April 2014: Money is the only TRUE Motivator

April Fools!!  Money is not the best motivator.  Certainly, you need to pay someone what they are worth (fair market salary, decent benefits, etc).  Plus, everyone likes a little bonus every now and then.  But…study after study proves that after a certain income level (and that does vary by location a bit) money is not a primary motivator nor will make someone try harder or become more loyal or engaged.  Money simply satisfies the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  It does nothing to address higher order needs of belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.


The REAL title of this month’s 90-Second In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) blog is:

Motivating WITHOUT Money.


So why then do managers at all levels use money and monetary bonuses as incentives and rewards?  It is crutch pure and simple.  The default.  It is lazy and lacking creativity.  The reality is that the good old fashioned pat on the back (FREE) or public acknowledgement of a job well done (FREE) goes widely unused. A challenging assignment, being on a winning team, or an inspirational mission statement are mistakenly discounted.


When I recently published my articles on “Motivating Millennials” many folks wrote to me and said “forget millennials – that would motivate me!”.  None of them talked about money.


This month I am sharing a few articles that discuss true motivation.  Motivating without money. If you are a new manager, or an old one still using money as a crutch to reward – Do yourself a favor and type “motivating without money” into google and read a few of the articles. For starters, enjoy these I picked out.


– Tom Deierlein


10 Things Employees Want More Than a Raise (via Inc)

“Contrary to popular belief, employees value many things more than the amount of money they’re being paid.  If they’re treated right, employees will not only work for less, they’ll be happier and more productive as they do so.”
1. To feel proud.
2. To be treated fairly.
3. To respect the boss.
4. To be heard out.
5. To have a personal life.
6. To be coached not micromanaged.
7. To see the assh*les get fired.
8. To feel less stress.
9. To have a little security.
10. To beat the competition.


Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us (via Dan Pink at RSA)

Adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace. Video is a little long at 10:47 minutes but worth it.



Motivating people: Getting beyond money (via McKinsey)

“Numerous studies have concluded that for people with satisfactory salaries, some nonfinancial motivators are more effective than extra cash in building long-term employee engagement in most sectors, job functions, and business contexts.”


Money isn’t always the biggest motivator. Here’s a look at what your employees really want (via Entrepreneur)



What motivates us at work? 7 fascinating studies that give insights (via TED)

1. Seeing the fruits of our labor may make us more productive
2. The less appreciated we feel our work is, the more money we want to do it
3. The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it
4. Knowing that our work helps others may increase our unconscious motivation
5. The promise of helping others makes us more likely to follow rules
6. Positive reinforcement about our abilities may increase performance
7. Images that trigger positive emotions may actually help us focus


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