Incentives – It’s not what you do, but why.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about this. It seems to be a common thread in a lot of events going on around me.

It started by asking myself why I thought Blaugust was something I wanted to do. I discussed this some in Pre-Project Jitters and that’s not what’s on my mind today.

jez babies new
Fresh rabbit babies, less than 24 hours old.

I’m thinking about incentives created to encourage people to behave a certain way. I was listening to The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe a while back and they were discussing the marshmallow test.

Basically put a 3-5 y/o kid in a room with a marshmallow, tell them if they can wait till until an adult comes back they get two. Leave for 10 min, come back, record result. Average time for last test is 7 minutes with 60% waiting the whole 10 min.

Basic incentive, but it works. Adults aren’t really all that different. Wages are an incentive to go to work. Some things are more abstract though. What’s my incentive to write a blog post every day for a month? The experience, the non-existent gold star of knowing I did it, the fond memories I’ll have of it years from now, certainly not tangible things.

What happens when this breaks down though? The US is having record low unemployment right now. Most everyone that wants a job has one and it’s creating a labor shortage. I see businesses struggling to find enough people to operate, partly because the employees don’t hang around. Why be here when I can be over there doing that instead?

This overly possessive ball of fuzz is the mother.

It looks to me like a lack of incentive to stay. They say “we’re competitive, it’s just how the market is” but that doesn’t feel right. Seems like a truly competitive workplace wouldn’t suffer that hard. Seems more likely that they can’t/won’t pay a truly competitive wage or benefits.

It continually amazes me that they seem so oblivious to this. They say they’re competitive, but the turnover says they’re not.

I don’t know, maybe I’m way off base. I’m not an economist or psychologist. Thanks for taking the time to read. Let me know what you think in the comments, yeah?

One thought on “Incentives – It’s not what you do, but why.

  1. To be honest, you’re quite on point. Working in the healthcare field as a nurse, there are so many jobs but not many of them filled. The reasoning is that they will tell us they are competitive and give us high pay and great benefits, however, when we go into the job; we find that the meager pay they gave us is not enough to cover the amount of work we actually have to do.

    This has happened so many times to me, I’ve lost count. My last job had stated they had great pay, benefits, and that we would be earning monthly bonuses. A lot of us took a pay cut because they had hyped up the bonuses at the end of the month being so damn spectacular, when in actuality, it would cover only one week’s worth of gas money…

    The turnover rate for that company is extremely high that they have to consistently keep calling in their per diems, since they got rid of the part-timers. I wish I could say that being a nurse has great pay benefits, and maybe it does for those who don’t get burnt out. Other times it’s a nightmare, and turnover rates mean more OT and overworked nurses who end up quitting because they can’t call-out or take vacation because the company is beyond understaffed.

    A very terrible chain reaction :/


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