Money is dead – What Motivates Us Now?

Money is dead – What Motivates Us Now?

LEVEL 4, 5 |

Most people are absolutely sure they would be happier at work if they were paid more.
But is that true? 
Listen and learn! 

Voiced by Patryk Lazarz

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Money is dead – What Motivates Us Now? 

Most people are absolutely sure they would be happier at work if they were paid more. While this is true to a certain extent, every year more and more employees realize that their yearly pay rise leaves them cold. Yet at the same time there seem to be so many people, working for small IT companies who are simply beaming every time you see them at work. What is going on here?

The key misconception people have about motivation is that the more we get paid, the more motivated to work we are. But apparently, this type of financial incentive works up until a certain amount. For the US, the sum is $75,000 a year. Once a person's salary reaches this level, additional money doesn't impact the motivation levels anymore. This could be easily explained with the help of the widely-known theory of needs, suggested by Abraham Maslow.

Maslow highlighted 5 basic groups of human needs: physiological (related to food, shelter ), safety, love and belonging (related to being part of some social group), esteem (related to being respected and having self-respect) and self-actualization (meaning, doing what you are naturally good at).

According to the theory, everyone starts with the basic physiological needs, so if your salary is not enough to pay for your food and home, you clearly won't be interested in your work.

Next, you will need to feel safe, both physically and psychologically. This rules out any possibility of having a psychopathic manager and still being happy at work.

Now if you already get a decent salary and have a nice manager you may feel the need to belong. This means that you will now take a closer look at your co-workers and try to fit in with them. This is where all those teambuilding activities pay off, because humans are motivated and productive if they feel they are part of a bigger group.

If you already love your teammates, what you will want next is respect. Moreover, you will want not only to be respected by others at your office, but also to feel self-respect. Every man to his taste, of course, but most people get self-respect through achieving a certain level of status at work.

Now that you enjoy some degree of respect at work, you start aiming higher. You want not only to do a good job, but to actually use your natural inclinations at work. You don't just want to be a random employee, you want to be a highly-qualified specialist, who is given a chance to develop his or her skills as well as given a certain level of autonomy to do so. And this is where the original example with a small IT company comes in, as such companies have realized long ago that giving employees more freedom and autonomy will result in a happier and more motivated workforce.

To sum it all up – yes, getting a reasonable salary is important, but it is not enough. Adding some safety, team spirit, respect and autonomy is what gives you the truly motivated employee, one that will not run off when the yearly bonus is less than expected.


1. true to a certain extent
2. leaves them cold
3. beaming
4. misconception
5. incentive
6. shelter
7. esteem
8. psychopathic
9. decent
10. fit in with them
11. pay off
12. every man to his taste
13. natural inclinations
14. workforce
15. run off