While I was just browsing through some books in a book sale in a mall, I just found one that caught my eyes. It made sense just with the title: Punished by Rewards – the trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A’s, praise, and other bribes. Before I get into it and start finding out new ideas, I would like to put my initial perception. I have been working for 4 years now, and I have seen different styles of boosting up employees to work. Promotions, incentives, and bonuses come handy when boosting productivity. This entry would focus more so on work settings.
The question comes in then: does incentivising really work?
The idea seems simple, ideal, and commonly practiced, and so people have just accepted it as it is without examining if there is any implication. To most, for as long as they get paid fairly enough, it’s good enough. As the prelude of the books goes, people never wondered why motivation declines as incentives are prolonged. Thus, the solution is to vary these incentives as time goes by. The idea is still there that to work is simply to earn and gain.
One time, in one of my classes in graduate school, during my first report, I posted the question “what makes a job a job” in relation to job analysis procedures. I couldn’t figure out what makes one a job as it’s rather relative and open to interpretation. But then I thought for this blog that it might make sense if I ask the same question. Do the compensation, benefits, and incentives make the job? What is a job anyway? And then I just got a hint of what the book may actually be.
By conditioning people to do things on the motivation of an external factor won’t be of much help. Why? Simple. Just as any logical, thinking human would put it, the essence of working is diverted to earning, and that’s the ultimate goal. The work comes secondary. That’s how things are played around in any work setting. People just work and anticipate for the pay day. I’ve noticed this often times that there is elation and festivity in the air, that feel when there is an out-of-town vacation awaiting just as pay day comes. But the moment days drag along, the energy goes down. Usual? Of course, it is. Good? Let me put it more simply.
To work is to understand the job. To understand the job it to know exactly what to do and what to aim for. To fulfill something at work, one ought to embrace the job, love it, establish with it as though it were one’s own, and make it one’s craft. Consider dancing or choreographing. It takes passion to be a dancer or a teacher of dance. Though pay must be held important, it doesn’t go on top of the craft of dancing. There is no anticipation of the end of shift or dance lesson. There may actually be pro bono moments even.
I have worked as a part time writer back then. And for every write-up I submitted would be justified by my salary. One can only imagine how it was like to write under pressure and on a deadline. At some point, I thought I hated writing. And since it was valued for some external exchange, my passion declined as well. Also, I started working as an online English teacher right after college. I have always loved teaching. I never minded the pay until I realized I’ve gotten several pay raises. I got incentives for being awarded best instructor. And then I started getting tired. I lost it, the gusto to teach. It was as though for every Korean student I taught was a price to my salary twice every month.
Now, what’s the problem here? That I will further figure out with the book. But basically, the idea of setting aside the essence of the job and letting go of what it’s making it a job in the first place for some external reward primarily tires people. Conditioning is an immediate means considering that companies couldn’t make everyone homogeneous in all aspects of dealing with work life. But work itself is the craft, it should be the ultimate end before the salary that comes regularly.