Workplace myths revisited

Jul 16 2008 by Print This Article

There are a lot of commonly held beliefs in life, and that extends into the working world. While some beliefs have a kernel of truth in them, many of them are nothing more than myths.

A couple of years back, David Sirota, Louis A. Mischkind and Irwin Meltzer wrote a book called The Enthusiastic Employee which examined what really motivates individuals in the workplace.

Also explored in the book were thirty-three myths about employee motivation which, the authors argued, have no basis in truth.

All of them are worth re-examining, notably:

  • Employees only care about their salary and what benefits they get.
  • Most workers will never be happy with their pay, no matter what that pay is.
  • When one of your direct-reports complains about their salary, they are really upset about something else.
  • A profit sharing program is a significant motivator for employees.
  • In order for a company to survive in today's economy, they have to keep salaries low.
  • If you tell someone that they are doing well in their job, they will become complacent.
  • Most people just hate working, no matter what kind they are asked to do.
  • If you don't micro-manage an employee, they will do whatever they can to goof off and get away with things.
  • A company who is loyal to their employees will be less successful than a company that is not in the modern economy.
  • Your employees will always resist change, no matter what that change may be.

And so the list goes on, with Sirota et al exploding each one and explaining how such beliefs can hurt your business.

It's also worth revisiting what they say employees do want from their jobs:

Equity: To be treated justly in relation to the basic conditions of employment (especially pay, benefits, job security, and respectful treatment)

Achievement: To take pride in one's accomplishments by doing things that matter and doing them well; to receive recognition for one's accomplishments; to take pride in the organization's accomplishments.

Camaraderie: To have warm, interesting, and cooperative relations with others in the workplace.

It is therefore not true that workers just want one thing, such as money. Psychologically healthy people have a variety of needs.

Not exactly rocket science, is it?