The surprising truth about what motivates us

24 Aug, 2010

This video says a lot of incredibly interesting stuff about what motivates employees in the workplace. The conclusions it draws are not necessarily what you would expect, particularly when it comes to monetary rewards.

Here are some of the key elements I took away from this talk.

  • Money incentives work well to promote great behavior when the actions are purely motor-driven. That is jobs like hammering nails or cleaning hospital rooms.
  • Cash rewards have opposite and devastating effects when dealing with conceptual and creative tasks, like in my case, developing websites.
  • Top performers are going to perform well when money is taken out of the picture, but money has to be removed in the sense that they are not making so little that they hungry for more, but not making so much that it creates the mental hurdles listed above.
  • Other, more creative incentives need to be considered for top performers to continue to do well. Things like giving them time to build what they want in exchange for results.

About the author


I am an ex-pat Newfoundlander who has uprooted and moved to the big city of Toronto. I develop web applications for work and for fun. I play ultimate and ice hockey year-round and camp every chance my girlfriend will let me.

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