Throughout my undergraduate career, I always had friends and classmates that I would watch struggle through classes because of a lack of motivation to do the coursework. They are extremely smart individuals, but just could not find it in them to stay on top of things during our four years of undergrad. Like many young adults, they would just rather be a “college kid” and never take things too seriously. Incentives such as earning good grades just don’t do it for everyone. An argument could be made that these individuals may have been more motivated by money if they were to do well in a course, rather than just receiving a good grade. However, recent studies have shown that extrinsic incentives (carrots and sticks as Dan Pink referred to them in his video The puzzle of motivation) , like earning good grades or money, have been leading to poorer performance than intrinsic incentives, such as doing something to enhance theirs or other’s quality of life (for example, feelings accomplished by contributing to something bigger than themselves).
How can that be? Underlying just about everything that we know and have learned about working and business is the notion that money (salary/bonuses) is the number one motivator. So how is it that recent studies have proven, with facts, that this is not necessarily the case anymore?
Due to advancements in technology, tasks and skills that we completed and that were required for many people in their careers have been completely revitalized. As a future auditor, I can specifically say that I couldn’t be happier that audits are no longer performed with a piece of paper (more like thousands of pieces of paper) and pencil, by hand. Thanks to technology, audits are now completed on computers on a variety of operating systems that firms select. This is just one small example of a once very monotonous job that involved much mechanical, uncreative thinking that has changed in the last decade or two due to technological advances. This revitalization has caused many auditor’s (and individuals in other effected fields) jobs to involve more creative thinking and problem solving skills. In turn, these changes are causing individuals to be motivated by means other than money and bonuses, which are said to narrow a persons focus onto that one goal – making money.
So, the question is… Do you think that businesses should concur with these job task changes and re-strategize the way that they incentivize their employees (in situations where tasks have changed – because in some situations, normal money incentives still prove effective)?
I think that strong arguments could be made both ways. On one hand, companies may not want to incur the extra costs of developing and creating a new compensation strategy for employees when they are experiencing what they feel is positive returns from employee work. They may want to take the easy way out and continue things the way that they are. On the other hand, similar companies experiencing what they think is appropriate, positive productivity may not know what they are missing out on, or companies that are experiencing negative productivity may know that they need a change in motivations offered. If these companies were to experiment by motivating their employees through ways that make them feel like they are making meaningful contributions and/or more in control of their time, the studies introduced by Dan Pink (like the candle problem, and the experiment that Dan Ariely completed with a group of MIT students and a group of people in India) suggest that productivity would increase in all areas.
Tying it into our mi621 class… Perhaps social media could play a role in helping management experiment with different motivations. Management groups could follow in the footsteps of Google and several other companies by allowing employees to have time to work on projects unrelated to work, or to work from home (just examples of two general intrinsic incentives that may work). Using social media platforms as a tool, these management groups could more accurately and efficiently track their employees progress from different locations, cutting down on the costs incurred to implement or develop new systems. Social media platforms like Twitter and HootSuite could be utilized by companies, first on a beta tester group of employees, to see if incentivizing individuals by giving them more control over their time would be something that would work for that particular company. And by using social media it does not have to be a costly endeavor for the company.
In closing, I believe that if management motivates its employees through methods that emphasize the importance of the quality of life, they will show their employees that they care and will generally experience more collaboration, creativity, and cooperation from employees – which is something that any management team would want. Developing a way to monitor this through social media would prove to be very advantageous allowing management to monitor their employees on a much greater scale. I believe that social media platforms, like Twitter and Hootsuite mentioned above, have so many untapped resources that could be extremely beneficial to the business world if properly employed and first mover businesses that find different, successful ways to use social media other than as marketing tool will be hugely successful.