthearted…

Management can improve ownership by creating a workplace that is intrinsically motivating; small but sincere gestures of care and concern go a long way toward showing employees how important they are to the organization… When employees take ownership, they treat the organization as their own; they make decisions more thoughtfully, responsibly… They are more driven, motivated, and have more initiative… seeking creative, innovative ways to improve, develop their responsibilities…

Employees who take ownership create a more positive, fulfilling working environment for everyone… In workplaces that achieve workforce of owner-minded employees, often habitually step outside their role for the sake of an organization’s overall objectives. These cultures adapt faster to change and develop innovative ideas that lead to a more sustainable organization…