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Motivation beyond Comp & Ben

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

In this blog, I want to focus on motivation, engagement, and retention in the financial industry. 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 of 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 look for ways to increase autonomy.

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.

Connectedness: 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. Therefore, find ways to make people reconnect with the industry’s purpose and activities. As a result, a financial career will become attractive again.

Contact us to find out more about what drives your employees. The Career Fitness Profiler gives you an evidence-based insight into motivation. Have a more qualitative career dialogue and go for the win-win between employee and organization.


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.