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It takes more than coffee and money: New research reveals top work motivators that keep people going

Psychtests.com, one of the web's foremost sources of personality, career, and IQ assessments, unveils surprising results of their popular Career Motivation Test. Men and women and people of different age groups seem to have very diverse views of what gets them out of bed in the morning

Psychtests.com, one of the web's foremost sources of personality, career, and IQ assessments, unveils surprising results of their popular Career Motivation Test. Men and women and people of different age groups seem to have very diverse views of what gets them out of bed in the morning.


It's your raison d'etre. The life raft you hold on to as a stormy day at work sends you crashing into wave after wave of annoying clients, incompetent colleagues, and an opportunistic boss who manages to sneak in a last minute task for you to do as he ties the laces on his golf shoes. Your career motivators. These are the sources of inspiration that push you to do your best so that one day, you can look back and feel proud about what you accomplished, as you tie the laces of your own golf shoes.


Some managers assume that dangling a higher salary in front of employees will get a good, honest day's work out of them. These are managers in need of a serious reality check. Granted, some employees respond to financial rewards, but more and more companies are realizing that motivation is subjective. What motivates Jon in accounting may not motivate Daniel who works 12 hour shifts of hard labor. Or single mom Anne who wishes she could spend more time helping her kids with homework. Or young, fresh out of university Erika, who hopes that her medical degree can help her find a cure for cancer one day. Motivation, you see, is like a pizza - not everyone wants the same toppings.


After releasing their Career Motivation Test and collecting data from over 6000 test-takers from every walk of life, Psychtests AIM Inc. uncovered just how unique we are when it comes to what motivates us - and just how wrong so many of us are when we assume that money is the ultimate motivator. Their analysis revealed that the top three work motivators were Achievement (being driven by a sense of satisfaction at reaching goals or rising up to meet challenges at work), Learning (desire to gain new knowledge and insight, as well as learn new skills), and Inspiration (desire to inspire others, either through creative means or by opening minds to new ideas). The least popular motivator was Status, or the desire to achieve a high social standing, title, or rank.


In terms of gender differences, while men were more likely than women to be motivated by Financial Reward and Power, women had a stronger need for a Balanced Lifestyle and a desire to improve the world. Age differences too held surprising, eye-opening results. Desire for Change and Variety, a Balanced Lifestyle, Improvement, Creativity, and Independence were motivators that tended to increase with age, while Financial Reward, Mobility (desire to see and experience new places), and Status decreased with age. Interestingly, the desire to be recognized and appreciated for one's work hit its peak between the ages of 25-40.


We need to recognize that motivators can be intangible as well, explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company. Offering perks won't work for everyone - they may work initially to draw a new worker, but won't keep the person motivated for long. In general, motivators like money, status, and power will probably work best in conjunction with other intangible sources of motivation. We've seen it - all the money in the world won't inspire someone who hates his or her job, lacks passion, or feels that his or her work won't make an ounce of difference in the world. And our data show this.


Those who are strongly unsatisfied with their current position scored higher on a desire for a Balanced Lifestyle, Change and Variety, and Financial Reward. They scored lower on Achievement, Creativity, Improvement, Inspiration, Learning, Power, Identity and Purpose (work contributes to feelings of personal worth and value), and Social Factors (desire for contact with other people; to work in a pleasant, friendly environment).


When we compared people who are very dissatisfied at work to our entire test-taking population, they scored significantly higher on a desire for Creativity and Variety. This is very telling. Doing the same boring, tedious tasks day-in and day-out - a person can become disenchanted...detached even. But I don't think that people who crave a balanced lifestyle, variety or financial reward are more likely to be dissatisfied with their jobs. My interpretation of these results is that these motivators gain in importance for those who are dissatisfied because their job doesn't offer them. It makes other important motivators, like Achievement, Inspiration, and so on, less of a priority. These are people who are probably saying to themselves, 'Why set goals or work hard? My job is boring and I hate it'.


Motivation is at the heart of every productive employee, and the missing link in those who are not living up to their full potential. If managers truly want to get the best out of their workers, they need to start viewing motivation as a case-by-case issue. Loyalty and commitment can't be bought, emblazoned on a golden plaque, or tucked away in that corner office with the nice view. They are a result of day-to-day interactions between management and employees that fulfills the needs of everyone involved, whatever they may be.


Those who wish to learn more about their own career motivators can go to http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2210. Employers interested in using this or other pre-employment tests can visit http://psychtests.com/solutions/hr_testing.