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Money Talks

Can money buy you happiness? It can buy things that make you happy such as a new car, a vacation, or that snazzy leather jacket you’ve been looking at for the past few months. So yes, money can indirectly buy you happiness – the real question is for how long? The new car gets a scratch, vacations end, and someone spills their Frappuccino all over your leather jacket in the crowded coffee shop. The truth is happiness is fleeting. So, when a company wants to make a change, is offering incentives the best option to convince the employees to accept the change?
This is one of the ideas Dr. Roloff posed in class last week. There is no doubt that offering incentives such as raises and bonuses can make employees adopt change more quickly. The short-term effects are very beneficial, but the long-term effects can be detrimental to the company environment.
One of the worst things about money is that it turns an intrinsically motivated person into an extrinsically motivated person. The once joyful employee who loved working for the subtle nuances suddenly loses that joy as their attention turns toward the next raise or bonus. Since intrinsically motivated employees produce better effort and quality over extrinsically motivated employees, companies should be weary of using incentives.
Another downside of adding additional incentives is that it produces reduced organizational citizenship behavior. What was once done on an uncompensated basis such as working longer hours or tiding up the office is gone. The employee starts performing the tasks only listed in their job description. This can damage the work culture as everyone starts becoming more selfish and focused on their own work.
Some of my favorite co-workers are the ones who do things that are not expected of them. Gitta baked treats at least once a month for all the people in our office before she retired after 50 years in the organization. She also took care of the plants in our office which only has three windows for 35 people. Manny always fills the printer with paper, even if it isn’t empty and genuinely wants to know how you’re doing when he asks. These intrinsically motivated co-workers do the little things that make a significant difference in the work environment.
Even though money can hasten the change process and produce short-term compliance (or happiness), it won’t last in the long-run and isn’t the best way to encourage change. Instead, Dr. Roloff posed a better solution. People will accept change if they feel the company cares about them. Rather than giving everyone a little extra money, it’s better to put that money in discretionary funds or personal training for the employees. The money still goes to the employees, but it creates the sense that the organization supports them – which makes implementing change easier.
It’s fascinating theories like these that keep my mind active and attentive during Dr. Roloff’s lectures. You never know what you’re going to learn next in the MSC Program!