Money.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

HR: … so, tell me, what’s been going on?

John: Well, I feel the company does not appreciate my efforts so I decided to look elsewhere. I have had few interviews already and one of our competitors has made me an offer – a higher position and 25% pay rise. I really love working here, the people / culture / development / benefits are all wonderful, but you know, I need to think about my future, and at this moment in time, money is the most important thing for me… I understand that we have just taken on a new client and the next year or so will be very demanding… Me leaving the company will put the team in a very tricky position, with looking for my replacement, managing the client etc…. You see, I would really like to stick around but the offer from the other company is just too good to give it a miss…

Sounds familiar? I bet it is. I won’t be writing about ways of maneuvering through these sort of conversations. What I would like to point out is that the money on its own is (always) a wrong motivator. I agree, we  must be paid appropriately for our efforts – this goes without saying. Regular market researches, company as well as individual performance assessments are a must to get it right. I’m regularly sent surveys analysing the most important employee engagement motivators across the EU, they all look very similar: (1) development opportunities (2) culture of the company (3) total reward packages.

The only difference is probably the United Arab Emirates, where the order looks quite different: the top spot is occupied by the hard-earned cash. This isn’t surprising considering the fact that the foreign nationals are not allowed to retire there, and the rule of thumb is that if you work helping to build the country – you are welcome to stay, but the minute you lose your employment, you have nothing left to do, but to pack your bags and leave (almost immediately).

Here’s another conversation that has just sprung to mind (a sort of continuation of the first one):

HR: …, so John, we have managed to increase your salary and promote you to a new position….

John: Yes, I pretty much got everything I wanted, but I’m not really happy. I realised that I was looking for another opportunity elsewhere for a reason, I think I have done my time here with the company and it’s time for me to move on. I honestly thought that a bit more money in my pocket will change everything. Don’t get me wrong, it did momentarily, but I have now realised that the promotion was nothing more than a small plaster over a bleeding cut. I am handing my notice after all.