It’s one of the most famous movie scenes of all time.
Tom Cruise, playing sports agent Jerry Maguire, is holed up in his office, yelling down the phone: “Show me the money!”, as his colleagues turn around and stare.
His last remaining client, a football player, has told him that’s what he needs to do, to keep his business: Secure a big paycheck.
Most business owners imagine that’s what motivates their own employees as well.
“Show me the money!”
So they emphasize compensation and benefits to attract good staff, and use pay rises as a reward for good work. But the research might surprise you. It turns out that financial rewards play a limited role in motivating your team.
A review of 92 quantitative studies, featured in Harvard Business Review, showed that there is just a 2% correlation between pay and job satisfaction levels, which is almost negligible. Employees can be extremely generously paid and still hate their jobs.
Other studies show that money only works as a motivator when it’s promised in the near future, and once that money has been received, its power to motivate ends fast – within a week!
So if money is not enough to get your staff excited about coming into work every morning, what does?
The answer is, having a clear understanding of what your business does – and why.
They want to know the transformation you trying to create for your clients, the difference you are trying to make to their lives, and how their own work helps accomplish this greater goal.
We call this having an Engaged Purpose.
When people believe their work matters, they are inspired to get it done. Give them a big enough reason ‘why’ to do the work, and they will become emotionally involved in finding a ‘how’. In other words, they become engaged.
They feel excited by the organization’s work, and are driven to play their part in making it happen.
This cuts across the generations, but it’s even more noticeable with millennials. It’s popular to blame them for having a shoddy work ethic, but survey after survey has shown that they tend to job-hop until they find a position which feels meaningful to them.
These values-driven youngsters prioritize purpose over paycheck.
I’m sure you can relate. If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs I know, you care, of course, about being financially comfortable. But you are just as likely to care about the impact you have through your business, and are passionate about making a difference.
Your company needs to clearly articulate what this involves, so that it can inspire your entire body of staff – not just you (and not just the senior management…..).
With apologies to Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr., what your staff are really crying out is: “Show me the purpose!”