Dozens of studies have demonstrated that money is not the number one motivator of employees. Pay rarely shows up in the top three or four motivators. In many studies, appreciation, independence, meaningful work, and opportunities for development are shown to be more powerful drivers of motivation and retention than salary.

So why do so many supervisors over-rate money as a motivator? And why do employees always ask for more money?

Here are a few reasons.

Employees ask for more money because money is easy to talk about—it is easier to ask for and much easier to know if you are getting it.

Employees may be experiencing a lot of frustration with the “softer” issues but can’t quite nail them down or formulate them as concrete demands / requests. “May I please have 8% more appreciation, 10% more development opportunities, 12% more meaning in my work, and at least 7% better collaboration and camaraderie on my team?” Employees don’t make requests like that and managers rarely make offers like that—despite the fact that employees are yearning for those things, and research has shown that they are deeply satisfying and motivating.

Pay, further, seems like a fair compensation for lousy working conditions. But it is not. People rarely strive for peak performance for money alone; and talented employees won’t stick around if working conditions are bad. When your best performers leave, you are stuck with your worst performers.

Some managers do such a poor job of showing appreciation, empowering employees, and giving employees opportunities for growth that employees have given up asking for these things. I.e., their expectations of us are so low, that they don’t even bother asking anymore. They just slack off or take their skills elsewhere.

We sometimes have to pay more to attract employees but the extra pay won’t motivate them to work harder—especially employees that only came to us for more pay.

Ask yourself this: If you gave everyone a blanket 10% pay raise, would they work any harder? And if so, for how long?

Intrinsic motivation: 

Deeper, longer lasting motivation comes from within, not without.

If you are trying to motivate your team by micro-managing them, “forcing” them to work hard through close supervision and pressure, or with little treats and bribes, they will slack off every time you turn your back, and will never be as motivated as they could be.

If you want your employees to really be engaged in their work and care about your clients, then you have to tap into their internal motivators—great reasons people would want (choose) to work really hard for you, above and beyond fear of being punished for mistakes or being caught slacking off.

You can force employees to work hard but you can’t force them to care about their work or your clients.


Treat people like adults. Show them trust and respect and earn their trust and respect in return. Help them do meaningful work and make a difference. Help people be successful in their jobs and design their jobs so that when they are successful, the business benefits. Now that’s a great way to generate employee performance and earn their loyalty.


If you believe that people are static (at rest, not in motion, passive, lazy), then motivation is all about prodding people into action. This is, however, a false assumption. People are already in motion. They are active and dynamic—always already thinking and doing. People thrive on being busy and tend to drive themselves crazy when they get bored and have no outlet for their natural energy and creativity. Being bored leads to complacency, carelessness, distraction, and so on. As we all know, of course, the point is not merely to keep employees busy but to engage on the priorities of the business.

Consider the enormous amount of positive and productive energy people pour into their hobbies, families, and friends. They don’t need to be prodded into action. Our challenge is to find ways to guide their energy & curiosity toward meaningful activity at work—the challenges and opportunities of the business.

People crave meaning and significance. The most motivating thing you could ever do for employees is to help them understand how meaningful their work is and open the door to new possibilities for meaningful thought and action.


You can force employees to work hard but you can’t force them to care about their work or your clients.

Don’t think of motivation as something you do to someone else. Rather, work with your employees to create an environment in which they can motivate themselves and in which motivated employees can succeed. Engage your employees in creating a great work environment and doing big things.

Engage your employees by making them part of the solution.

Motivation 2

Advanture helps organizations take their leadership development practices up to the next level for enhanced business performance. Performance by design!

Copyright © 2014 Advanture Consulting, all rights reserved.

Advanture Consulting
Making strategy stick!
Tel: (866) 860-4880
Email: contact@AdvantureConsulting.com   
Web: www.AdvantureConsulting.com
Blog: http://AdvantureConsulting.com/blog/ 


Toll Free1-866-860-4880


AddressSuite 3, 6005 - 11 Street SE
Calgary, AB
T2H 2Z3