How can a boss motivate employees and keep them satisfied?

 |   |  Disclaimer: Links to some products earn us a commission

Considering the fact that most adults spend most of their day at work, it is of prime importance to understand why we work and why we earn money for it.

Employee satisfaction is a core factor that needs to be considered in designing a workforce and establishing a health company culture.

This article will look at 3 important factors that affect the human workforce.

  1. Intrinsic motivation – the feeling of wanting to do work which comes from within
  2. Job satisfaction – the feeling of being satisfied with your work, colleagues, growth, money, etc. 
  3. Pay – factors associated with fulfilling your financial needs and being compensated for your time and effort. 

Intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, and pay at the workplace

Money and Job satisfaction often go hand in hand as we feel that the right amount of money can justify our time and effort. That isn’t always the case. Monetary satisfaction can be temporary. Feeling a true sense of purpose brings satisfaction. That motivates.

Improve employee motivation

Should you consider job satisfaction or money in a job?

This is how your employee thinks. 

Let us look at pay and satisfaction individually.

Pay: People want money because at one point most people realize that their time and effort needs to be valued correctly. People don’t ask for money when they spend time with a loved one, their time is valued by the person they share it with. For most other things, money acts as a value.

Companies often have tight funds for most employees and cannot create exceptions. They then throw in perks to give their employees a good time. That’s not always enough. If a market is crowded, quality work is often available at cheaper rates. So the value drops. People would be ok with lower salaries if they ‘get to draw a salary’. Unemployment would be a reference point.

Imagine being overpaid for a skill you have. You do it, the company likes it, things are smooth for a while. Then, the work doesn’t excite you. It’s just a skill. Most people learn that it’s short-term satisfaction turning into hollowness.

Satisfaction: Let’s be honest, money satisfies most of us. But it isn’t sustained. Perks also satisfy but that satisfaction is often ephemeral. So pay isn’t really bringing in satisfaction. What brings in employee satisfaction? A lot of qualitative studies (mentioned in the book below) point to a core component – alignment with the purpose of the company.

If you, as an employee, are invested in the company’s purpose and vision, you are a truly valued asset. You are most likely indispensable. That gives your time meaning, your contribution some value, and your company sees it. You not only would feel ownership and intrinsic motivation to do something, like, in a relationship with a loved one, you would be satisfied that you matter in the big picture.

The thing is that such alignment is rare for an employee, but it is often heavily rewarded. You are likely to bring in more money for your company, and thereby yourself.

What happens when you have low satisfaction and low pay?

You are miserable.

What happens when you have low satisfaction and high pay?
You’d probably stay onboard with sub-optimal commitment but be moderately satisfied. Although, this would be volatile and you could crave meaning and purpose, and that can interfere with life.

What happens when you have high satisfaction and low pay?
You contribute and you work because you are motivated. You’d expect more money but you are willing to accept lesser value if the work means a lot to you.

What happens when you have high satisfaction and high pay?
(The universe collapses. )

You are most likely happy. You have meaning in your work and you are valued. Most people get here after going through the previous situations.

The answer depends on the context. It also depends on the needs.

Maybe someone NEEDs money, satisfaction takes the backseat until there is money.

Maybe someone NEEDs meaningful work because they feel their life is meaningless and money can’t do anything for them.

Help me run this site with a donation :)

Maybe someone is in need of a long-term commitment, then it is both.

Now that we’ve looked at how one should value job satisfaction and money, let us look at motivating employees. Once an employee is motivated, chances of satisfaction and justified payment increase. The reason is intuitive. Intrinsic motivation is in a positive feedback loop with job satisfaction. One would be motivated if the work is satisfying; and, if the work is satisfying, one would continue working with enthusiasm.


How can work culture be modified to improve employee motivation?

Here is your answer.

11 tips for high-level managers, entrepreneurs, HR, and executives.

Let us get to the meat of this article. I’ll get straight to the point. There are 11 factors that should be taken care of to transform the work culture so there is intrinsic motivation and support for the people who run the company. These factors can help in transforming the workplace into one that is conducive to motivating employees.

  1. Change will be incremental but worth it. First principle. Getting a workforce to see the company’s vision and then take it forward needs incremental changes in how the company behaves with its employees. The actions needed to build up motivation can have a slow yield, but as it grows, it becomes worth it.
  2. All transformations should be built on existing strengths. It’s true that all employees aren’t perfect all-rounders and specialists. This translates into groups of people who demonstrate strengths. These strengths should be leveraged. The people will then know that they are being valued for what they have.
  3. Make a list of tribe members who are aligned with the company’s values. These are the core people within the company who are most aligned with the company’s overarching vision. These people stand together in a crisis to realize the vision. A lot of employees want to then be a part of this tribe.
  4. Change actions at the organizational level. The company environment reflects what the company is all about. How leaders deal with employees, how employees bring up issues, how they perform, etc. is dependent on organizational level. There are assumptions about the purpose and vision of the company, as well as what is expected of them. These assumptions drive the company.
  5. Change actions at the individual level and transform them into keystone habits. Keystone habits are systems that work in a company. These are the priorities and how problems are dealt with. Habits become a part of the work culture. Is trust a habit, is evaluation a habit, is safety a habit, is mental health care a habit, is tardiness a habit?
  6. Focus on a few critical habits at a time. Leaders should take actionable steps to focus on a small cluster of habits.
  7. Change starts from the top – attention of leaders. The workforce sees what their leaders care about, what they value, what they can and cannot do. Attention to details at every level – housekeeping staff to interns at a client, reflect the social culture of the company. When the workforce sees what the boss pays attention to.
  8. Build bottom-up grassroots level support. Support at the level of mental health counselling, relaxation areas, available stationery, digital resources, peer engagement systems such as slack, etc. play a role in motivating workers at the grassroots level. Motivated employees know what maximizes their output, often.
  9. Infuse values into company strategies by aligning culture and performance goals. The workforce should know what the culture is, it should be seen. They should be a part of it.
  10. Don’t underestimate informal interventions. Informal interventions have a candid side that let employees communicate. Taking a moment in the ‘now’ and addressing a point there and then gets an employee to reflect and implement change if needed. It is also a lot more comforting.
  11. Track progress against measurable objectives (Tangible, actionable, measurable, observable, repeatable). Statements like ‘do a better job’ don’t make sense. Vagueness doesn’t help. Leaders and employees should know what the tangible objectives are and how they are being measured. It’s clarity that is important.

Do you see how Intrinsic motivation, satisfaction, and money mingle?  I recommend reading this book to know more about building a company’s culture, purpose, and workforce.

Click the above link to purchase it (note: it is an affiliate link, I earn a commission if you purchase the book. No additional cost for you)

Summary: Build a company environment that is conducive to high intrinsic motivation so that employees can feel a sense of satisfaction if that is what they are looking for. In most cases, money will be justified once an employee knows what value they bring to the company as well as to themselves. 

Was this useful?

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Check out these quick visual stories

Natural variation and decision making

Teaching aids and Instructional materials: tools for teachers and students


Join 3,488 other subscribers


Your skill level and task difficulty give you 8 moods at work You’re Googling wrong, start searching smarter Write 9x better with these 9 psychological hooks Why we Fall for Misinformation so Easily Why social media affects mental health: Hints from 40 studies Why do accidents happen in slow motion? What’s your intelligence type? 8 types mapped to skills What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Very high intelligence has a few downsides Unlock a “value system” for life and relationships