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What Motivates You At Work | 2024 Updates


Astrid Tran 22 April, 2024 8 min read

In nine out of ten interviews, top question like "What motivates you at work" is what almost all interviewers want to know about your work motivation to apply for the job or work hard. 

We all have different motivations at work. These work motivations are the best way for the company to identify effective ways to boost employee performance, quality of work, and overall job satisfaction.

In this article, we together find out the best ways to answer the question "What motivates you at work?". So let's go over it!

work inspiration
Identify work inspiration to keep working hard every day | Image: Freepik

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Why is work motivation important?

Knowing what motivates you at work is essential as it directly impacts your job satisfaction, productivity, and overall career success. 

At its core, work motivation is what fuels our actions and behaviors. It propels us forward when faced with challenges, keeps us focused on our goals, and empowers us to overcome obstacles. Work motivation is closely linked to performance. When you are motivated, you are more willing to take on challenges and go the extra mile to achieve excellence in your work.

Many individuals spend a significant portion of their lives in the workplace, making it essential to align their personal values and aspirations with their professional pursuits. When you identify what truly motivates you, you can seek out career paths that resonate with your passions, interests, and long-term objectives.

How to answer: "What motivates you at work?"

Tips to answer what motivates you at work in an interview

When you develop your response to the question of what motivates you at work, consider using the following tips:

  • Self-reflect: When you take the time to think about your values, your goals, and your passions, you can better understand what motivates you to show up each day and do your best work.
  • Avoid ambiguous answers: Steer clear of generic or clichéd answers that could apply to anyone. Instead, focus on specific aspects that resonate with your personal experiences and aspirations.
  • Be authentic: It's natural to have moments of uncertainty, but it is believed that being authentic with yourselves is the best way to find true motivation.
  • Have concise message points: Prepare key points that encapsulate your motivations concisely. Organize your thoughts to deliver a clear and coherent response.
  • Be upbeat: When it comes to discussing what motivates us at work during an interview, it's important to be upbeat and positive. Focus on your passion for the work you do and how it aligns with the goals of the company.
  • Link to your accomplishments: By sharing your past successes, you'll demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a capable and driven candidate who is committed to delivering results.
  • Avoid money emphasis: While salary and compensation are important (we all know that), putting it as your top motivator might turn off employers.

What motivates you to work hard?

According to Motivation Theory, we’ve explored that there are five major hard work motivations that drive people’s actions at the workplace, which include Achievement, Power, Affiliation, Security, and Adventure. Let's explore each of these motivations:

#1. Achievement

Individuals motivated by achievement are driven by a strong desire to excel and accomplish meaningful goals. They thrive on challenges and take pride in their accomplishments. Such individuals are goal-oriented and are continually seeking opportunities to improve and succeed in their professional endeavors.

#2. Power

Power-driven individuals are motivated by the desire to influence and make an impact in their workplace. They seek leadership positions and thrive in roles that allow them to make decisions, lead teams, and shape organizational outcomes. For them, the ability to influence others and drive change is a significant source of motivation.

#3. Affiliation

When affiliation motivates a person, they are likely to place a high value on building and maintaining positive relationships with colleagues and coworkers. They prioritize teamwork, collaboration, and a sense of camaraderie in their work environment. Such individuals excel in roles that require strong interpersonal skills and thrive in supportive and cooperative work cultures.

#4. Security

Security is someone's primary motivation if they prefer stability and predictability in their work environment. They value job security, a sense of stability, and the reassurance of long-term prospects within an organization. These individuals may prioritize benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and job stability when making career decisions.

#5. Adventure

If someone is fueled by novelty, excitement, and the opportunity to embrace change and take on new challenges, called adventure-motivated individuals. They thrive in dynamic and innovative work environments and are often early adopters of new technologies and processes. These individuals seek continuous learning and growth opportunities to keep their work engaging and stimulating.

What makes a job fun and motivating for you?

Ask yourself what motivates you at work can help you find out the joy of working at your current position

Not many people share the same work motivations at the same time. In your career development, as long as you set professional development goals, you will be surprised that your motivation is likely to evolve and transform.

As you encounter different challenges and achievements, your priorities and passions may evolve, leading to new motivations that shape your career trajectory.

From time to time, if you still find your job fun and engaging, rather than lost motivation at work, these following points can be reasons. 

#1. Working in a diverse culture

Many people love to work with people who come from different cultures. Cross-cultural exchanges broaden your perspectives, boost creativity, and foster a more inclusive and dynamic work environment. It raises the chance to bring out unique perspectives, problem-solving approaches, and ideas.

#2. Having fun

Many companies appreciate teamwork and a friendly, close-knit workplace where employees feel like it is their second family. Many engaging team-building, especially company outings can provide employees with a break from their usual routine, promoting a healthier work-life balance, and truly motivating them to commit to the company.

#3. Feeling a sense of progress

Plenty of employees are motivated by professional progress, it is a reason why they set personal or professional development goals for work frequently. The sense of achievement and progress drives employees to work harder, enhance job satisfaction, and contribute to overall well-being and enthusiasm for their work.

#4. Learning something new

What motivates you at work can come from awesome opportunities to learn new things. Many companies offer professional development programs and workshops to enhance employees' knowledge and expertise. These programs can cover a wide range of topics, from technical skills to leadership and communication.

#5. Giving back to the community

Working is not only about earning money, or earning a lot of money. Many people who work for non-profit organizations or projects find motivation to go to work due to joy and passion in giving back to the community. Knowing that their contributions matter and are valued by the community can be incredibly rewarding.

Key Takeaways

Did you find out yourself in this article? Don't worry if the answer is not. You might want to test yourself with more quizzes relevant to work motivation and personality. 


It is crucial for businesses to understand what motivates employees at work, or employee motivation so that further actions can be taken to improve job satisfaction, nurture talents, and lower turnover rates. If you are thinking of motivating employees in the workplace ideas, check out AhaSlides to get more inspiration with live quizzes, games and team-building, training, and more.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the work motivation?

Work motivation can be defined as the internal psychological process that energizes, directs, and sustains an individual's work-related behaviors. Work motivation can be classified into intrinsic motivation, which comes from internal factors like enjoyment and personal satisfaction, and extrinsic motivation, which arises from external rewards or incentives, such as salary, bonuses, or recognition.

What are the 7 motivators for work?

According to McKinsey & Company consulting firm, the 7 motivators for work include Praise and Recognition, Sense of Achievement, Personal Growth and Development, Autonomy and Empowerment, Supportive Work Environment, Work-Life Balance, Fair Compensation and Benefits.

How do I get motivated to work?

To stay motivated at work, there are several things you can try such as having clear objectives, taking a regular break, dividing larger tasks into smaller steps, acknowledging your accomplishments, no matter how small, and being organized.

Ref: Forbes | Thomson Reuters | Weforum