The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Employees

I’m not a big follower of Dan Pink and his book Drive, but I am intrigued by his premise  – that everything we know about what motivates people is completely and totally wrong.

This is important stuff if you are managing people, because how those people are motivated is an important component to your job. If you can focus on the right motivation to get the maximum result, you’ll not only have happier and more engaged employees, but you’ll also improve your organization’s bottom line.

That’s what pulled me into this video animation that essentially summarizes Pink’s talk in January before the RSA – the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce .

According to its website, for more than 250 years, “the RSA … has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress. Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action. In the light of new challenges and opportunities for the human race our purpose now is to develop and promote new ways of thinking about human fulfillment and social progress.”

Pink’s surprising truths about what motivates people to work harder, and the subsequent incentives that far-too-few organizations provide, are fascinating and thought-provoking. This condensed, animated white board version of Pink’s talk to the RSA that was produced by Cognitive Media is something that anyone in HR or managing talent should watch. It not only gives you some great food for thought about how YOU should be managing and motivating your staff, but it makes you want to investigate this topic a little more.

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If you’re like me, you’ll want more information before you start to put any of Pink’s philosophy to work. I guess that’s as good a reason as any to go out and buy the book.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.