Personnel motivation: tangible and intangible


Oh, this motivation! What a tricky and flexible thing. How many pitfalls and subtleties are hidden under this term. How experienced HR and managers skillfully manipulate staff.

But I’ll tell you today what works and what doesn’t. Where to idle, and where to the very goal. Of course, we will generalize, because there are no universal models for every profession.


Motivation is a powerful tool in capable hands, but when it gets to the layman, expect trouble. In our time, more and more attention is paid to motivation and its varieties, namely, material and non-material.

Each field of activity has a specific set of motivating factors. These factors are progressing, but very slowly. Below, we will talk about the differences and subtleties of material and non-material motivation in the context of various professions.

Material motivation

No matter how beautifully they try to tell you that non-material motivation works better than material motivation, do not believe it. The material motive is the highest among many specialties. This has been proven by various questionnaires and personnel testing at enterprises.

At first glance, material motivation seems simple. A fanciful KPI adds flexibility to it, but the bottom line is money and more. When motivating an employee financially, one must be prepared for nuances.

Man is an insatiable creature and big money often spoils people. Also, in the pursuit of profit, people break down and burn out faster.

An example from the IT sphere: there is a type of people who are no longer interested in money, although many of them are cunning. There is never a lot of money, just needs grow exponentially.

By applying material motivation, control must be stronger. More costs and more competition.

What about our popular KPI?

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are numerical performance indicators that help measure the degree to which goals are achieved or the process is optimized, namely efficiency and effectiveness.

Building a KPI system is a very complex mechanism. In the vastness of the former CIS, less than half of managers and HR are competently able to work with KPIs. The thing is that a chain of people takes part in the final assessment of the activity. Accordingly, inaccuracy and subjective opinion often distort the result.

Non-material motivation: dust in your eyes or an effective tool?

This type of motivation is much more extensive and confusing. The flexibility of intangible motivation has no boundaries. These are both comfortable working conditions for you, and various team-building activities, valuable gifts, honor boards, and more.

It would be silly to say that it doesn’t work. Non-material motivation has a good effect, but in a percentage ratio of 30 to 70 in favor of material motivation.

Several examples and how it works.
In one enterprise, where 80% of the staff are workers, the following non-material incentives were introduced:

  • on Fridays, beer with crayfish was brought directly to the shop and after the end of the working day;
  • in the summer, provided the staff with soft drinks;
  • the best employees of the month were presented with valuable gifts (vouchers, equipment).

This is an option with a workforce that has different values ​​and needs.

Options for non-financial motivation for white collars:

  • advanced training due to organization abroad;
  • team building trainings in a playful and business form;
  • promotion with valuable prizes with a choice;
  • comfortable working conditions;
  • frequent feedback from management and a sense of the team.

Did you notice the difference? If yes, good, if not, too. In any case, whatever the intangible factors, money motivates everyone equally.

Yes, there are “hungry artists”, but this is rather a rarity and a tribute to the catch phrase. All self-respecting experts will not move too much for a nice word and a trip to Paris.

How to motivate IT professionals


Everything is more complicated here. Developers are a peculiar people and require a special approach. Since the salary fund is much higher, then money is not as important as for a cashier from Auchan. Adjusting and pushing, threatening to disrupt KPIs is also not an option.

By the way, I am amazed at the outings for drinking. This method of the times of the USSR has not worked for a long time. Only money down the drain.

How can a developer be interested in modern realities if he can afford a lot himself? Non-triviality. The right to choose the pace and conditions of work (within reasonable limits, of course). Unobtrusive control and feedback support. Great credit of trust and involvement in the common cause. Sudden and unusual bonuses, an individual approach to everyone.

The external closeness of many IT professionals is due to their specific worldview. Many have original hobbies and interests. One has only to dig deeper, find an approach.

There is a popular belief among HR that developers are such complex and strange individuals. Eerie stereotypes. The same, normal guys and girls. You just have to look from a different angle.


By using various tools of motivating factors, most people miss the subtleties. Because of this, entire blocks of programs do not fire. It’s easier to say: these developers are strange, this or that doesn’t work with them, than to work hard and understand why.

This is how we have a problem of misunderstanding. This must be fought, but the management often does not understand this. Through the prism of HR, in this situation, companies are losing smart specialists without revealing them to the end. This is because Marina’s notes did not work for HR Marina. Here’s another example, just like when interviewing or hunting.

Once again, I ask the developers for patience and leniency towards HR specialists. They try, but not everyone succeeds. Whoever understood how is on a horse.

If we talk about motivation itself, then it is definitely needed! Necessarily in a mixed form (intangible with material) because they complement each other.

It will be interesting to hear how your HR professionals and leadership motivate staff (especially in IT).


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