- How do you place a value on happiness?
- What’s the return on investment of being motivated?
- And can you inspire people through purely extrinsic rewards (e.g. bonuses)?
Research shows that bonuses tend only to motivate those employees tasked with very simple, manual activities. For cognitive, complicated and creative jobs, big bonuses actually have an adverse effect on performance.
Meaning, setting high bonuses and huge salaries can cause people to slack off, to pull back and rest on their laurels. Meaning, setting high bonuses may not be the way to motivate your people.
Give people success on a plate and they won’t feel the need to work hard to earn it.
Give people money to recognise performance and they won’t feel the need to change their behaviour.
As an individual, what’s your preference? From my own experience a bonus is a lovely surprise at the end of the year but is by no means the driving force behind my own behaviour change throughout.
However, I wouldn’t want to claim that money isn’t important at all. It is vital. Particularly in later life, as people start wanting to get mortgages, pay for weddings, raise children and retire comfortably. When ‘real life’ takes over, having enough money can be seen as a necessity.
And for sales roles and similar, commission structures are absolutely the right thing to drive performance. This research shouldn’t be over-generalised across roles and organisations; it’s simply an interesting lens through which to look at human performance, motivation and what drives people to succeed.
So when is enough truly enough?
Aren’t we always after a little bit more? And when we get there, are we truly satisfied or are we wondering about the next step, the next pay rise, the next bonus?
The Hedonistic cycle describes our desire (as humans) to constantly move on, step up and improve our status. But as Psychology Professor Lyubomirsky reveals in her line of research, we’re constantly getting it wrong.
We want a bigger house/ better car/ new partner/ more material goods. We get them. And then we’re quickly dissatisfied again. We adapt to the new situation and then want even more. We never stop to think about what will actually make us happy. So we keep looking for it in the same way.
What does all this mean?
For me, it demonstrates the true nature of the human condition and the fact that whilst we may strive for commercial success and material possessions, the ‘real’ things in life are the ones that bring us lasting joy and satisfaction.
These are just some of the things that touch our hearts and inspire our minds. These are just some of the things that keep us striving to achieve, deliver and thrive beyond the constraints of the traditional 9-5 job. And these are the things to tap into if you want to truly motivate your team.
Lasting question: If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do every day?
If you didn’t need to work for money alone, what would you give to the world and how would you keep yourself motivated, inspired and achieving great things?