Who Cares About Money?


Matthew Timms, The New Economy

Reviewed by Barb Herke-Smith, PT

Staff motivation is critical to retain top employees. “At a time when leading corporations seek to retain top talent to better their services, staff motivation has proven pivotal,” says author Matthew Timms. Numerous studies have been conducted on the conflict between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Intrinsic or “psychic” motivation occurs when something is inherently interesting or exciting. When rewards are given, the motivation is extrinsic or “material” based. Natural tension exists between intrinsic motivation and material rewards, and several studies suggest financial rewards may stifle intrinsic pursuits. Understanding motivation is essential to effectively manage companies of all sizes.

Financial reward is well documented as a strong motivator. However, whether high pay drives equal levels of satisfaction is debatable. Frederick Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory maintains job satisfaction and dissatisfactions are entirely separate entities. Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci, professors of psychology at Rochester University, suggest extrinsic rewards can often demotivate individuals and cause an inherent tension with senses of well-being and learning.1 Coauthors of Compensations in Organizations Barry Gerhart and Sara L. Rynes agree stating, “One curious feature of the pay level/satisfaction literature is that there are virtually no studies that correlate pay level with general job satisfaction.”2

Tobias Assman’s study, “Incentives for Participation,” describes how external interventions can have a negative effect if the individual perceives them to be controlling, yet if the individual perceives them to be supportive, they foster increased self-esteem and have a positive effect on intrinsic motivation.

Each individual has his or her own unique intrinsic motivators. Intrinsic rewards are based on individual opinion regarding work duties, and Timms outlines four areas workers use to make these determinations.

  • Worth: The perceived importance of the task. If perceived as valuable, the worker feels a sense of purpose.
  • Choice: Flexibility to perform the task instills a sense of responsibility.
  • Competence: Meeting and exceeding his or her standards leads to satisfaction.
  • Progress: Feeling of accomplishing something important elicits confidence.

Steven Reiss, a theorist from Ohio State University, states, “If you reward a person for just spending time in an activity, the person will become bored with the activity. If you reward a person for learning a new skill, however, the person is likely to show greater interest in the activity. When a reward symbolizes success, for example, intrinsic interest should be enhanced.”3

Timms believes times have changed and today companies are more responsive and dynamic, which requires employees to take more initiative and make more decisions. Therefore, it is critical for employers to attract and retain talented employees. In response, employers are working harder to provide more attractive work environments. Many employers recognize the diverse needs of their employees and offer a wider array of programs and support. Examples include life coaches, career development, subsidized childcare, and onsite health care and fitness centers. The Ivey Business Journal notes that intrinsic rewards are now a greater part of working life. Today’s workers have greater expectations, demand more independence, and demonstrate a more diverse means of accomplishing tasks.

“Although extrinsic rewards are an important facet in cultivating the working environment, intrinsic rewards are a healthy and sustainable means of spurring motivation and, arguably, take greater precedence now than they ever have done in the past,” states Timms.

Practice Bottom line

To recruit and retain top therapists in your practice, recognize the importance of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. as worker demands become more complex, so must the rewards. it is about more than just the salary.


Barb Herke-Smith, PT, is a PPS member and senior director of sales at WorkWell and works with therapists seeking to expand the occupational health/employer based services in their market. She can be reached at bherkesmith@workwell.com.




1. Ryan R, Deci E. Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology 25, 54-67 (2000). Doi: 10.1006/ceps. 1999.1020. Website www.idealibary.com. Posted 2000. Accessed May 2014.

2. Rynes SL, Gerhart B, Minette KA. The Importance of Pay in Employee Motivation: Discrepancies Between What People Say and What They Do. Human Resource Management, Winter 2004, Vol. 43, No. 4, Pp. 381–394 © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

3. Reiss S. How to Motivate Someone. Huffington Post. Website www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-reiss-phd/motivation-tips_b_1533533.html. Posted May 2012. Accessed May 2014.

Article appeared in the June 11, 2013, online publication, The New Economy. It can be found at www.theneweconomy.com/strategy/who-cares-about-money

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