Money Doesn’t Motivate – So What Does?

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Money Doesn’t Motivate – So What Does?

In conversations with leaders, the topic of motivating staff often comes up.  Either the company has gone through some lean times, or there is constant pressure on budgets.  In some cases it’s about a war on talent and retaining your best staff.  Other times it’s that leaders have asked their people to keep giving that bit extra of staff to make it through the challenge.

To combat any of the above one option is bonus’s and pay rises.  And given some of the above challenges the extra cash may not even be available.  Which isn’t as bad as it seems.  Frederick Herzberg said donkey’s years ago, pay is a hygiene factor and not a motivator.  Without it you’ve got serious problems, but there is a point beyond which it doesn’t motivate or engage staff.

In fact Lord Richard Layard wrote a book Happiness – Lessons from a new science.  Research shows that there is a fiscal point above which earning anymore doesn’t make you happier.  If memory serves me right it’s £25K.

Beyond the money

Here are some of the things that increase employee engagement

  • Achievement
  • Recognition
  • Responsibility
  • Autonomy
  • Promotion / Career Progression
  • Learning and Development
  • Strong Relationships / Team work
  • Flexible Working

These softer, more intrinsic aspects are what we should ensure are present.  Typically when they aren’t, that’s when people start demanding more money.  It’s a sign that they don’t feel valued but are at a loss to put in place the intrinsic factors, so the tangible cash solution is a sticking plaster that patches things up for a while.

As the profits increase staff will, quite rightly, expect a share of that somehow.  And if you can’t offer cash bonus’s get creative.  Use the money you do have to invest in ensuring the more intangible, intrinsic motivators are present, then the results are often far higher than a pure cash solution.

Creative Resources

Some of the intrinsic elements I mention above won’t require a lot of money, if any at all.  They will take up some of your time and energy.  Even something like learning and development doesn’t have to cost.  There are so many sources of good material, that you can use to stimulate discussion.  And following that discussion, agree action and support them in implementing it.

In fact you might find that it’s a good thing to practice before you do invest money on their learning and development.  They’ll already be in the habit of thinking, and applying, which means when you do ‘send’ them on a paid course they’re going to implement something from it, rather than see it as a jolly day out of the office.

What Next?

Let me give you a starter for ten, watch this video from Daniel Pink and ask yourself what can I implement in my team right now?

And when you are contemplating the right time to invest in your leaders, we have some tips to consider so that again you invest wisely.

There are of course other things your employees look for from you as a leader.  We share 5 of the things you should be doing in this article.

Lastly here is more inspiration on ways of engaging your staff.


2020-03-27T13:06:38+00:00By |Business, Growth, Leadership, Podcast|
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