Principle 3: Employees Will Be Motivated When They Perceive a Performance-Supportive Cost Structure
Employees must sense that the costs (negative outcomes) they experience at work do not encourage low effort expenditure. Negative outcomes from work can overshadow rewards and render a high-quality reward system relatively useless for employee motivational purposes. The less the positive correlation between effort and costs or the stronger the perceived inverse relation between effort and costs, the stronger the motivation.
The classical focus in motivation theory is on positive outcomes (rewards) and how to control them. Neglected, but just as important in motivating, are the negative outcomes (costs) experienced by employees. If not controlled, these can outweigh the motivating impact of an organization's reward system.
To prevent costs from encouraging low effort, management must get employees to sense that the negative outcomes associated with high effort are low. One must sense that high effort will be accompanied by relatively little stress, fatigue, fear, boredom, and the like. When one senses such, high effort becomes more palatable, and one will strive for the rewards of high effort because one senses those rewards will not be negated, or offset, by the negative outcomes (sacrifices) associated with high effort.
The following are ways to get employees to see that relatively low costs accompany high levels of effort.