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How to motivate beyond Comp & Ben

05 June 2019, by Lesley Vanleke
  • #financial sector
  • #Talent management

The financial sector is in full digital transformation. There is not only the question of how to attract digital natives and keeping them motivated. Also the reskilling of the existing population becomes an ever returning concern. Who can keep up and who is at risk? Employees need to do their part and take responsibility of their own careers. Lesley Vanleke, Co-Founder of TalentLogiQs, shares her insights on these developments in a series of five blogs.

In this blog, I want to focus on motivation, engagement, and retention. To understand how to deal with these issues, the self-determination theory by Ryan & Deci (1985) is an interesting starting point.

Until 2008 the financial sector could boast job stability and an above-market average reward & compensation offering. Today, stability is no longer guaranteed and the notion that financial reward is a poor motivator is widespread. So intrinsic motivation seems to be the way to go. But what do we know about intrinsic motivation and how can these insights be of use for the financial industry?

Ryan & Deci have shown that intrinsic motivation is more sustainable than extrinsic motivation and have deduced three distinct aspects within intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, Mastery, and Connectedness.
Autonomy: people seek to be the causal agent of what happens to them in their (professional) life. Throughout the previous century, we have standardized and streamlined work: reducing autonomy, rather than increasing it. How autonomy is related to well-being and engagement is explained by Karasek (1979).

Take away for the financial industry: Take a critical look at job design in the back offices where Taylorism still rules and see how autonomy can be increased.

Mastery:  people seek to control the outcome of what they do and experience mastery. This implies that people have an innate need for learning and development. What it is exactly they want to experience mastery in, is unique for every individual.

Take away for the financial industry: it’s not one size fits all. Standardization of jobs in formal job descriptions limits development opportunities.  Allow job crafting and let people customize their jobs for optimal motivation and performance.

Connectiveness: people look for ways to interact, be connected to, and experience caring for others. This implies that people need qualitative relationships and feel connected to the purpose of the organization of which they are a member.

Take away for the financial industry: since the financial crisis, the reputation of the financial industry has suffered a huge blow. How can the industry make people reconnect with the purpose of its activity and make a financial career attractive again?


Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (1985) Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.

Karasek Jr, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative science quarterly, 285-308.


About the author

Lesley Vanleke

Lesley Vanleke holds over 20 years of experience in HR. In 2014 she co-founded TalentLogiQS, where she searches to understand all different aspects of customers’ challenges and needs. She strives to be a sounding board and bring about connections that deliver added value for all parties concerned.