Pay and Job Performance

Critically evaluate this statement: Managers who rely only on pay to motivate their employees to higher levels of job performance will always be disappointed n the results.

Pay is one thing that causes many discrepancies within the work

environment. Most employees continue to try and further themselves in

work usually with the hope of better pay; fringe benefits i.e. company

cars, pensions and so on. There are however, those who show “highly

motivated behaviour where economic rewards are low.”[1] This citation

agrees with the above statement, however, throughout this essay I will

sum up where pay can be seen as a good motivator and where extrinsic

benefits fail.

Content theorists such as Maslow and Herzberg look at needs and what

gives people the drive to work. A similar theme arises in the

different theories which on face value seem opposing they all look at

ones desire to work in order to satisfy their needs.

To start, Maslow believed there is a hierarchy as to what makes people

work. The first being for survival. People need basic requirements

such as food, water and shelter. Those in this group are not

necessarily poorly motivated but are purely working to satisfy needs.

The second level of five is for safety reasons i.e. a safe work

environment – job security. Thirdly Maslow believed some are motivated

by the need for social interaction, friendship with fellow colleagues.

This is inclusive of a sense of belonging. Further up the hierarchy

is the need for status. When an employee is made to feel important and

needed in a job this will motivate them to do well. Lastly is personal

ambition called self-actualisation. This is a level of complete


For Maslow, pay is the lowest in all of the motivators. He believes

you move up the scale towards self-motivation. However, his theory has

been met by much criticism. It can be seen as “patronising and elitist

in terms of the values it expresses.”[2] People can achieve complete

self-motivation from activities they do outside of work i.e.

childcare, for these employees they can have reached a higher order

before satisfying the lower ones. It is also practically impossible to

generalise everyone’s strengths and weaknesses as each person is an

individual. The theory is also often contradicted by research such as

the study by Hall and Nougain. (1968)[3] In reality...

... middle of paper ...

...r hard work showed in their performance.

In conclusion, the essay has shown circumstances where pay works as a

motivator and where it fails. The overwhelming feeling is that pay is

fine as a short term motivator but when it is used continually workers

can become reliant and it can put pressure on employee relations as

well as encouraging them to work purely for economic reward. Managers

will not always be disappointed with results as explained but there

are other ways to motivate which have shown to produce continually

good results such as job enrichment and making employees feel as

though they genuinely matter. In my opinion, managers who use pay

incentives can achieve good results but from reading the articles as

evidence my advice would be to use them sparingly.

[1] Organisational Behaviour – compiled by A. Beauregard page 201

[2] Organisational Behaviour – compiled by A. Beauregard page 204

[3] This study “examined the changes in needs of a group of people.”

OB – A. Beauregard page 205

[4] Organisational Behaviour – compiled by A. Beauregard page 205

[5] Organisational Behaviour – compiled by A. Beauregard page 206

[6] Harvard Business Review
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