SAN DIEGO — "People are not coin-operated," said motivational author Daniel Pink, a frequent speaker on HR-related topics, in his keynote address at the 2011 WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference on May 23.
Turning his attention to employee compensation, Pink, who served as chief speech writer to former Vice President Al Gore, pointed to the British firm Red Gate Software, where the heavily commissioned sales team was challenged by individuals "gaming the system" to earn higher commissions and by recurring problems with collaboration. When individual commissions were replaced with an incentive plan that gave all sales force members a share of the profits at year end, collaboration went up, as did customer satisfaction, Pink said. (He elaborates his views on sales team commissions here.)
Pink urged compensation managers to "challenge the assumption that when you reward behavior, you get more of it, and when you punish behavior, you get less of it. People are not that simple."
It's not that money isn't important, Pink noted, but "people have more sophisticated needs. Human beings are profoundly attuned to the norm of fairness." In viewing total rewards, Pink called for "a wider notion of 'total.'"
"Pay people enough to take money off the table," he advised, and then "focus on the work, not the money," as a motivator.
Employees "can't be controlled into engagement," he contended. But "greater autonomy over their time, their team, their tasks and their work techniques" can lead to increased engagement, productivity and profitability.
As artificial intelligence technology continues to develop, the demand for workers with the ability to work alongside and manage AI systems will increase. This means that workers who are not able to adapt and learn these new skills will be left behind in the job market.
A vast majority of U.S. professionals say students entering the workforce should have experience using AI and be prepared to use it in the workplace, and they expect higher education to play a critical role in that preparation.