What Motivates Us at Work?

A recent post on the TED Blog discusses a presentation by behavioral economist Dan Ariely at TEDx Río de la Plata. In it, he presents his latest research on workplace motivation - and many of his findings indicate that you might consider a peer to peer recognition and reward program at your workplace.

Some highlights:

Positive reinforcement increases performance. Most of us already know that praise increases motivation. This research indicates that praise also improves performance. In other words, the praised and recognized worker doesn’t just work harder - she works better.

Knowing our work helps others increases our motivation. Many managers will talk about doing work “for the good of the company”. What this research shows is that we also are motivated by knowing how our work helps our others. Peer bonuses make it easy for employees to see how their work has directly helped their colleagues, thus increasing their motivation.

If we feel less appreciated, we want more money. This impacts your bottom line. People who feel unappreciated want more money to do the same job. It doesn’t get much clearer than this. You can implement an employee recognition and reward program for $100 per employee per month (far less than most annual bonus programs). Despite its low cost, this research shows that it could be even more impactful than annual bonuses, as your employees will be able to give and receive meaningful appreciation on a regular basis throughout the year.

Originally published on January 17, 2014 → Last updated April 1, 2019

What You Need to Know About Motivation in the Workplace

June 26, 2015 by George Dickson George Dickson

Appreciation Motivates Employees to Work Harder

February 21, 2014 by John Quinn John Quinn

Why Most Employee Rewards Don't Motivate

April 24, 2015 by George Dickson George Dickson
Raphael Crawford-Marks

Raphael is co-founder and CEO of Bonusly, where his focus is on creating a work environment that enables the Bonusly team to thrive.


Bonusly is a fun, personal employee recognition and rewards program that helps people feel engaged and successful at work. ✨