When it involves service to employees, many employers believe it is all about incentives, they believe in the basic theory of workplace behavioral physics, which states that: If you reward something you get more of it, and if you punish something you get less of it, this seems quite obvious.
But I came across a study done at M.I.T; they took some individuals and assigned them different tasks, some involving Cognitive skills, and some involving physical mechanical skills and they were to be rewarded according to their results.
The higher their results the higher the incentives, it was observed that the more you rewarded the guys who did the task involving physical mechanical skills, the better they performed, while the more you rewarded those who did the task involving Rudimentary cognitive skills which required them to be creative or to do some thinking, the more you incentivize them the lesser they performed and this results are not just anomalous but this study has been carried out in different test environments.
This seems strange because this violates the basic theory of behavioral physics, so does this mean we should not incentivize our employees? No, but there is another way to look at it, why don’t we pay our employees well enough that the issue of money is taken away from the table.
We pay them well enough that their commitment and engagement, which is what we want, is brought out of them and put to play. Three factors lead to this:
1; Autonomy 2; Mastery 3; Purpose.
Autonomy that is their desire to be self directed and not to be controlled by management. This makes the employee think of the task assigned to him/her as a personal one and will give it all their best, once they feel they are the once calling the shots, this can be achieved by bestowing a level of trust on your employees.
Mastery that is their urge to get better at what they do, such can be seen in why people choose to play musical instruments during their weekend because there is possibility to acquire mastery; this has been seen mostly amongst programmers and the I.T industry where there are free open source software which takes time and skill to produce but they give it out for free, here they challenge their mastery and this is quite satisfying for them to be recognized as a masters and contributors in their field.
Purpose that is their desire to do something that seems to be appeasing to their hearts, when a company lets profits overweight purpose, the employees easily get frustrated and if what the company is doing does not give them fulfillment and self actualization, you will get zero engagement and passion thereby taking us back to a less committed and boring work environment.