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Why Innovation Bonuses Won't Work!

Posted on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Innovation Bonuses Won’t Work!  

Studies have shown that the three things leading us to find significantly better job satisfaction and improved personal performance are Autonomy, Mastery and having Purpose.    Let’s face it, managers are missing the point if they think that just offering a bonus is going to get more creativity and better results out of their employees – when psychologists, economists and sociologists have already worked out that money is only a motivator when the tasks are basic and require relatively less creative input.    In fact – if you pay someone for doing more, there’s a point where you can either pay them too much or not enough, and it will affect the outcomes. 

If you took money off the table as an incentive (beyond taking the stress factor out of not having enough in the first place) but offered more scope for employees to be self directing, able to step up on their own terms to being able to operate at a satisfactory level of excellence, and ensured they had a great reason for doing something then people will focus on the outcomes in an entirely different way. 

Atlassian, an Australian software development company gives their staff one day every quarter to work on anything at all they wish to – no restrictions, but they have to share their results and findings.   On this one day, they solve more problems, get more creative and innovative ideas flowing and staff are more highly motivated than at any other time each year.  

So – if you were going to create a company with the best ideas, happiest workers, and a reputation for both these things, would you do it based on how much you pay them and the size of the Christmas bonuses, or on giving people the space and place to play and develop in interesting fresh ways that is ‘out of the box’ thinking at its best.

Andrew’s appointments include: * Past board member of the Song Room * Board member of Florey Neurosciences Foundation Council * Past Board member Zoos Victoria Foundation * Board member of Petstock Foundation * Past Chairman of CAPRA - Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia @ Monash * Chairman of The Click Foundation  * Fundraising Committee of SecondBite * Patron and Founder of Caitlin’s Retreat * Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors * Chairman of Rees Partners Advisory Group