A new joint study from the University of British Columbia and the Harvard Business School took a deep look at what generates happiness in workers and gets employers more bang for the buck.

The interesting thing the researchers found is when employers pay too much, it becomes the reverse of a motivator. Think about a professional athlete that signs the contract of a lifetime. How often does their performance as a player deteriorate? It’s as if they’ve lost that fire in the belly that got them there in the first place.

What do workers really value? Carrots instead of cash, the researchers found. I’m not saying that employers should cut people back to minimum wage or institute pay freezes. But money is only a motivator up to a point.

If you think about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory, once you have the basics like food, clothing, and shelter taken care of, happiness is based on things other than possessions.

Incentive then comes from being valued, respected, and receiving unusual rewards – which is basically anything other than money!

One of the greatest motivators is flex time. It reduces absenteeism and boosts morale.

If you’re a boss, I’d encourage you to think about unusual ways to make that happen for your people and you’ll make more money.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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