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Techonomy Events

Rypple’s Daniel Debow on Non-Monetary Employee Rewards

In this session from Techonomy 2011, in Tuscon, Ariz., Daniel Debow, co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple, argues that while money is an important indicator of success and value to employees, there are other factors, like recognition, that play a large role in employee satisfaction. Enterprise social networks can help companies reward employees in non-monetary ways, Debow suggests. Also appearing in this video: Citi’s Deborah Hopkins.

Debow: There’s another thing happening that these things start to bring to life, and maybe it’s a left turn in the conversation. It’s like there are more things that motivate people than money. Now, I’m not a communist, and I’m not suggesting that like there’s some sort of utopian thing. Money is very important. But, you know, Dan Pink has this great book out called Drive, and he sort of surveys a lot of good social science data that we’ve learned over the past little while. The pay-for-performance model, which is really why you wanted to get a better title, because you get paid more, sort of has great things about it. It has some serious limitations, and one of the things that is challenging about it is that it’s homogenous. It’s like this is the one thing that’s really most important that’s going to drive it. And people tend to see things in black and white. It’s either money is important or it’s not important. Well, it’s both, but we’ve only made room for this one thing. Arguably, some of the incentives in the financial services industry are really screwed up because we’ve so fixated on this one thing that it drives people to make decisions that are not good for the long term of their business or the economy or anything. And I think what you start to recognize is that oftentimes—high generality—but people who get to the top of organizations care a lot about money and they think everybody’s like them, like, “This is what’s really important; let’s build a system like this.” What’s starting to come out is it turns out people actually really care about recognition. They care about being recognized for having a great idea.  They care a lot about having connections. They care about having meaning at work: “I know what the hell’s going on.” And even the people you think are surprisingly just focused on money—I don’t know if you saw this, there was a piece in Harvard Business Review just recently, some data about salespeople—

Hopkins: Yes.

Debow: And it was astonishing, right?

Hopkins: Very much so.

Debow: Because when we talk about this people say, “Yeah, that’s fine, but not for salespeople.  They’re coin-operated.  They just care about money.”

Hopkins: Commission.

Debow: And they did this fantastic study and it says basically even salespeople will shift commissions to get less money, but in order to make president’s club. And every sales team has it, and president’s club is just recognition. It’s just, “Hey, you did a great job, you’re special, you’re awesome.” So I think what’s happening is like what we’re figuring out—you know, human beings are complex, fuzzy behavior. Like we’re starting to bring them into these companies, and I think these platforms are actually pretty powerful for sort of tweaking things that matter to people in different ways. It’s not just that one thing.

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