What motivates most people to work hard? Hint: It’s not $$$

There’s got to be something about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning. That push that makes you roll over instead of hitting the snooze button the umpteenth time, that kick that gets you through idling traffic, that jolt that keeps you coming back even though there’s that one colleague or client whose lips you would love to staple closed. What motivates you at work? And most importantly, is your boss or organization providing it?

To find out what motivates people, Queendom took to its online visitors. After releasing the Career Motivation Test and collecting data from over 1,000 people of all ages and walks of life, here is what we uncovered:

Money didn’t crack the top 10 of our 23 different motivators. The top five motivators were:

  • Customer Orientation (desire to make customers happy)
  • Achievement (desire to work in a goal-oriented and challenging work environment)
  • Inspiration (desire to inspire others through one’s work)
  • Identity and Purpose (desire to work in a company/field that is in line with one’s values and ethics)
  • Fun & Enjoyment (desire to work in a position/corporate culture that is inherently entertaining)

Financial Reward, in the meantime, took the 12th spot.

I know human beings have depth. I’ve studied human behavior for a while now, and we have the capacity for amazing feats and for displays of remarkable kindness and altruism. But for money to be in 12th place with the desire to make customers happy taking the top spot was surprising to me. I remember the time I spent working in customer service. The only reason you ever want to make a customer happy is because they’ve spent the last ten minutes hollering at you and causing a scene, and you just want to get them out of your face. Yet, here was the proof.

Employees thrive on making customers happy. They love the feeling of being challenged – and overcoming that challenge. They want to inspire others through their work. This is what a lot of employees need to stay motivated, and unfortunately, a lot of organizations don’t recognize this. In fact, only 18% of the people in our study feel that their company motivates them effectively. That means that 72% of people are probably not very satisfied with their job and are not working to their fullest potential. If I were a manager reading this, I’d honestly be worried.

Even people who do get paid well still need motivation at work. This just comes to show that money really isn’t the be-all-to-end-all. People in our study who are in the highest economic bracket are motivated by factors like Change and Variety, Independence, Responsibility, Power and, interestingly, they also enjoy being in a very active and high-pressure work environment (think Oprah or Donald Trump). Those in the middle class were motivated by Stability, while those in the lower economic bracket only had Structure and Order as a motivator (desire for clear tasks, roles, and a structured hierarchy of employees). Again, money was not a significant motivator for any of these groups.

What do you think of these results? Are you surprised that money isn’t as important anymore? Share your comments below!

Join me for next week’s discussion on optimism!

Insightfully yours, Queen D

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4 thoughts on “What motivates most people to work hard? Hint: It’s not $$$

  1. “only 18% of the people in our study feel that their company motivates them effectively. That means that 72% of people are probably not very satisfied with their job”.

    Is the reaming 10% unemployed? 😉

  2. Pingback: I Love You, Warts And All | Queendom Blog

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