From compensation to motivation

Motivational theories like those of Maslow and Hertzberg also follow the pattern from practical needs to experience. What they have in common is the idea that if you don’t have enough of the basics you will do what you can to fulfil these needs – shelter, food, enough salary to pay the rent. When the basic needs are fulfilled, social factors and experiences become more important, not as a linear result but because you are able to pay attention.

And as Herzberg claims, when the hygiene factors like salary are on a decent level people will be only momentarily happier if you increase them – instead you should focus on the motivators, what really makes people go to work, for example meaning, appreciation and good social spirit.

In practice, managers often find that when employees are upset and frustrated, asking for more salary, it’s often more than enough just to talk to them and listen.

Stockholm bus struggling in the snow

SL, Stockholm’s public transport, recently had enormous problems keeping up their services when the winter weather got extreme. Now they will compensate travelers with a reduced price on the monthly tickets, for a couple of months.

That is fine. Monetary compensations are easy to administrate and measure. Instead of wasting resources on evaluating each case, you compensate everyone. But my first reaction is actually that shouldn’t they invest in a better service instead? And how many days will people be happy with that discount?

My suggestion would be to invest in the service. Buy a monster machine that keeps the rails clean from ice and leaves, and show it to us!

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