Business — 16 October 2018
Will Incentives Make Your Employees Work Harder?

We’ve all been led to believe that incentives work. You pay your people more or provide them with commission-based bonuses, and they’ll work harder. Right? That’s what we’ve heard all our lives, and we’ve based most of our business practices on that one solid fact. What if it’s not true? Scientists have been struggling to understand what motivates people for a long time, and they’re getting closer and closer to understanding the answer.

As it turns out, incentivizing work in certain professions will not make them work harder or remain committed to a business’s success. We’ve known this simple fact for years, but even so we keep trying to implement a system that does not work.

Empirical data proves that the carrot and stick method works great for getting people to do minor tasks that can be achieved through simple repetition–and without thought–but it won’t work for employees who are forced to achieve complex ends in order to win a paycheck. It’s like going on a diet. Even though the person on the diet can work hard to achieve a result that can prove personally beneficial, most diets will ultimately fail.

What kind of incentives are we talking about? You think it up, and you’ve got the right idea. Increased vacation time, personal office space, holiday parties, commission, etc.

The reason is simple. When you offer an incentive, you might temporarily change a person’s behavior because you provide a short-lived desire to do something differently. At the end of the day you’ve done nothing to change the attitude that defines a person’s behavior. That means the change is not permanent. In order to inspire a person to do what you want, you have to find a way to create a feeling of commitment.

We know what you’re thinking: great! No more raises! No more commissions! No more benefits! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way either. Not getting a raise we feel deserving of can peeve even the best of us. That can cut motivation in half. But getting a bigger raise won’t necessarily increase a person’s will to work.

What’s the best way to keep employees motivated? Make sure they’re doing what they like. Create a personal connection with your people, and make sure they’re comfortable with what they’re doing and feel a sense of personal progress every single day. That’s the way to win in business. For more information watch the video below or check out this list here.

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Dolores Obrien

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