Here's another one for the incentives brainstorm...
Some quotes from a WSJ article entitled "New Grads Are Impatient for Promotions (originally from June 20, and available for 7 days):
"Twentysomethings are accustomed to meeting short-term goals in schools with quarter and semester systems. They expect to see results on the job just as quickly and when they don't, impatience sets in. The disgruntled say that they don't necessarily want more money, they want stimulating assignments that give meaning to their lives."
"Ryan Paugh, 23, is already concerned that he's wasting his life at his first full-time job. In January, the Flemington, N.J., resident started working as a contractor, with no benefits, in the communications department of a Fortune 500 company. Frequently, he finishes a day's work in three hours, he says. "You feel really useless." Up until recently, Mr. Paugh asked for more work from his boss every other day. "Once in a while they hand something off," he says. Now he doesn't ask so much."
"Nikhil Thakur was impatient after two years in his first job out of college, at a technology company. Three raises didn't dent his malaise. "The first one briefly made me turn a blind eye to other shortcomings," he says, "but each subsequent one did nothing to increase my job satisfaction." "
Are we in the midst of fundamental change in desires from new workers, or have companies been getting it wrong for a long time? How can companies provide incentives to these workers, given that increasing their responsibility doesn't seem to be an option? Are efficiency wages purely a monetary concept or could they be more broadly defined? The system must be somehow inefficient if at the same time there are companies wringing their hands trying to motivate workers to be productive and workers wishing that they could be given more to do.