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Article Summary of Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work by Alfie Kohn

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Introduction

Article Summary of "Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work" by Alfie Kohn Article Summary written by: Rahim In the article "Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work", Kohn discusses the negative impact of the widely popular reward system in organizations to motivate employees. The author begins by stating that most of the studies on this subject suggest that rewards and incentives typically end up with different outcomes than it was originally intended. Although rewards within an organization result in employees' temporary compliance, they do not create any lasting effect and in the long run are completely ineffective. Most of the Americans do not realize this as they are so much used to the reward systems in schools and at homes where both teachers and parents tie the rewards to the daily work being performed. The author cites examples of losing weight, quitting smoking and other short lived activities that are mostly performed by people with short term rewards in mind and that they revert to their previous behavior once those rewards run out. ...read more.

Middle

First, the author notes that even though salary and compensation are the factors for workers to stay with an organization, these are not the only motivational factors and that higher compensation does not guarantee better workers or increased efficiency. Second, the rewards do more harm by upsetting those employees who desired and hoped for the rewards but did not receive them eventually contributing to a negative work environment. Third, rewards create hostility and non-cooperation among colleagues and teammates who compete against rather than work with each other. As Peter R. Scholtes, senior management consultant at Joiner Associates Inc., states that with the rewards systems everybody works towards their own selfish gain and much less care to work collectively. Fourth, rewards systems let managers ignore the possible reasons for problems. Managers prefer to choose rewards systems as it requires less effort on their part compared to substitutes like positive feedback, social support, and other motivational methods. ...read more.

Conclusion

The author suggests that the companies should pay their employees fairly and generously so they are not preoccupied thinking about money. Further, there should be no additional rewards or incentives whatsoever. Although I agree with the author's point of view that awarding rewards encourage self interest among employees and cause other problems, I feel that without any incentive employees will have no motivations for creativity, better performance, and achievement. Companies can also risk losing their best employees if the pay and other incentives are not tied to the performance. Equity theory states that employees compare their job inputs (effort, experience, education, and competence) and outcomes (salary levels, raise, and rewards) to those of other employees (referents) and that these comparisons affect individual motivation. Similarly, expectancy theory also states that employees are motivated when they believe that their work effort will lead to a good performance appraisal which in turn will lead to organizational rewards. Therefore, it is important that organizations recognize and reward high performance appropriately. ...read more.

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