Employee Compensation Part Three: Money is the Real Motivator

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Last week we argued that other forms of compensation, not money, are the greatest motivators to keep employees engaged and satisfied. This week: "SHOW ME THE MONEY!"

People say "money doesn't buy happiness." But let me ask you a question: If you couldn't afford a home, a car, insurance, clothing, school supplies, home supplies, FOOD, jackets for the winter, healthcare, (I could go on and on..) would you be happy?

My guess is the answer would be no. Yes, health is probably the most important thing to almost everyone on this planet. But if we didn't have money to afford health care, medicine, copays and more, would we be able to maintain our health? Let's face it: staying healthy is expensive.

Most everyone who lives outside of the city needs a mode of transportation. Now imagine if you couldn't afford a car or even cab/bus fare for that matter to take your children to their sports events, to take your dog to the vet or to go to the grocery store.

You get the point—money is important. But is it a motivator?

Here's an interesting tidbit: one in five employees report that their work is impacted by their personal financial situations and 37 percent report that they spend three hours or more at work each week dealing with their personal finances. If employees were to receive a bonus or a pay raise, perhaps that percentage would decrease and their engagement and productivity at work would increase?

Money can be a stress reliever, and stress affects all aspects of our lives, work in particular. If an employer were to give out raises or bonuses, or use money as an incentive of some sort, it could give a sense of ease and relaxation to employees and allow them more time to focus on work and less time focusing on the financial problems in their lives. A common mindset is that money solves problems, and truthfully it does in some cases: whether you need maintenance on your car, need to pay your mortgage, need to pay your heat bill, sign your children up for swimming lessons etc., once you pay for these things, a sense of ease and satisfaction takes over.

Decreasing that stress for employees—those 3+ hours a week sitting at his/her desk pretending to work but secretly freaking out about how to pay the bills—can do wonders for productivity and motivation on the workplace. Do you disagree?

Think about how often you get distracted at the office by your personal finances. Ok—now take that number and apply it to every single one of your employees. Adds up pretty quickly doesn't it? Many of our personal issues stem from feeling pressure about our finances. Once an employee feels control over his/her personal life, he/she can check those issues at the door and take control of his/her work life.

I claim that money is the real motivator because as much as we hate to admit it, we all need it and we all love it. Yes, other benefits and perks are great. But why do we get jobs in the first place? Do we have this strong desire to spend eight or nine hours a day looking at spreadsheets? Not really. We need money to survive and to support our lifestyles.

So what do you think? Does money motivate you, or are there other factors that mean more to you when it comes to staying happy and engaged at work?

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Guest February 27 2017
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