Freakonomics as a Lesson for HR

I am reading a very interesting book called Freakonomics ( I know, I am behind the curve). The premise of the book is the study of incentives. Don’t let this, or the fact that it is an economics book, frighten you. It is VERY interesting. One of their fundamental ideas is that “Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life. And understanding them…. is the key to solving just about any riddle, from violent crime to sports cheating to online dating.” (Told you it was interesting.)

Further, they describe “… the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.” And “There are three basic flavors of incentive: economic, social, and moral. Very often a single incentive scheme will include all three varieties.” As I was reading this I was thinking this is also the cornerstone of human resources. We are always wondering how to motivate employees. What incentives do we use to make them work better, harder, smarter, longer? And often we are puzzled. Why does one thing work for one person and something else works for the next person.

There are some good insights in this book for human resources managers and I strongly suggest you read it and try to apply those insights to your work place.

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