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Money Isn’t Everything: What Truly Motivates Employees

What does it mean to be successful? Is success defined by happiness or riches? Or are the two inextricably intertwined? These questions have often dogged employers in their efforts to understand employee motivation.

The truth is, many people can love a job that pays very little, and hate a job that pays very well. But when an employee loves what they do, they’ll naturally strive to be successful at it. They’ll work harder and longer, think more creatively, and do whatever it takes to get things done.

Motivation – the drive to succeed – is derived from the passion one has for their work. In fact, according to Motivation-Hygiene Theory, pay loses its lustre as a motivating factor after it reaches a certain level. Instead, pay can be characterized as a hygiene factor. This means that, while insufficient pay to meet even basic needs would make any job dissatisfying, increased pay beyond “adequate” levels does not substantially add to motivation.

Does this mean employees should be paid less? Of course not. What it means is that many employees value more than just a decent income when it comes to their jobs. Over time, they require other motivators, such as acknowledgement, opportunities for advancement, and enjoyment.

Organizations often focus on the bottom line as a measure of success, but it’s important to remember that, at the individual level, success is often about much more than money. And when an employer recognizes those motivators and does what they can to nurture them, they invest not only in the individual successes of their employees, but also in the success of their workforce as a whole.

Source: Jenni Chelenyak, Technical Recruiter and Onsite Manager for TRW Automotive at Adecco.

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