Behavioural science can boost motivation


A better understanding of the science behind the impact of pay and reward on employee behaviour could increase staff motivation, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Its Show me the money! The behavioural science of reward report also found that money may not always be the key way of motivating workers.

The report also found:

  • By evolving the reward structure, organisations can take more control over factors that determine employees’ motivation.
  • Employees’ perceptions of reward are defined by the circumstances in which they are received. For instance, a bonus received during tough economic times will be perceived as having much greater value than the same reward given in times of prosperity.
  • Alternative forms of reward, such as employee award schemes, can be intrinsic to motivating employees. 

Jonny Gifford, research adviser at the CIPD, said: “These are interesting and challenging times for reward specialists.

”We need to recognise employees when they go the extra mile and add increased value, but there are a number of behavioral factors that should be considered when shaping a reward programme.

“Crucially, we must acknowledge that monetary rewards aren’t everything and that they can even distort people’s motivation. For example, enticing the workforce with financial incentives and a strong bonus culture can lead to unwanted, risky and even unethical behaviors.

“The key is having a flexible reward package that takes into account behavioral nuances and doesn’t rely solely on a wad of cash as the only means to motivate staff.

“It is a change in direction for many, but should also be welcome news for organisations which, in a challenging economic context, need to be more creative with reward.”