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Do You Know Your Career Goals and Motivations?

There are many factors that may motivate an individual at work; whether it be salary, company culture, opportunities for growth, responsibilities, or something else. When comparing different work motivators, how can we measure the importance of each one? In our recent report titled ‘Job Satisfaction in Japan’s Healthcare Industry’, we analyzed our survey results of why people would be motivated to leave their current company. When we look though at why people would want leave, it is important to also consider this: why would they stay and what types of motivations are the most important?


Extrinsic motivators are things which motivate employees that come from an external source; such as earning a reward or avoiding punishment. An example of this is salary, or the possibility of being fired.
Intrinsic motivators are different in that they are less tangible. They include a computer programmer being motivated simply because they enjoy programming; or a product manager working hard because they are passionate about the product which they are bringing to market.

Extrinsic motivators are easier to see, feel, and quantify compared to the less tangible intrinsic motivators. In our survey, we found the second most voted reason to change jobs was salary, the first was responsibilities. While salary scored high on the priority list, since it is typically an extrinsic motivator, if a professional is faced between the choice of having a fair salary at a job they are passionate about or a slightly higher salary doing a job they have no interest in, they are more likely to choose the first option. That would be because they are weighing their options between an intrinsic and extrinsic motivator. Typically an intrinsic motivator is more powerful, however there is a line where extrinsic will take priority over the intrinsic motivator. Where this line falls, of course depends on each individual.


A study was done on what actually motivates people, and the findings show that what satisfies employees is different than what dissatisfies them.
Factors which motivate employees include achievement, recognition, responsibility, the work itself, and growth. Dissatisfaction comes from company policies, supervision, salary, security, and relationship with their supervisor. This is to say that generally speaking, the dissatisfaction factors are only capable of having a neutral or negative impact on work performance, and the motivation factors are what can have a positive impact. This creates 4 separate types of employees:

• Motivated, satisfied employees are of course ideal as everything in their work life is fine, and they are motivated to actually work.
• Motivated, unsatisfied employees have something wrong with their work life, be that being paid very low or they are micromanaged. HR should pay attention to these people.
• Unmotivated, satisfied employees probably just view the job as a paycheck, and are less likely to be committed to the company in the long run.
• Unmotivated, unsatisfied employees are probably already looking for jobs somewhere else.

Which category do the employees in your team fall in? Where do you fall? Understanding these 4 types of motivated and unmotivated employees can help an organization identify the unsatisfied employees and determine the next steps in improving their work environment.


HR should especially focus on the second type listed, the ‘motivated, unsatisfied’ employees. These are the employees who could be a great asset to the company because they are already intrinsically motivated, which can’t just be developed through training. However, these employees are at risk of leaving the company, and probably because of an issue in the organization that can be addressed. If the issue with job satisfaction can be fixed, these professionals could represent long term employees to the company.

The third type of employee listed should also be focused on. What motivation factors are they missing? A common mistake HR makes with these employees is by throwing external motivators at them, such as a pay cut or termination. While motivation could be difficult to fix if the employee is not interested in the work at all, perhaps a potential solution is moving them laterally within the company if it is appropriate. Especially when we consider the costs associated with the hiring and training process, watching out for these little things could have a big impact on company turnover.


For a professional, it is important to recognize which category you fall in. If you are not a motivated, satisfied employee, you need to assess why you are unmotivated or unsatisfied. Is your personal growth not matching your career progression? Are you not passionate about your current projects? Sometimes discussing these challenges and potential solutions can have a positive impact upon change. However, sometimes it is evident no changes will be made any time soon; if this issue is an important factor to your personal job satisfaction, it may be time to consider options elsewhere.
To be able to fully take control of your career, you need to understand and manage expectations within your role, and if those expectations will not be met, you might need to consider new opportunities.


• Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can help both HR in retaining talent and help professionals be more clear in what is important to them in the workplace

• Identifying which category of motivation/satisfaction you are in, can help you understand why you are feeling unmotivated or unsatisfied at work

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