Reviewed by Carly M.

In 1969, a psychology graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University began an experiment designed to test the effect of rewards on motivation. Two groups of adults were asked to use puzzle blocks to form a series of structures as quickly as they could. In addition to how well the adults performed the task, the graduate student also studied how interested they were in solving the puzzles themselves. During a break in which the scientist left the room, the subjects were secretly observed to see if they would continue playing with the puzzle pieces or if they would rather browse through the popular magazines provided to them.

Nearly all of the subjects continued to play with the puzzle pieces after the scientist had left, indicating that they received some enjoyment out of solving the puzzles. When one group was rewarded with a dollar for every puzzle solved correctly, they began to spend their entire breaks working with the puzzle pieces, perhaps hoping to get a head start on the next puzzle. However these subjects actually became slower and less efficient at solving the puzzles and when the financial reward was taken away, those subjects who had previously been rewarded completely lost interest in the puzzle pieces and abandoned them as soon as the scientist left the room. In contrast, the subjects that had not ever been rewarded financially remained interested in the puzzles, became very adept at solving them, and seemed to truly enjoy the experiment.

So begins Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. In the book, Pink talks about how the carrot and stick system that worked for jobs in the last century is no longer effective in the workplaces of today and could, in fact, be leading to less job satisfaction and poor employee performance. As jobs have become less repetitive and more creative, Pink argues that employees have begun to gain intrinsic satisfaction from doing their jobs well, but that satisfaction is decreased when they are offered rewards such as bonuses and higher salaries.

[amazonify]1594488843[/amazonify]So is the secret to productivity to pay employees as little as possible? Daniel Pink doesn’t think so. He does, however, think that taking a more creative approach to employee rewards will allow employers to maximize their workplace potential. Pink lays out a comprehensive guide for increasing internal motivation in employees, based on scientific research and the success stories of major corporations.

I enjoyed this book, although I found the writing style to be a bit rough at times. Some of the information seemed to be buried under a mound of statistics and citations, but when I was able to get to it, it simply blew me away. I think this book is a must read for anyone responsible for motivating those under them, from employers and managers to teachers and parents. I recommend it highly.

Carly lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their two cats. Her favorite thing to do is to curl up by a window with a library book. When she isn’t reading, she’s usually writing on her blog at www.beingcarly.com.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Riverhead Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.