When you ask "What motivates you in the workplace?" a quick-fire response is often "Money" but is that really true?   Of course, we all need money and if we don’t have it then life can become very difficult. However, I am not talking about that, I am talking about what really motivates us and it may be surprising for you to hear, but money isn’t the number one!

I believe that motivation is so essential for us as human beings.  I believe that people who struggle in life are actually demotivated.  This could be a behaviour pattern they have developed or conditioned when they are young. Furthermore, society doesn’t help with a need for a level playing field.  We are motivated by challenges and the need to do better; this is an essential part of our make-up as human beings.

Most managers believe that if they offer staff more money, then that will motivate them. However, research shows that isn’t true. A major HR study which asked employees to rank their top ten motivators found that while managers predicted their employers would be most motivated by salary, pension, etc. the top five reasons had nothing to do with money and were in fact:

Interesting work – staff want exciting work to do, we are intrinsically motivated by the thought of getting involved and finding solutions to problems.

Involved in decisions – when staff feel they are being listened to they think they are making a difference. When ownership is experienced in the decision-making process, we want to experience it again.

Feedback – staff should be told when they are doing a great job and also when development is required. When done correctly we want to experience this again.

Training – personal development is essential for growth and improvement.  We are motivated further when we complete a course or qualification.

Respect – staff who are respected feel a level of esteem that motivates them further. They feel respected by colleagues and management, and this promotes a need to feel it again.

The money related reasons came in between 6 – 10!

The reality is that money is important, but it is not the number one driver.  The top five are easy to implement and require a decision from those involved in the management process.  Look at the best companies to work for around the world, and I guarantee you they will have the top five as part of their daily process.

Ralph Moody is the founder of Target Training and specialises in trainer and management development.  You can read more about him here.  To see courses where Ralph delivers see our website here.