Discovering the individualized reasons people work is key to helping employers understand what will motivate employees.
According to the article "What People Want from Work: Motivation" on the website The Balance, successful companies need to start with money. Paying employees fair compensation, or ideally more than fair, brings the talent in and reduces the risk of losing great employees. Money helps employees check off responsibilities ranging from taking care of the most basic necessities to enjoying hobbies to long-term planning for retirement.
Turns out, it takes more than money, though.
While many managers assumed money is the biggest factor, it is only one part of an ecosystem of motivation. Knowing that there are other reasons that get people up and out of bed to head to work can help employers better meet employee needs.
What were some of those factors?
Personal time and attention from a manager, the opportunity to feel known and praised for good work, was the top motivator for workers. Being valued, it turns out, can be as valuable as monetary compensation.
What's more, people want to see that the opposite is also true. Lack of consequences and failure to discipline for not performing is cited as a main demotivator, along with paying those less successful workers the same wage.
Beyond fair pay and managerial recognition, what other factors did workers mention? More control over work, including feeling like they have a say in decision making and goal setting, was one element. Likewise, a feeling of control over schedules and work environments also mattered. Flexibility is a major motivator for many employees.
Another motivator surrounded opportunity. Both growth opportunities within a role and opportunities for advancement in an institution ranked highly for employees. Access to education and training as well as understanding succession planning and what was needed to be promoted (and that promotions were possible) impact morale and retention.
The big takeaway? While motivation is different for every employee, it is potentially easier than you think to understand what will motivate your employees. Ask them. Many easy, low-cost options abound which, if done well, free up time and money from other efforts that may not yield the assumed results. Pay attention, and you'll find yourself working with motivated, engaged people.