I've been thinking quite a bit lately about pay and motivation. On the bus home tonight it struck me how little pay affects how I work, let alone how hard, and I can't believe that this isn't true for lots of folks.
To get into this first a very basic take on the framework I think I am using to approach work. I think I have a sense in my head of what the broad objectives are for my job. Then below this are a set of broad tasks that I am required to undertake, and below that sit the day to day stuff that needs doing.
In terms of motivation I sense that the things that drive me to work are either pure enjoyment (because I like getting stuck into a particular task) or a slight sense of dread (can't think of a better word) that if I don't get moving I will not be delivering what I understand to be 'doing the job properly'. But broadly I am using the above framework to judge how I am doing and whether I need to do more. I do not consider the financial arrangements of the job. (As an aside I would add that when I worked at the TUC I also felt a very strong responsibility to try and work in a way that I thought was genuinely of benefit to union members. I'm not claiming that's what I actually did (!) but a broader sense of responsibility was a definite factor in how I approached the job.)
I can honestly say that in none of this does the amount I get paid even enter my head. Going further I can't see how my pay could be structured in a way that would actually get me to do my job differently, because a) I can't see how you could measure some of this stuff in order to tie rewards to certain bits of it and b) I think I would carry on largely as before in any case.
Just as a quick example, in a previous job I was offered a reasonable bonus if I recruited someone for a given role within a short space of time. We quickly interviewed two people who I thought could have done the job well, but neither wanted it. After that I was unsure about other candidates and as a result didn't appoint someone within the timeframe so no bonus. So did the incentive of the bonus work or not? In theory I could have appointed someone I wasn't convinced by to get the money, but I didn't. In practice I think it was simply a dumb idea to tie a bonus to a task like this, but hey.
In fact when I think about it what I get paid has far more importance in my non-work life (making sure the mortgage is paid etc) than in influencing how I work. Maybe if bonuses were a bigger part of it that would make a difference, but in reality I don't think so. I'm interested in the finding that tying rewards to tasks can actually make performance worse, because I think this is exactly how I think I have reacted in such a situation. Instead of simply trying to reach the best decision/do the best job the overhanging knowledge of the incentive makes you second-guess yourself.
Anyway, enough blah for now, but this is a topic I'll be returning to, you lucky people.