Every person has different motivations for working. The
reasons for working are as individual as the person. But, we all work because
we obtain something that we need from work. The something we obtain from work
impacts our morale and motivation and the quality of our lives. Here is the
most recent thinking about motivation, what people want from work.
Work IS About the Money
people work for love; others work for personal fulfillment. Others like to
accomplish goals and feel as if they are contributing to something larger than
themselves, something important. Some people have personal missions they
accomplish through meaningful work. Others truly love what they do or the
clients they serve. Some like the camaraderie and interaction with customers
and coworkers. Other people like to fill their time with activity. Some workers
like change, challenge, and diverse problems to solve. Motivation is individual
your personal reasons for working, the bottom line, however, is that almost
everyone works for money. Whatever you call it: compensation, salary, bonuses,
benefits or remuneration, money pays the bills. Money provides housing, gives
children clothing and food, sends teens to college, and allows leisure
activities, and eventually, retirement. To underplay the importance of money
and benefits as motivation for people who work is a mistake.
benefits and pay are the cornerstone of a successful company that recruits and
retains committed workers. If you provide a living wage for your employees, you
can then work on additional motivation issues. Without the fair, living wage, however,
you risk losing your best people to a better-paying employer.
fact, recent research from Watson Wyatt Worldwide in The Human Capital Edge:
21 People Management Practices Your Company Must Implement (or Avoid) to
Maximize Shareholder Value, recommends, that to attract the best employees,
you need to pay more than your average-paying counterparts in the marketplace.
Money provides basic motivation.
Got Money? What’s Next for Motivation?
read the surveys and studies dating back to the early 1980s that demonstrate
people want more from work than money. An early study of thousands of workers
and managers by the American Psychological Association clearly demonstrated this.
While managers predicted the most important motivational aspect of work for
people would be money, personal time and attention from the supervisor was
cited by workers as most rewarding and motivational for them at work.
recent Workforce article, “The Ten Ironies of Motivation,”
reward and recognition guru, Bob Nelson, says, “More than anything else,
employees want to be valued for a job well done by those they hold in high
esteem.” He adds that people want to be treated as if they are adult human
what people want from work is situational, depending on the person, his needs
and the rewards that are meaningful to him, giving people what they want from
work is really quite straight forward. People want:
of their work inspires motivation:
including such components as the ability to impact decisions; setting clear and
measurable goals; clear responsibility for a complete, or at least defined,
task; job enrichment; tasks performed in the work itself; and recognition for
belong to the in-crowd creates motivation: including items such as receiving timely information and
communication; understanding management’s formulas for decision making; team
and meeting participation opportunities; and visual documentation and posting
of work progress and accomplishments.
opportunity for growth and development is motivational: and includes education and training; career paths; team
participation; succession p[planning; cross-training; and field trips to
is key in motivation.
People want clear expectations that provide a picture of the outcomes desired
with goal setting and feedback and an appropriate structure or framework.
Recognition for Performance Creates Motivation
Human Capital Edge, authors Bruce Pfau and Ira Kay say that people want
recognition for their individual performance with pay tied to their
performance. Employees want people who don’t perform fired; in fact, failure to
discipline and fire non-performers is one of the most demotivating actions an
organization can take – or fail to take. It ranks on the top of the list next
to paying poor performers the same wage as non-performers in deflating motivation.
the authors found that a disconnect continues to exist between what employers
think people want at work and what people say they want for motivation.
“Employers far underrate the importance to employees of such things as
flexible work schedules or opportunities for advancement in their decision to
join or leave a company.
means that many companies are working very hard (and using scarce resources) on
the wrong tools,” say Pfau and Kay. (p. 32) People want employers to pay
them above market rates. They seek flexible work schedules. They want stock
options, a chance to learn, and the increased sharing of rationale behind
management decisions and direction.
What You Can Do for Motivation and Positive Morale
You have much information about what people want from
work. Key to creating a work environment that fosters motivation are the wants
and needs of the individual. I recommend that you ask your employees what they
want from work and whether they are getting it. With this information in hand,
I predict you’ll be surprised at how many simple and inexpensive opportunities
you have to create a motivational, desirable work environment. Pay attention to
what is important to the people you employ for high motivation and positive
morale. You’ll achieve awesome business success.
Susan M. Heathfield