DON'T motivate with bonuses alone

Motivation of staff

Employers may offer bonuses to motivate their employees. However, this type of motivation doesn't always work, but why?

Well, there is a saying "we walk towards what we seek, but we run away from what we fear."

While we all favour the reward, the threat of punishment will often cause a stronger reaction. This is due to loss aversion, which is the behavioural tendency for people to prefer avoiding losses over acquiring the equivalent gains.

DON'T motivate with bonuses alone | Motivation of staff

Level of motivation




If we really want to motivate people, we should use a combination of both reward and punishment.

For example, we may tell a salesperson that if they sell a lot of products, they will receive a bonus (reward), but if they don't sell enough, there may be consequences (punishment).

This is the classic "carrot and stick" approach.

Motivation & management

Management is all about changing the behaviour of employees by motivating them to do something they would not have done otherwise. 

As stated by the University of Notre Dame, "Effective managers have the ability to motivate those they work with to behave in a specific, goal-directed way. A motivated team should be energised and excited about performing tasks. They should be focused on doing what is important for the organisation. Managers want a sustained effort from their employees so that they work hard whether or not the boss is present."

Because management and motivation are strongly related to employee behaviour, behavioural profiling should be used in both recruitment and management. After all, if you know your employees' behavioural profiles, then it is much easier to determine what motivates them.

At 11 Recruitment, we offer DISC profiling, which examines the traits of dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance. As illustrated in the table below, individuals within each of these categories have very different desires and fears, and should therefore be motivated in different ways.

DON'T motivate with bonuses alone | Motivation & management















If you are conducting your own recruitment drive and would like to assess the behavioural fit of candidates, our DISC profiling service may be of interest. Click the button below to find out more.

Christian Madsen | Managing Director
Christian Madsen
Managing Director
11 Recruitment

Recruitment tips & advice

  • Totally agree would rather have a larger salary and smaller bonus. Sometimes what is given does not reflect the amount of work put in.

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