It's easy to assume that people only come to work for the money.

But is that true?

Of course, people need to work to get money to buy food, clothing and pay the rent. But does that mean that chucking more money at them is going to make them more engaged workers?

No.

What really engages staff?

Work is a big part of most peoples' lives and they expect (and need) more from it than a pay cheque. Lots of research has looked at what people really want from work and it shows consistently that to be engaged, people need more than just the money.

For example, the CIPD Employee Outlook Report 2016 asked workers what was important to them when they think about their career and working life. What was at the top of the list?

Job satisfaction and work-life balance were first equal. The next three factors were:

3. 'The people I work with'
4. 'Meaning/purpose'
5. 'Wealth' (important, but it's only in fifth place.)

The report also asked workers what they felt helped them to make the progress they wanted in their work and careers (as well as what they felt got in the way). Interestingly, their answers reflected what research repeatedly tells us about what staff need to be engaged.

The good:

  • 'The relationships I have built across the organisation'
  • 'Good-quality line management from my direct manager at key points in my career'
  • 'The organisation I work for encourages progression and promotion from within'
The bad:
  • 'Poor-quality line management from my immediate manager when I entered work or at key points in my career'
  • 'Lack of effective training programmes at work'
  • 'Negative office politics'

But that is not all.

What do you think those who were not satisfied with the progress they were making said they needed to do? Move to a new job in a new organisation. As always, low engagement leads to low retention.

To have engaged staff you need to know what people really want and need from their work. Surprisingly, with the right know-how and effort you can achieve great results at very little cost.