Emotional Salary is the non-financial or emotional gains we obtain from working that motivate us, change our perception of work and lead to personal and professional development.

Take our Emotional Salary Barometer™

Improve Motivation to Work With Non-Financial Motivators

How does somebody stay motivated at work? To know this, firstly, you have to discover the real reason behind their lack of motivation to work.

Could they be trying to motivate themselves to do something that they don’t particularly enjoy or care that much about?

In a professional context, we don’t always have control over the tasks that we need to do but it is up to ourselves to make sure that we are in a job that we like and enjoy. It is also up to our managers and leaders to shape our working environment into somewhere that we enjoy being and in which we can grow professionally and personally.

What leads to someone’s success is when they spend time focusing on their internal motivators such as Inspiration, Direction, or Mastery. Focusing on internal motivators like these can make your employees much more effective and efficient when it comes to completing external tasks for work.

The reason for this being is that when we spend time working on ourselves and doing things to improve our internal wellbeing, this presents itself on the outside in the form of confidence, happiness and security. All of these elements are key to increasing our performance in the workplace and therefore, our motivation to work.

Financial Motivators Can Lead To Negativity


Many organisations implement financial motivators as their only way of encouraging their employees to improve their performance, however, research shows that motivation born from financial incentives tend to fade after a couple of months suggesting that these types of external motivators are not always very sustainable.

Before going further, we want to first clarify that non-financial motivators should NOT be a replacement for your financial salary. Rather, they should be a complement to it.

As Dan Pink once said, “the best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. Pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money, they’re thinking about the work”.

Money is often only a good motivator in the beginning. Employees want to also feel recognised, valued, trusted and given a place to apply their skills and grow in a positive working environment. Introducing financial motivators in the workplace can result in negative competition between employees which can cause upset and potentially lead to a negative workplace. 

Non-financial motivation to work

If money were everything, then we wouldn’t have statistics like 60% of employees saying that they are more motivated by recognition than money (OC Tanner).

We have to keep in mind that it also does not continually motivate employees as most companies have limits to how much someone can earn through bonuses or financial incentives so it is often not a viable long-term option.

A Harvard Business Review report discusses how the consistent and long-term use of financial rewards can cause employees to become increasingly uninterested in their work by learning to require extrinsic incentives before expending effort.

Overusing financial incentives as a motivation-increasing tool is therefore not very beneficial to the company as employees will more than likely focus on just getting the necessary tasks completed in order to get their reward with little to no additional effort along the way. This discourages an atmosphere of innovation and creativity in the long-run.

So, when we are trying to increase motivation in the workplace, what are some ways we can do this using non-financial motivators?

Start by having a think about what the environment in the office was like (pre-Covid times). Was it joyful? Were people happy overall? Was there positive energy for the most part? 

Next, think about conversations that you have had with your colleagues and employees from all levels of the organisation, both formal and informal. Was there anything in those conversations that would give you an idea as to what might motivate them to do more and/or better work on a consistent basis?

Once you have an idea in your head, you can start implementing tools and practices that will confirm your thoughts or help you brainstorm new ideas.

One of the ways we do this with organisations is through an online tool called the Emotional Salary Barometer. It is an anonymous tool completed by each individual within the team or company and the results are analysed as a whole to find patterns and commonalities. With this data, you can then recognise key areas within your team(s) that could be looked at for improvement.

Different People Require Different Motivators


Everyone is motivated by different things and until we actually ask our employees what motivates them as individuals, we shouldn’t make the assumption that what works for one will work for all.

There are 10 different types of internal factors that can contribute to our wellbeing and motivation to work. Individuals can be affected by and relate to these at varying levels so as managers and leaders it is important for us to understand what they are and how to incorporate them into the work environment so that each employee has access to which one(s) they need the most.

The 10 factors are:

  1. Autonomy: The opportunity to have freedom in a work context, in which the person feels respected and trusted as a competent individual who is provided with the space to choose and manage their own organisational style, projects, and time on a basis that is congruent with their own values.
  2. Belonging: Having a sense of connection with the team, organisation or peers. Being acknowledged, appreciated, valued and identified with the role that is played within the work system.
  3. Creativity: The opportunity for exploration, development and expression of original, different and/or innovative ways of doing things, allowing personalisation of work.
  4. Direction: The opportunity to view, create and choose a career path, together with the ability to make and contribute to decisions that affect your career.
  5. Enjoyment: The opportunity to experience pleasure and diversion and have relaxed, respectful, trusting and authentic social interactions that allow for spontaneity, appropriate humour and play.
  6. Inspiration: The opportunity to be aligned with a person´s most profound values which generate connection with a sense of possibility and direction towards the best possible work.
  7. Mastery: The opportunity to gain a deeper understanding, finesse and knowledge over time in order to excel, gain greater expertise and an awareness of the subtleties of a profession.
  8. Personal Growth: The opportunity to gain self-awareness, learn from mistakes, become more reflective and flexible and learn from the work environment to develop those qualities that make us better human beings.
  9. Professional Growth: The opportunity to develop talents, skills and abilities through exposure to stimulating work and social opportunities such as peer exchange, mentoring and supervision whilst being able to reflect on and learn from mistakes.
  10. Purpose: Having a sense of ownership and significance derived from work and feeling that it contributes to your greater purpose and that of the organisation.

Motivation to Work Remotely


With working from home becoming the norm over the past year or so, you may be wondering if the aforementioned factors are still relevant with remote workers. The answer is YES!

If anything, they are even more important in the remote working context because we don’t have our usual external factors that automatically come with working in an office environment to fall back on. We are referring to things like workplace conversations by the water machine, going for walks with colleagues at lunch, having that break between work and home environments etc. 

When we don’t have external factors like those mentioned above to break up our day and bring happiness to our working world, we end up relying more on the internal motivators like purpose or creativity. The issue arises when we may not have been aware of these internal factors before or have ever worked on them so it can suddenly become difficult.

A good organisation will look to ensure that its employees are well looked after, externally and internally, the latter more so now in times of uncertainty and remote working.

To request a pilot test for your company to improve your employee’s motivation to work, especially now if they are still working remotely, contact us here.

One thought on “Improve Motivation to Work With Non-Financial Motivators

Leave a Reply


  Sign up to receive regular updates, tips, inspiration and strategies related to Emotional Salary direct to your inbox.