Podcast: SL@P 015 - Does Money Motivate Employees?

Podcast: SL@P 015 - Does Money Motivate Employees?

Does Money Motivate Employees?


In this episode, we are going to explore whether money really increases motivation. I stumbled upon this idea while reading a April 2013 article from the Harvard Business Review that summarized and broke down some of leading studies into whether money increases motivation.

Moreover, if money increases motivation, the real question is, “How much should we pay people?” Intuitively, and even conventionally, people believe and think that higher pay translates into better results. The unfortunate reality is that the evidence seems to suggest a much more intricate relationship between compensation, motivation and performance. In fact, according to the research, allowing people to pick how much they earned would not increase motivation or performance.

So the issues are whether increased pay actually makes a job more enjoyable and whether higher pay increases motivation.

To begin, the research indicates that “the association between salary and job satisfaction is very weak.” Specifically, it appears that there is less than 2% overlap between pay and job satisfaction.

This information has important implication on how lawyers and law firms should hire personnel and structure pay for lawyers. The practical reality is that an engaged and motivated team is not engaged or motivated because of money.

Contrary to the popular notion that money increases employee satisfaction, the research shows that “intrinsic motivation,” which is a person’s desire or eagerness to do something because they enjoy it or are passionate about it, is a better predictor of job performance than money or increased pay.

Drawing a comparison to those employees and attorneys whom I have worked with over the years, the increase in pay often seems to be an unrelated and unconnected consequence of their passion to perform their functions well. However, it’s worth noting that nothing in this podcast is suggesting that you pay poorly or that you ignore the hard work, passion and dedication of your team. Rather, examine each member of your staff and determine what they need to become motivated or what may be done to increase performance.

Once again, I am Jared Pierce, and you have been listening to SL@P NC’s podcast.


Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h

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