sealPurdue News

June 1999

Purdue expert: Big money, perks don't always motivate

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Good managers intuitively know that different things motivate different employees, says a Purdue University human resource expert, but putting a tailored plan into action is not as easy as it sounds.

David Schoorman, who teaches human resource management at Purdue's Krannert School of Management, also consults extensively with industry. Schoorman says the structured "one-size-fits-all" corporate compensation plan can trip up even the most responsive, creative manager.

"A real challenge for supervisors and managers today is to figure out how to be that bridge between the standard benefit list of 'what you get' and what really motivates you as an employee," Schoorman says. "People putting together compensation and benefit plans often underestimate the value of growth opportunities, both professional and personal, as motivational tools."

Still, all is not lost, says Schoorman. Creative managers can work within a company structure to keep employees motivated. In addition to the standard financial rewards and days off, he offers these tips:

  • Offer seminars and courses that nurture self-esteem and personal growth.
  • Give employees challenging tasks that allow for visibility and professional growth.
  • For more social employees, make team or group work situations available.

Above all, says Schoorman, supervisors and managers need to build and maintain individual relationships with employees.

"That's the only true way to know what does motivate them." he says.

CONTACT: Schoorman, (765) 494-4391;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page