In other words, we can’t just order people around and expect them to do what we want, we have to get them to want what we want. An entire industry of compensation consultants has emerged to answer that question, but nevertheless most employees feel unmotivated.
We need to drastically change how we think about incentives. For years, compensation specialists have focused on rational benefits to employment, with poor results. We’ve known for a long time that people don’t behave rationally. Motivation is primarily an emotional business and at its root is not economic exchange, but human dignity.
Traditionally, employment has been viewed economically. Employees exchange their labor for pay with which they can procure goods and services they enjoy. They also value leisure time with their family and friends, training to increase their economic value and so on. Therefore, or so the thinking goes, motivating employees entails giving them more of the things that they want.