A study of 20,000 people reveals employees motivated by this 1 factor are less likely to quit

Source: 20/20

What motivates you at work? It's a question we hear often, and our answers are vital to how successful we become in reaching our goals.

At LeadershipIQ, the workplace training and research company I founded, we created an online assessment survey to determine the single biggest motivation driver that keeps employees happy in their jobs. Using data from more than 20,000 people surveyed, we discovered that there are five major types of motivations that drive employee actions at work:

  1. Achievement-people want to excel and continually reach for a higher level of personal best.
  2. Power-driven people want to take charge and make decisions that impact others.
  3. Affiliation-driven people want to build harmonious relationships and feel accepted by others.
  4. Security-driven people want to maintain continuity, consistency and predictability.
  5. Adventure-driven people want to seek risk, change and uncertainty.

While no type is inherently better the other, the results showed that achievement-driven people are 44 percent more likely to love and stay in their jobs.

Mentally strong in most environments

Achievement-driven people are different from the rest because they are less reliant on their work environment to provide them with deep meaning. That means they can love their jobs even if they don't have the best bosses or coworkers. 

This simple exercise can help you figure out what to do with your life
This simple exercise can help you figure out what to do with your life

Power-driven people, by contrast, struggle if there aren't enough opportunities to be in charge. Affiliation-driven people find it difficult to excel in environments rife with conflict and disharmony. Adventure-driven person chafe in slow-moving environments. The same goes for security-driven people who work in chaotic and disruptive environments.

Achievement-driven people can survive in all those settings as long as they're able to measure their own success, grade their progress and set new goals for themselves.

Unlock your inner achievement drive

If being an achievement-driven employee sounds appealing to you, but you feel as if you haven't truly embraced it, here are a few ways to unlock it:

  1. Find a goal that you can control
    Pick a goal that isn't influenced by factors way beyond your control. "I want a 10 percent raise," for example, requires your company to have the budget for salary bumps. A better goal would be "I want to make at least eight sales calls every day" or "I want to complete my online MBA program." Then, write it down. People who vividly describe their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish them.
  2. Look for projects you've never done before
    A hallmark of the achievement-driven person is that they enjoy projects outside of their comfort zone. Get yourself assigned to a team or project that feels new and exciting. Before you start the project, make a list of all the skills you're excited to gain. You can't always control whether a project is successful, but you can control how much you learn.
  3. Start your day with a plan
    Every morning, ask yourself: "What do I need to accomplish for this day to be successful?" This will give you an immediate goal by which you can prioritize and measure your day. Our research revealed that people are 45 percent more likely to leave work feeling happy if they start their day planning rather than diving straight into emails.

Mark Murphy is a NYT best-selling author and founder of Leadership IQ. He has been ranked as a Top 30 Leadership Guru and his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes and Bloomberg. He has also appeared on CNN, NPR and CBS News Sunday Morning. Follow him on Twitter @LeadershipIQ.

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