Posted By: Kristen Brownholtz

Successful managers know what motivates their employees, and, surprisingly, it’s not always what they think.

Money is often a factor, but when finance professionals are asked to list what motivates them at work, career growth opportunities and doing something meaningful often rank higher than salary. In fact, in a 2011 survey of Millennials (between the ages of 21-31), only 27 percent rated money as the No. 1 priority. “Meaningful work,” was the top motivator for this group.

Similar surveys of other finance professionals show similar results. Often an employee is willing to work toward a position s/he really wants. Take advantage of this drive to encourage employees to learn new skills and gain new experiences. Young employees are leaders in training and desire is a powerful motivator.
Other motivators include feeling good about the work they are doing, recognition for the work they do, feeling that they did a good day’s work and paid personal time off. Additionally, resolving problems and finding solutions are significant driving forces as well. 

According to Gallup research from 2012, employee disengagement within the U.S. workforces costs businesses an estimated $300 billion. Negative attitudes and low morale can have a company-wide effect.

For managers, understanding what drives employees can affect both performance and attitude and is imperative to a company’s overall success. Building on key motivators can create energetic, engaged employees and positive workplace morale. Understanding motivators beyond salary can also help attract top talent event when you can’t put them at the top of the pay scale.

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