What Motivates Us at Work - and What this Means for Recruiters

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

What Motivates Us at Work - and What this Means for Recruiters


Research has identified three pillars of motivation at work: Autonomy – having control over our time and tasks, Mastery – being able to use and develop skills that you enjoy, and Purpose – understanding that what you do has value.

As recruiters, it is important to understand to what extent your organisation, and specifically the role you are recruiting for, offers these three motivational factors. If it ticks all three boxes, try to capture this in the Job Ad. The more engaging a Job Ad, and the more it speaks to the motivations of top candidates, the more likely you’ll attract high quality applications. You’ll be able to develop this conversation about motivation further at the interview stage.

Let’s take a look at these three factors in closer detail:

Autonomy: Where it is possible to manage our own time, to have the capacity and, perhaps most importantly, the trust of our supervisors to think creatively and independently about how to approach tasks and problems, we feel happier in the workplace. 

Mastery: We all have natural strengths, and finding a role that not only plays to those strengths, but gives us the necessary freedom and resources to develop those to the best of our abilities promotes confidence and self-esteem. 

Purpose: Knowing that what we’re being asked to do at work has genuine value and will make a difference, not only within the organization but even in a wider context, makes us far more inclined to engage fully with a task and find enjoyment in it.  

A solid understanding of key motivations will help recruiters and indeed managers and HR professionals find and retain the best talent for their organisations.      

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