What motivates you at work? Bnet recently ran a poll asking just that. While some are still surprised, “cash” ranked third – behind “doing something meaningful” and “recognition.”

Not surprisingly, praise won out over cash in a similar survey done nearly a year ago, also on Bnet.

So why are people still surprised by this (as evidenced in the comments)? A common comment theme was that you can’t do something meaningful at work. You must look for meaning outside of the workplace and work is only a means to enable you to find that fulfillment elsewhere.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. In many ways GenY is leading the charge on changing this narrow attitude and more power to them. As I said in my comment to the first survey referenced, to many, “doing something meaningful” at work means knowing what your daily tasks are contributing to in the grand scheme of things – how they fit in the big picture and what value they bring to the table.

That’s the goal and primary benefit of strategic recognition, which ties every employee recognition to a company value demonstrated in achievement of a strategic objective. This process automatically shows meaning by telling employees clearly (and in the most positive way) how their valued efforts also deliver value.

How about you? What motivates you at work? Meaningful work? Recognition and praise? Cash? Just having a job?