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Is money a motivator?

Money certainly makes the world go around, but does it motivate people? Let's consider Maslow's needs pyramid.

Physiological needs: Food, good conditions, clothes, and so on, everything takes money. Without money, it's not possible to satisfy the physical needs of today.

Safety needs: The biggest need of today is financial safety, which is completely driven by money.

Belonging and love: It's true that this need isn't money-driven. Sometimes your financial status may determine if you can sustain being part of a particular group. Love is a big word and all I can say is that money can't buy love, but no money can certainly make it more difficult to be loved.

Esteem: While respect can't be bought, a lot of other esteem needs are fulfilled by money. Symbols of esteem, such as expensive bikes or cars and designer clothes, can only be satisfied by money.

Self actualization: Technically, self-actualization should not be money-related, but most people can take a risk and follow their heart only when future financial needs are secured. With a threat of future financial insecurity, it's very difficult to go on a trip to self-discovery and fulfillment.

Money essentially is part of every need and hence it is certainly a motivator, but when you look at it closely, there are two aspects of money and motivation. Firstly, the desire to earn more money is a motivator. Secondly, the fear of losing money or the desire to preserve money is a motivator by itself.

Money is highly-valued since it is such a great enabler. It helps satisfy multiple needs and is important in all stages of life.

What happens when money becomes a given?

Smart people reach a good career point pretty soon. They become highly employable and the economy supports an easy job switch to a slightly higher compensation. At this stage of a career, money is a given, and hence it'll cease to be a motivator.

An increase in salary of such an individual will have no real impact on his motivation. It would be seen as his/her right, and what he/she deserved anyway.

So what happens when you don't give someone what is theirs by right? By any chance, if this individual is denied a salary hike due to any reason, the employee will be demotivated.

Lack of good compensation will cause huge dissatisfaction, as it's seen as an employee being devalued by the organization. Unless there are other very strong motivators, the money demotivator will drive people to attrition.

Extra money may create an extra motivation only sometimes, but lack of money will almost always create demotivation. So while money is absolutely essential, it's a more powerful demotivator than a motivator.

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