Why performance related pay is bad for the public sector

Glyn Lumley has written an excellent blog post entitled 10 reasons why performance-related pay should not be used in the public sector and I recommend reading it before proceeding with this post.

I would like to add reason 11, which is hinted at in Glyn’s reasons 8 and 9. He cites Daniel Pink and Alfie Kohn who have written about extrinsic motivation e.g. performance related pay, and intrinsic motivation e.g. joy in work. They both talk about the fact that extrinsic motivators in the form of rewards divert attention away from the purpose of the work and toward the gaining of the award. So introducing performance related pay would encourage staff to work for the extra pay rather than doing there work better for the benefit of the public.

Here is another nice post from Glyn which dovetails nicely with this topic: Um…I can’t take that, I cheated!

Let’s hope there isn’t an increase in performance related pay because it will lead to worse performance, and some people, sadly, will cheat.

And whose fault will it be?



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  1. glynlumley -

    Thanks Rob for highlighting my blog post.

    Of course, I agree with your #11 (and #12, #13 etc. if you wished to add to the list)

    Kind regards