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Not motivated by money?

People keep trying to convince me that not everyone is motivated by money - a friend tried to convince me at the weekend that one of his staff was more motivated by being allowed to go and buy the stamps for the envelopes that he was stuffing than he would have been with more money!

I tend to think that everyone is motivated by money - it's just a question of how much money it takes to make up for the other things. For example - we'd all love to work for Joel - or any company that passes the Joel test. But given the choice of doing that for (say) $100 per day, or working somewhere really **** for $1000 per day - how many would take Joel? What if it was $10,000?
Another Contractor....
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
So you would kill someone if you were offered enough money? Is it really just a matter of money?
son of parnas
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
parnasson, must you nitpick?  must you??  (yes, i realise i'm being hypocritical)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I think a better take on this issue is this:

Everybody is motivated by money up to a certain point.  Once a person is happy with their monetary compensation more money will not make them more motivated.

For example:  We have Bob programmer, and he's a pretty decent Java guy.  Company A and Company B both need a good Java guy, and give Bob offers.

Bob only really needs $60k/year to pay the bills, the mortgage, take care of the kids, and enjoy some luxuries here and there.

Company A offers Bob $70k/year, but isn't anything special.

Company B offers Bob $60k/year, but also will give him a nice workstation, dual LCD monitors, his own office, a shorter drive to work, and the tech lead that interviewed him really values creative input from his team.

I'd imagine Bob would probably go with Company B, even though Company A is paying more and would probably allow Bob to buy a nice Plasma TV.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
I don't think money is any different than any other motivator. At some point you start hitting diminishing returns, and it takes a lot more money (or whatever) to create a small change in motivation level. On the other hand, at the lower end of the scale, a small change can produce big results.

You've got to keep a good balance of all factors - money, control over your work, interesting assignments, good people, recognition, etc...
igor Send private email
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
It's the standard case of looking only at the two ends of the spectrum. Life isn't like that. Look closer to the middle and you'll see what Joel is talking about. Incremental adjustments in income make little difference. Huge ones do. If you are going to give me 10 times my current salary then I will live/work anywhere (even in New York!). But an extra $10k with fewer perks isn't going to get my attention.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The bottom line, what do I need minimaly to support a standard of living I choose for myself and my family? This is living within your means and reflects a wide range of personal values. If I can pleasantly support myself on 100 a day and I love my job, theres no need to consider more. Evidently, others have differing opinions and values.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
It is also impacted by age. Young college kids are easily swayed by money. Older folks tend to value time and other perks more than money.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Larry's comment above is interesting - I think we would all go for company B with the better "quality of life" - you make the tradeoff between the extra £10,000 and what you get at company B. But how many would do it if it was £120,000 vs £60,000? I think what I'm trying to say is that we (consciously or not) put a monetary value on things like dual screens etc and trade that off against extra salary. But almost everything Larry said as a plus for Company B was something that made a tangible benefit to how you do your job - what if the only thing that they had to offer was a really interesting/intelligent co-worker?

MOney doesn't motivate you to do a job you hate - I gave up my most highly paid contract ever after 3 months 4 years ago because I was so miserable - 4 years later I've never matched that rate - and I've never regretted it! But I think it does affect how well you will tolerate one that's "dull/ok"!

Another Contractor....
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
P.S. to the other poster who commented on whether you need more money if you can support your family on the lower rate - absolutely true....but at the point when you can't? Then do you take the interesting one? Or the one that pays?
Another Contractor....
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Even if you're paid more $$$ than everyone else at your place there are still a few things the cash won't buy: a really confy chair at work, more memory for your work PC, a cool project you can show to your pals and be proud of.

If money were everything, then how is that most business developers have better PC-s at home, than at work? And you spend at least 40 most productive hours of your week in the office sitting on the crappy chair, waiting for a slow PC. I might do for a year, but, trust me, after year and half you might as well tell yourself: sod it, I'm going to a low paid start up with a free soda!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Not directly applicable, but take a look at the book Freakonomics, by Levitt.

Couple of interesting examples he makes;

1. "Junior" drug dealers (the ones that actually stand on the corner) earn the equivalent of minimum wage. Many have part-time jobs flipping burgers, and live with their parents to get by. For this, they're willing to accept the 1/4 possibility of being shot. Below them in the organization, there are also thousands that do the same grunt work for free. All for the chance at the top, where the real money is.

2. Daycare centers had a problem with parents picking up their kids late. They tried adding a $3 charge for late pickup, and found that lateness went up significantly.

Money affects people in strange ways. It isn't always true that people will exert more effort for more financial returns. People are very complex creatures, with complicated and diverse motivations.

Personally, if I had a choice between $70K w/o a good working environment, and $60K w/, I would likely end up take the latter. However, while talking with friends about this, I might feel the need to find something more substantial to justify my choice, such as "The company seemed much more stable, with long-term potential, etc.". I think I'd feel a little silly suggesting that I let $10K go because "they seemed nicer".
Nigel Send private email
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
It's the small differences that are important when looking at questions like this.

There's a decision analysis tool that essentially asks you to list all of the determining factors for something, then weight them, then score the options.  You can then come to some sort of conclusion.  I know a professor that changed universities because of this tool.  For a job it might look like this:

John Doe is a young professional who lives near the major arteries.  He likes to drive his car and doesn't mind commutes.  He says that he needs challenging work and descent working conditions, but poor working conditions don't really bother him until they are really poor.  He isn't too concerned about salary since he expects to earn a good promotion in a year's time.

John has two job offers, and he rates them as follows:

        10%  |      40%      |      30%        |  20%
      Commute | Challenging work| Work conditions | Pay
Job A |  3    |      6        |      4        |  6
Job B |  10    |      4        |      8        |  8

10 is best, 1 is worst.  If you do the math you'll see that Job A scores .1 and Job B scores 6.6.  Joe should take Job B (even though challenging work is most important and Job A scores better there, other factors dominated his decision).

 This can't solve the whole problem, but it can show you that people value many things, not just salary, and it can help you see the relative values.  Of course these rankings and percentages are different for each person and are highly subjective and change over time.  It's just a tool.
Lou Send private email
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
The interesting point about money is all the
people telling ME that I dont need more of it.

How would they ( whoever that is ) know that
I am not motivated by more money when they
did not ask me.

If money is such a poor motivator how come
it is so very important that they keep it
away from me ?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
"How would they ( whoever that is ) know that I am not motivated by more money when they did not ask me."

If money is your primary motivator then take the job with the highest pay you can get.  Other companies will find that they can pay less than top-notch salaries and get top-notch programmers if they provide a good working environment and treat the programmers well.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Assuming your sole motivation is money, the decision isn't that much easier.

How do you quantify bonuses and profit-sharing before taking a job?

How easy is it to project the return on a simple 10% profit-sharing scheme, over the next 5 years?

How much is it worth to you to have an extra week off, if it means you don't have to hire another babysitter when your daycare provider is on holidays, or closed for Christmas?

The list goes on and on, but pure salary is just a part of the equation.
Nigel Send private email
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
"Even if you're paid more $$$ than everyone else at your place there are still a few things the cash won't buy: a really confy chair at work, more memory for your work PC, a cool project you can show to your pals and be proud of."


  - I'm sitting in a chair I bought, one that can handle my 240+ lbs for hours on end.  (Pun accidental.)
  - with IT's permission I upgraded to a quad monitor system (and the video card leaves with me if it's worth anything when/if I leave).
  - I've worked on many projects that I pitched to the bosses & got permission to do.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

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