Money Or Job Satisfaction: What Motivates Employees More?

Is money the real motivator behind employee engagement and productivity?

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The assumption has always been that the more money a person is offered, the harder they will work. While money is often a key motivator behind accepting a job offer or promotion, it may not be a sustainable one. In fact, money may not be a long-term motivator for most people within the workforce. 

Sure, employees love to be rewarded for their work and sacrifice, to know that their demanding schedules will reap financial benefits, but it isn’t the only reason they remain dedicated to their role, job, or workplace. 

‘Perks’ and employee engagement

Providing a competitive salary might entice to begin with, but more often than not, it won’t guarantee high levels of engagement or productivity. Many workplaces opt for employee ‘perks’ in the belief that it will motivate their employees and increase levels of engagement. From competitions to ‘Happy Hours’ to study reimbursements – the more on offer, the more employees offer — or do they?

While offering employees fun and helpful perks lets them know you appreciate their efforts, gimmicky incentives can wear thin after a while. In short, the novelty wears off. Employees accustomed to regular workplace benefits can experience a lack of engagement, and such incentives can actually demotivate staff. 

The reason? Employees crave more than perks to remain committed to and engaged with their job. 

The key to long-term employee motivation

While paying competitively and offering a suite of benefits to your workers are vital tools to create a better workplace environment, there are other ways to motivate and retain employees

Workers crave recognition and they crave growth. It doesn’t matter if they’re earning above-award wages, if they feel dissatisfied within their job then money will fail to maintain motivation over the long term. 

A poll conducted by Robert Walters revealed that 91% of millennials (the largest generation within the current workforce) regard career progression as their top source of motivation at work.

Companies are beginning to realize that while perks and promotions have their place, real employee sustainability comes from providing employees growth opportunities and work satisfaction. 

The relationship between salary and job satisfaction

Money does not buy employee satisfaction or engagement. There is a whole host of factors that play into how to make and keep a person motivated at their job. While the motivational aspects of money are well-documented, the idea that higher income leads to higher levels of job satisfaction is not without debate. 

Motivated employees are happy employees. Satisfaction may come in part due to salary, but for long-term performance it also is sourced from things like developmental opportunities, formal or on-the-job training, being recognized, being challenged, and being equipped with the right tools to help them do their job well. 

At heart, workers need to have a clear understanding of what their contribution is doing for your company overall. Money is obviously important, but you also should be paying attention to how your workers can source satisfaction from other areas. If there are no opportunities for growth, employees can easily become complacent. No amount of money can motivate them to do better or work harder if they view their workday as a series of mundane tasks that has them locked in a type of human-mouse wheel. 

This is why it’s important for organizations to keep their employees’ job satisfaction levels high, less they seek greener pastures elsewhere. 

Job satisfaction allows your workers to focus on how much they enjoy coming into the office each day and doing their job. Instead of working for the sake of working or working for the big fat paycheck, they have something else to be motivated by and consequently add even more value to your company. But how does one go about doing that?

Investing in employee job satisfaction

Companies with the most engaged employees are the ones that allow for the most job satisfaction. Such measures companies can take to increase employee job satisfaction and motivation include providing purposeful work, giving them training to further excel within their role, providing honest feedback and recognition where it’s due, and investing in the long-term career development that will positively affect employee engagement, motivation, and productivity. 

While financial incentives are key motivators for people at work, most employees require intrinsic rewards to stay motivated over the long-term. Job satisfaction, the opportunity to develop and grow within a role or workplace, being regularly challenged, and being acknowledged for a job well done are all ways employees feel a sense of engagement and purpose within their role. 

By providing a satisfying work experience, companies can more effectively retain employees, keep staff motivated, and deliver better results over the years. Money has its place as does workplace ‘perks’, but if employees aren’t feeling a sense of purpose or satisfaction with their work, motivation levels and employee engagement will remain low. What can you do to help improve job satisfaction among your staff today? 

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