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Praise Me, Pay Me, But Above All, Appreciate Me

Anybody who has ever worked for a penurious boss (a euphemism for "tightwad cheapskate") has undoubtedly heard these words, or something close to it: "I'm sorry we can't pay you more, but we'll make it up to you with recognition. We're all team players here."

Well, according to a study conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, the idea that praise is an adequate substitute for money is a workplace myth.

"Neither praise nor money alone are sufficient to satisfy employees," says David Sirota, chairman emeritus. "There are three basic goals that the vast majority of employees seek from their jobs: pride in one's work; positive and productive relationships with one's co-workers; and being treated fairly in pay, benefits, and job security."

Sirota also adds that "these needs cannot be substituted for one another. As we enter the holiday and bonus season, managers should remember that a thank you' from the boss does not replace money, and money cannot substitute for praise. All of these needs are critical. There are no significant differences in the three basic goals that people want from their work by occupation, industry, age, gender, or culture. People everywhere want to be treated fairly, be proud of what they do, and for whom they do it."

So if you're thinking a modest year-end bonus handed out at the company holiday luncheon will buy you a year's worth of gratitude and loyalty from your staff, forget it. Take a look at that "continuous improvement" schedule on your bulletin board and remember that applies to employee relations, too.

According to Sirota, other workplace myths include:

Employees' immediate managers are the cause of most workers' problems.

Employees who complain about their pay are really unhappy about something else.

There are major differences between generations in what people want from their jobs.

There are major differences between cultures and countries in what people want from their jobs.

Profit-sharing is a major motivator of employee performance.

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