Does Money Hurt Workplace Motivation?

“Show me the money!” The line made famous by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tom Cruise in the hit movie Jerry McGuire speaks to the obsession with money in pop culture, our daily lives and even in our workplaces. But does the obsession come with a price, and are there any consequences to this obsession in the world of work?

Money and empirical thoughts

Edward Deci, professor of psychology and social sciences at the University of Rochester and director of its human motivation program, was one of the first researchers to shed light on the damaging impacts of financial incentives on motivation. In one of his many experiments examining the subject, Deci asked a group of students to solve a series of puzzles. For one group, he offered cash rewards that were linked to their performance, while in another he did not. Deci found that members of the incentivized group did just enough to receive the reward, while the other groups continued to work on the task even after the desired level of performance was attained. He concluded that this is a striking example of how an extrinsic reward can systematically undermine our desire to perform for performance sake (e.g., intrinsic reward).

Get your FREE trial now!

Start your free 14-day trial now to read this story and

Make. Work. Better.

Already a subscriber?

Reuse and Permissions: While social sharing is permitted, unauthorized reuse or republication of any and all content is strictly prohibited. To discuss re-use of this material, please contact: ; 877-668-1945.

Craig Dowden

Written By

Craig Dowden & Associates is a firm focused on supporting clients in achieving leadership and organizational excellence by leveraging the science of peak performance. He is author of Do Good to Lead Well: The Science and Practice of Positive Leadership.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related Posts

Your Workplace is a premium source of leading-edge content to help you create a thriving workplace where everyone wants to work.

Contact Your Workplace

Tel: 613-549-1222
Toll Free: 1-877-668-1945
Contact Us

Whoa! Don't Go Yet

Sign up to receive free leading-edge content about people at work.