Do short-term incentives really work to motivate employees? Jennifer E. Wynter-Palmer of the University of Technology/Jamaica Institute of Management examined the debate and its implications in her article “Is the Use of Short-Term Incentives Good Organization Strategy?,” published in the Compensation & Benefits Review September/October 2012 issue:
This article is based on research conducted on Jamaica’s hotel industry. The study sought to determine if there are any advantages to both employers and employees in use of short-term incentives in that industry. Using theories of motivation and the concepts governing incentive compensation to construct a theoretical framework, the article sought to make the link between short-term incentives, motivation and employee productivity. The debate by both academicians and human resource practitioners is about the right types as well as the right mix of workplace motivators. It is acknowledged that there are strong arguments on all sides. This article seeks to add to the academic debate by advancing that what is critical is that (a) the need for employee motivation should not be viewed as optional but must be fully appreciated, planned and implemented thoughtfully by employers; and (b) the motivational processes used will be influenced by the thinking of an organization’s leadership team as well as the culture of the organization. It is posited for this discussion that where organizations are on a quest to improve workforce productivity, their employees need to be motivated by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. In turn, the right types and levels of motivation will lead to employees performing at the desired levels.