Saturday, April 01, 2006
Montreal Gazette

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It takes more than money to make you happy

A healthy paycheque is important, but recognition and appreciation are what really motivate employees and keep them engaged


Everyone loves payday. What's not to love when that cheque is deposited directly into your bank account?

But payday is not the only thing that keeps people engaged in their jobs, experts say. And if you sign on for a position strictly for the money, it won't satisfy you for long.

"Compensation is definitely not a key motivator for people in their careers," said Wanda Brown, vice-president and general manager of Cyberna Group, a management search firm. "Money becomes an issue when someone feels he's underpaid vis-a-vis the market or there's inequity with co-workers. But money as a motivator is a short-term spur and it's not what drives people in their work."

True motivators, Brown said, include recognition and appreciation from employers, challenge and the opportunity to participate in an organization and undergo personal growth and development.

A 2005 survey, conducted by CROP for l'Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines et en relations industrielles agrees du Quebec, says Quebec workers received average salary increases of 2.5 per cent last year. But respondents also said that money did not top the list of the most important work elements. Salary ranked sixth in importance after:

Work-life balance

The opportunity to be creative and to reach one's potential


Recognition from one's employer

Job security

While respondents reported they wanted a good salary, they also said they wouldn't choose to sacrifice those five other priorities for a higher salary.

"My clients want to be respected by their employers and to make a contribution," said Louis Brassard, who counsels executives in career transition at Knightsbridge Bussandri

Macdonald, a career transition firm.

"We know that money is not the key satisfier. If you don't like your job and I double your salary, it won't make you like your job. It'll just make you richer."

It doesn't mean that money is unimportant, however. Not having enough of it can make it the key consideration in a job.

"It depends on where people are financially," Brown said. "Workers who care less about money can afford to care less. When I interview management candidates, I see that if they're still career-tracking, they want to be compensated fairly for the work they do. But once the compensation question is off the table, it's not the key driver for those people. They want to develop and make a difference in an organization. They want to stretch in terms of their scope of responsibility.

"There are people who will not jump ship for an extra $20,000 if it means they'll have to work an extra 10 hours a week for it and sacrifice work-life balance."

Brown calls compensation a "satisfier" rather than a "motivator."

Once you land a satisfying salary, she said, "the thrill of that new money is gone after you receive a couple of paycheques."

The question of how satisfying the paycheque is also depends on a worker's age. Workers whose priority is to make a contribution tend to have a bit of mileage in the workplace.

By contrast, says Iris Unger, executive director of Youth Employment Services, "first-time job seekers often think the financial remuneration is what they're there for.


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