No, Working Is NOT All About The Money

We like things — good food, new clothes, cool cars, and nice houses.

We also like fun — going out with friends and taking a vacation.

But how much influence do you have at work to motivate your employees with new things and a good time? Not everyone can be Oprah. You can’t give away a new car every time you need a project completed.

In the Six Sources of Influence, these “things” fall into the structural motivation category.

The most standard way to capitalise on structural motivation for your employees is with a paycheque. Then, people can use that paycheque to buy whatever things personally motivate them — maybe it’s food for the family, or maybe it’s that awesome car they’ve been eying.

But you can use these external motivators even more. Yes, the routine pay cheque is definitely a motivating factor, but if you want to increase employee engagement you can take it a step further.

Real motivation doesn’t come from the money — it comes from what you can do with the money. To increase motivation, you have to connect the money to your employees’ goals.

Here’s how it worked for “The House of Pain”.

Connecting Money to Personal Motivation

People don’t love processing chicken. Nonetheless, it’s a job.

At a particular meat processing plant, known by the local community as “The House of Pain,” people aren’t naturally motivated by personal or social fulfilment. If you ask people why they work at the House of Pain, the say, “For the money.”

So we asked, “What do you do with the money?”

“Pay off last week’s payday loan.”

“What else?”

“I usually spend the rest of it Friday night or Saturday.”

For most employees at the House of Pain, they worked for the money, but the money was gone as soon as they got it.

So, we decided to talk with them about their goals. We sat down with individual employees and asked, “Can you imagine saving your money to take a vacation with your spouse?”

“Well, that’d be nice!”

“How about buying a car? We’re one of the biggest employers in town, and we have a few car dealerships. We could create a plan for you to save up enough in six months to have a nice car.”

“Wow! That’d be great!”

“Have you ever thought of owning a home? We could help you.”

Vacations, cars, and homes are all “things”… but these things motivate people much more than undesignated money.

Increasing structural motivation doesn’t always mean increasing pay — it means increasing the value of what people are working for. People like cars, homes, and vacations because these things are personally enjoyable — they’re a source of personal motivation.

When structural influences also become personal influences, they gain value.

Connecting Money To Social Motivation

When we sat down with these employees and helped them identify their long-term goals, we started tapping into another source of influence — social influence.

As we planned together, they realised we were on the same team. The more people feel a part of the team, the more intrinsically motivated they are in their work.

We were helping them reach their goals through our connections and planning services. They worked for the company every day, but now the company would also work for them.

More Money ≠ More Motivation

Spending time with your family, enjoying that new car, or finally being able to afford a nice place to live is much more motivating than figures on a bank statement.

We often start with structural motivation alone, but we need to connect money to things that also bring personal enjoyment and social connection.

If you want to increase employee engagement, how can you connect money to the things people really want to do?

How can you support them in reaching those goals?

Money alone won’t motivate employees. If you want your employees to engage in their work, find ways to motivate in all three spheres: structural, social, and personal. When you do, their motivation will soar.

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