Compensation and Employee Motivation

A majority of human resources professionals appear to believe that employees are likely to over-report the importance of pay in employee surveys. However, research suggests the opposite is actually true. We review evidence showing the discrepancies between what people say and do with respect to pay. We then discuss why pay is likely to be such an important general motivator, as well as a variety of reasons why managers might underestimate its importance. We note that pay is not equally important in all situations or to all individuals, and identify circumstances under which pay is likely to be more (or less) important to employees.

Some employees are motivated by money. In fact, most are motivated by money; at least for their basic needs. Employee motivation through compensation can come in the form of raises, performance bonuses, commissions, profit sharing, or any number of “extra benefits” like, automobiles, vacations, or other tangible items purchased and used as rewards.

I noticed an interesting program in a hotel where I recently stayed. They have a sophisticated system for rewarding employees based on customer feedback. Throughout the hotel, they have placed customer feedback forms and boxes for depositing the forms. When customers comment on the performance of a hotel employee, the employee accumulates points that can be used to purchase rewards like trips, gifts, and other incentives.

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