Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always believed the primary consideration for employees in whether to accept, keep or leave a job is money. It’s not the only consideration, of course, but it’s the top one. Right?

Wrong, according to Psychtests AIM Inc. The employee testing firm has released new data to reveal the workplace factors that are most important — and money doesn’t even make the top three.

Data from more than 6,000 takers of Psychtests’ Career Motivation Test reveal that the top three work motivators are:

* Achievement — being driven by a sense of satisfaction at reaching goals or rising up to meet challenges at work.
* Learning — a desire to gain new knowledge and insight, as well as learn new skills.
* Inspiration — a desire to inspire others, either through creative means or by opening minds to new ideas.

What?! Who are these humble, higher-thinking people? Who took this test — an order of monks?

Along gender lines, men are more likely than women to be motivated by financial reward and power, and women cite a balanced lifestyle and desire to improve the world as more important. Not surprisingly, workers value a balance lifestyle, creativity and independence more as they get older, Pyschtests finds.

"We need to recognize that motivators can be intangible as well," says Ilona Jerabek, Ph.D., president of PsychTests AIM Inc. "We've seen it — all the money in the world won't inspire someone who hates his or her job, lacks passion or feels that his or her work won't make an ounce of difference in the world. And our data show this."

Motivation is at the heart of every productive employee, and the missing link in those who are not living up to their full potential, Psychtests concludes. If managers truly want to get the best out of their workers, they need to start viewing motivation as a case-by-case issue. Motivation, the firm asserts, is like a pizza — not everyone wants the same toppings.

Maybe so. And not to say I don’t want to have achievement “anchovies” or powerful “pepperoni” on mine. But first and foremost, make mine with extra cheese. Ya know what I mean?

Click here to test your own career motivators. Then hit the comments to speak your mind on motivation.

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