Through two decades of experience and original research Chiumento has increasingly become convinced that career motivation is a critical factor in both employee engagement and job performance

Motivation is the energy that converts capability (skills, knowledge and experience) into performance. If we are energised we tend to do a great job and reap great satisfaction. If we aren’t energised we tend to perform less well or avoid the task altogether. The long term result of this low energy is boredom and dissatisfaction for employees – and potentially a performance issue for employers.

In the Oxford English Dictionary one of the definitions of motivation is “I don’t care” – and when people don’t care it is reflected in the quality of their work and the satisfaction they derive from it. Just think about some of your own experiences with customer care, retail and hospitality workers who are just going through the motions. Not only are you likely to have had a bad experience but they won’t have enjoyed it either.  Why do we continue to work in roles that make us miserable?

In discussions with clients we often touch on the “am I bovvered” attitude that emerges when someone just doesn’t care about what they are doing or how their behaviour impacts on others.

For Chiumento, career success is all about being in a role that energises you to perform and enjoy the results. If you can achieve this, you will never truly ‘work’ a day in your life!

Understanding what makes you “happy” at work is a key and very important element that is essential to effective career planning.  If you would like to find out more about our career motivation model and how we apply it in situations as diverse as career management, outplacement and engagement please contact Mike Burgneay or Pedro Venus or call us on 020 7224 3307. They will also be able to talk to you about our latest career motivation “app” for Android devices.

In our Career Carousel work we identified five primary motivation types. Below is an overview explaining more about each of them.


“Show me the money” might be the mantra for materialists. They are energised primarily by the extrinsic rewards of work – such as pay (salary and bonuses), benefits and status. For them work is the route to getting the things they want for themselves and, often, their families.

It would be easy to caricature all materialists as “money grabbers” or “fat cats” whereas the reality could be that their focus is driven by the need to afford the basics. Which we all know can be a real challenge in the current economy.

Materialists also enjoy status. Being recognised by their employer is something they tell us is very important – they may know they are good but they often want the organisation to publicly recognise is. Working for the right boss – who will satisfy this need – is therefore a critical element to job satisfaction.

In our research 18.4% of those surveyed placed themselves primarily in the materialist category. However this hides a significant gender split – with men in some age groups outnumbering women by roughly 2:1.

A very interesting finding in our research is that many materialists are not career risk takers. Many have “Protectionist” as their second most dominant motivation type – suggesting that certainty of reward is almost as important as quantity.

Read the full report.


For Socialisers relationships at work come first. They don’t just need to respect the people around them, they ideally need to like them too. This means “chemistry” with their colleagues and their boss are critical.

Based on Chiumento research, Socialisers are by far the largest motivational type – accounting for around 41% of the workforce. Again this hides a gender split – significantly more women describe themselves as Socialisers than men.

Socialisers see work as a place that should be fun – not just about achieving goals and objectives. They need to look forward to coming to work – rather than seeing work as a means of simple economic security.

Socialisers therefore need to focus as much attention on the culture of any potential employer as what it does or how big it is. Deciding whether an organisation is right for you will therefore depend heavily on people rather than facts, reputation, products or size. You need to exploit – even create – opportunities to meet the extended team to assess how well you will fit.

For example if you are offered a role there is no harm in asking to spend some time with potential peers before making your final decision. If you can make this fairly informal – perhaps meeting over coffee or lunch – you may often get a more open (and potentially honest) picture of team dynamics. You may also get some useful insights into your potential boss.

Read the full report.


Achievers need to be “the best I can”. They thrive on new challenges and often see change as opportunity. They relish demanding targets, complex projects and intellectual stretch.

For Achievers a complex and challenging task well done is often more important than pay. They greatly value development opportunities and will frequently volunteer to take on activities that daunt others.

Work-life balance is far less important to Achievers than the typical worker. Provided they are excited by their work they will put in long hours in order to get the job done.

Read the full report.

True Believers

Loyalty is one of the key traits of true believers. They have a passion about the organisation – usually based on what it does or the values associated with the brand. Who they work for is very important to who they are – and they will act as true ambassadors for the organisation that employs them.

So important is working for the right organisation that True Believers told Chiumento during our research that they would happily take a lower salary to get the right job opportunity.

Perhaps not surprisingly, True Believers are the least likely group to be looking for another job and the most likely to say positive things about their current employer.

What has to be recognised is that loyalty and capability are not always the same thing. Employers often tell Chiumento that one of the hardest challenges is being faced with a True Believer who is passionate about the organisation but unable to perform to the required level.

Read the full report.


Protectionists typically value balance and predictability above all other job factors. Some typical traits include:-

  • A strong desire for job security – even if this means taking a lower paid or less demanding job.
  • The ability to predict both the volume and type of work they will face each day.
  • A need for work-life balance – eg predictable start and finish times
  • A well-defined role in a clear structure – “I know what is expected of me”
  • Slow incremental change rather than major changes of direction

Protectionists potentially have great value to organisations. They are often reliable and undemanding. They also generally tackle routine well – unlike Achievers they thrive on process and procedures. They also act as a brake on “change for change sake” – often acting as the corporate memory of why things are currently done the way they are.

Read the full report.

To request a copy of the full report please complete the form below.

Contact Us

Please leave this field empty.

Your Message

Submit the form