Money, Motivation and Common Sense

Here I am again, considering extrinsic rewards and their effect on motivation.

Recently I was told that it is obvious that if a person is given more money to do their job, that they will do it better and probably enjoy it more. I stopped myself quoting Deci or Pink, I smiled, politely disagreed and went on with my day. However, it got me thinking. Ignoring the research, I was wondering, what does common sense tell us about that statement.

  1. I am unhappy in my job, will I be happier if I am given more money?
    1. If I am unhappy because I am not paid enough, then yes – I will become happier if given more money. This will most likely lead to me being more motivated and engaged.
    2. If I am unhappy for other reasons, then no – more money won’t help!
  2. I am not engaged by the job, will this improve with more money
    1. No. There is obviously something else wrong here. If the role is not engaging me, then you can throw all the money in the world at me, it will not make the role more engaging. It may make me happier in the short term, but long term I will still not be engaged or motivated by the role itself.
  3. I am engaged and happy, will giving me more money make me work harder.
    1. If money is a concern for me, if it is on my mind a lot – then yes, that is quite likely.  This is because it will be one less thing on my mind to distract me from doing my best work.
    2. If money is not a concern for me, then money won’t really have much of an impact!

Very unscientific of course, but it makes sense to me.  Money is part of the most basic needs in a modern world, it is part of survival.  If you don’t have enough of it to cover your needs, it will be a concern for you and will potentially affect the way you are working. However, if you are not engaged in the job, maybe it is a deeper problem, either the job is not right for you or you are not right for the job.

Now then, if something as tangible and essential as money is so unlikely to motivate you, how can traditional Points, Badges and Leaderboard style gamification motivate you?

Try harder, look deeper, consider RAMP, cover basic needs  – then look at how the more “shiny” aspects of gamification can complement this foundation.

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