To what extent does money motivate people in the workplace?
Certainly, money is the reason why most people come to work in the first place but once they are there, is it really a key motivator? My own experience is that for most people it is primarily a short-term motivator. Consider if your employer awarded you a 25% bonus tomorrow. Sure, it would be nice and you would probably feel pretty motivated but for how long? When would the effects of that bonus wear off and other factors become more important to you?
What about if a new employer offered to double your salary? Would you accept the job without qualification? What if they wanted you to relocate? What if they wanted you to work seven days a week? What if they were financially unstable? I’m guessing that while the extra money would be attractive, it wouldn’t be the sole motivation.
When money does tend to be a primary motivator is when current earnings are not enough to sustain a reasonable lifestyle. If someone is struggling to pay their mortgage or feed their family, money is never very far from their agenda. But once our earnings are sufficient to take care of our core lifestyle requirements, it is rarely the primary thing that motivates us.
Simon Cooper is Chief Executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader and architect of the Brilliant Leadership workshops.
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