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The Top Reasons People Work and How to Leverage Them


There are many reasons why people work. Some people work for the love of their job, others work for the money, and some people work for the benefits. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to understand the reasons why people work so that you can better leverage them. Here are some of the most common reasons why people work and how you can use them to your advantage in attracting and retaining talent.

For the Money

This is the primary reason why people work—people need money. After all, capitalism is an economic system where even necessities for survival cost money. Companies would like to believe that for employees, money is not everything, and they would be right, but only because of technicality. Money is not the only, exclusive factor for staying in a job or being satisfied with it, but it is the biggest reason. After all, they need money for food, rent, clothing, healthcare, leisure, transportation, and a thousand other reasons. While you may be able to target their other needs with other benefits, you cannot possibly provide everything they’ll ever want or need. With cold, hard cash, they’ll have the freedom to spend it as they will, and you’ll be giving them the responsibility of looking for the service providers or products they need.

The best way to leverage this need in attracting and retaining talent is to provide a competitive salary. This means looking at the median and average salary of the roles you are trying to fill, and then offering a slightly larger pay, especially if you will be asking employees to do more in their roles. It’s not a bad thing that people work for the money—after all, companies exist because of it, too.

For Their Health

Another common reason people work is for their continued health and survival. Healthcare costs money, and in fact, its cost has increased by 5% over the past year and will continue to keep rising. This is why health benefits are very popular among job hunters and employers. Health insurance is a great perk to have, and it is even better when your employer covers a portion or all of the costs. Such a perk would save employees the effort of having to look for healthcare providers. Healthcare perks also come with the advantage of providing employees the means to get healthcare at a lower cost; according to Kaiser Family Foundation, comprehensive healthcare plans for individual employees cost $7,739 annually on average in 2021. However, plans at this price would cover treatment, medicine, and other healthcare up to ten times that amount.

In addition to health insurance, many employers also offer fitness perks like gym memberships or access to on-site gym facilities. You can also offer them perks related to grooming and self-care, from basic offerings like spas, haircuts, and massages to more complicated ones like chiropractic care, laser hair removal, or even laser eye surgery. These perks can go a long way in keeping your employees healthy and happy. If the sessions are too expensive to offer as regular perks, you can instead offer them as monthly rewards (or longer intervals) for a job well done, or as prizes in raffles and events.

Offering fitness, grooming, and self-care perks has benefits for you, too—with healthier and happier employees, sick days are used less often, and your insurance premiums go down. These kinds of employees are also more productive at work in terms of actual output.

A father reads a storybook to his kids at home after work

For Their Family

Another reason why people work is for the opportunity to provide for their families. People work to provide the people they love with both their needs and wants. You can leverage this by including immediate family in your offered benefits like many other employers do. Some healthcare plans include a limited number of family members, which is especially important nowadays. You can also offer family-friendly benefits like scholarships for employees and their children or grandchildren. These benefits can help ease the financial burden on your employees and their families. Other options include letting immediate family use gym facilities and inviting them to company events. You can also allow employees to use their sick days to care for family members. If ever you plan to implement this, make sure that you are delivering a cohesive message with your other policies. You will look phony if you speak a message of caring about employees’ families and then turning around to penalize them for prioritizing their family.

Final Thoughts

Though people work for numerous different reasons, one thing is clear: companies who want to keep their employees happy and productive should offer a variety of benefits. This includes both traditional benefits like healthcare and family-friendly benefits, as well as fitness perks and self-care offerings. Not only will this make your employees happier, but it can also save you money in the long run by reducing sick days and insurance premiums. Keep these things in mind when creating or updating your company’s policies, and be sure to communicate the message that you care about your employees’ well-being.

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