Changes in Motivational Priorities:

Changes in Motivational Factors:

The change in the economic outlook has had an interesting impact on how employees rate their “Motivational Factors” at work.  First, some background:

There are two types of motivators—Intrinsic and Extrinsic.  Extrinsic factors include material rewards such as: bonuses; gift cards; trips; pay increases; etc.  The “Carrot at the end of the stick” so to speak.

Intrinsic factors “come from within” and include: satisfying work; a sense of accomplishment; feeling “in” on things; having input in decisions; feeling like you belong; etc.

Extrinsic factors are valuable, but tend to be short-lived.  As soon as the reward is achieved, the person looks for another form of material reward.

Intrinsic factors tend to be nearly cost-free and yet have a much longer lasting effect on the individual.  As a result, focusing on intrinsic factors will have a better return for your management effort and will be more motivating to the employee.

A blend of both types of motivators is desirable and a clear understanding of the impact of each is extremely important to your overall efforts to reward and motivate your staff.


Back to the change in ratings…

Typically when employees are surveyed on their “Top Motivators at Work” we find that intrinsic factors such as “Feeling ‘In’ on Things”; “Rewarding Work”; “Opportunities for Promotion” tend to be at the top of their list.  In recent surveys done within businesses that I have worked with, we have seen some interesting differences.  Now it seems that “Job Security” and “Good Wages” have floated to the top in some parts of the country.  This is not surprising given the economic climate, but does reflect the changes in attitude that people are having about their jobs.

What it means:

1.      Short term, there is a shift towards needing to confirm the basic elements of a job—Am I paid enough?  Is my job secure? Does my boss like me?  Where do I stand with the company? Etc.

2.      When people feel insecure about their job it can be a major distraction to their work.  They may spend “more time around the water cooler” discussing personal problems or trying to confirm the status of the company.  If it is extreme, they can become a safety hazard and perform at an unacceptable level.

3.      Their confidence can go down, which can lead to poor performance, unacceptable attitudes, criticism of others and uncharacteristic moodiness.

4.      Their lack of security could have other effects on other performance, and issues such as a lack of attention to detail, carelessness, poor communication, etc. could arise.

What we should do:

1.      Promote a sense of security by spending more time with your employees and making yourself more available to them.  Be more visible.

2.      Ask your employees questions about how they are doing, any concerns they may have, and their overall feelings about their job, the company and their sense of security.

3.      Keep them updated.  If the business is going through a rough patch, let them know and give them some coaching on what they can do to help the bottom line.

4.      Praise more.  When employees get regular recognition it gives them a sense that their job is secure and their boss is not avoiding them.

5.      Show your appreciation.  Write an occasional note that tells someone they did a good job—be specific and brief.  Notice when an employee goes out of their way to do something extra. 

6.      Encourage employees to thank their coworkers and praise them.  It’s not just the boss’s job to encourage employees.

For a copy of a very simple “Top Motivators” survey for your employees, send an e-mail to: and I will forward a copy for you to use with your staff.


Don Tyler