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When Bonuses Fail to Bring Productivity: Why Rewards Don’t Work

It’s an age-old question: do bonuses really work to increase productivity? Many employers believe that if they dangle a carrot in front of their employees in the form of a bonus, they will be more productive. However, this may not always be the case.

In fact, there are several reasons why bonuses may not bring about the desired results.

In this blog post, we will explore some theories on the reasons your rewards aren’t leading to increased productivity; read on whether you are just a start-up or you spend your days on CasinoChan!

Reward As Punishment

This idea, which is now quite fashionable, is that we should all learn to “notice the appropriate and excellent behaviour” and “immediately praise or reward it.” There isn’t a book on management today, not a single article on parenting or a course on learning techniques that doesn’t emphasise this concept. The fundamental notion is that in any given scenario, there are only two possible reactions: punishment or positive reinforcement.

In a research published in 1991, four months of primary school teachers were studied. It was discovered that rewards and punishments are closely linked in the classroom: those who utilised one of the methods also used it more often, not less. The use of incentives and corporal punishment has a positive relationship with physical chastisement, according to a survey of several hundred mothers with young children.

The study also discovered that even praise, the type of reward that is typically accepted to cause the least conflict, is frequently utilised by persons who usually communicate with youngsters in a controlling or authoritarian manner. This does not show anything about rewards’ inherent qualities, but it does answer the question of what relationship exists between them and punishments.

The essential aspect of this connection may be summed up as follows: reward is punishment. Those who utilise rewards to avoid having to use punitive measures on anybody might not realise that rewarding people already functions as a type of punishment. The first of these elements refers to the fact that they allow you to regulate conduct to no lesser degree than you can with punishments.

Even if we set aside metaphysical concerns and return to the corporate business module, it cannot be disputed that when someone who is rewarded understands that his conduct is controlled, he will experience a punitive result in the long run, although the very moment of receiving a reward can create, generally, an enjoyable memory.

Rewards Diminish Risk Taking

Rewards may increase our chances of acting in accordance with the wants of others. However, something else significant happens when we are rewarded or rely on them: we do what is expected of us, but in a different way than usual. When we’re influenced by incentives or expect them, our attention is usually seriously restricted compared to situations where we aren’t expecting anything in return. We almost cease focusing on and remembering things that aren’t directly connected to our current activities.

You’re given a set of index cards with one word on each, which are all different colours and aren’t repeated. You’re promised a reward if you can remember all the words, so you start learning them. When you’ve finished, you show that you were able to retain the information, and suddenly you’re expected to recall what colour the card with this or that term was.

Given your experience with other tasks like this, I’m sure your result will be considerably lower than someone who did precisely the same thing but didn’t expect a reward. Researchers call this incidental learning “involuntary learning.” The use of incentives inevitably prevents this. And the reason why this happens will be even more important than the phenomenon itself.

The fundamental idea is as follows: when we work for a reward, we only do what is necessary and nothing more. That is, instead of being open to new possibilities at work, we are less inclined to tempt fate, less interested in exploring other options, and less willing to take chances.