Anybody who has ever visited, or better yet worked in, an American box store (e.g. Walmart, K-Mart), will instantly recognize Employee of the Month (2006) as a comedy set in a common American workplace. It is the story of Zach Bradley, a box boy at Super Club, who goes through his work with negligible interest in his work or his company. On the other hand is Vince Downey, a head cashier who has won the last 17 Employee of the Month awards, and is committed to winning it once more so he can join the Hall of Fame and win a new car. Just when you think Vince is a winner and Zach is a loser, enter Amy- a new cashier transferring from another Super Club who has a reputation for dating only Employee of the Month awardees. Boy-meets-girl, and Vince and Zach become competitors for the award. After many twists and turns, Zach wins the award (as well as Amy).
The movie is a fantastic example of the role of motivation in influencing employee behavior and workplace commitment. Academics define motivation as the reason/s for engaging in a specific behavior. According to one theory, people can be either motivated by external (extrinsic motivation) or internal (intrinsic motivation) reasons. When intrinsically motivated, people do something because they want to. When extrinsically motivated, people do something for a reward to. Like with most psychological theories, there is an on-going debate between theorists who believe both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons are equally motivating, those who believe that one is better than other, and those who believe the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic reasons is absurd and meaningless.
In the movie, Zach ccould care less about extrinsic rewards such as the Employee of the Month award and the new car, while Vince is attracted to these external rewards. However, Amy’s entry changes things- Zach is attracted to her and is now intrinsically motivated to become the Employee of the Month so she would date him. The competition between Zach and Vince is hilarious and provides a great example of how people are differently affected by intrinsic and extrinsic reasons.