What is it about?

We tested if changing the specific words in a motivational e-mail sent by the CEO to company employees could improve their job performance over an entire work week. We found that when the CEO included 12 achievement words in a 100 word e-mail, employee job performance improved, on average, over the entire 5-day work week.

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Why is it important?

Companies spend thousands of dollars on rewards and training programs to boost employee motivation. In this paper, we tested if similar performance gains could result from simply altering the words sent in an email from the CEO to employees. The positive effect of achievement words shows that work motivation and job performance can be improved simply by altering language.


This is the first field study in a for-profit business organization to show that priming achievement goals is possible by altering the language in emails.

Kayla Sergent
Edgewood College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Prime and Performance: Can a CEO Motivate Employees Without Their Awareness?, Journal of Business and Psychology, November 2018, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s10869-018-9598-x.
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