What are Your Work Motivations? Money, Myself, Member, Mastery or Mission?

group of motivated coworkers celebrating at work

Can I get more fulfillment and connection from my job? Who is responsible for my work motivation?

What is work to you? Is work a job; an opportunity to be part of a team; an outlet for mastery; or does it allow you to give back to society? And more importantly—could it be the key to your personal fulfillment and happiness? According to a recent Gallup study, employee engagement is on the rise in the United States. Yet it has reached a new recent high of only 34% engagement. In other words, 66% of employees are not engaged with their work.

U.S. Employee Engagement Trend chart from Gallup
Source: Gallup

Many of us are seeking more purpose from our work. However, many view our work as not meeting our needs. And when our needs are not met, we tend to feel sad, defeated and disillusioned. This can lead to more work issues or health issues. Could the answer to better work engagement and enjoyment lie in a work motivation model? Is it possible for more people to find purpose through work and increase their sense of engagement and enjoyment?

M5 Work Model Explained

Making a living is one of the pillars of life. For most, a job is a primary method to make money. We secure jobs to sustain the life we are used to living. Yet for many, a job is not enough. We want more from life and our work.

In 2015, Igor Kokcharov put forward the M5 work motivation model. The model suggests we have five levels of connection to our work. The 5 M’s that makeup Kokcharov’s motivation model are (1) Money, (2) Myself, (3) Member, (4) Mastery, and (5) Mission.

Top 5 Work motivations pyramid

Essentially the theory takes after Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which indicates that we all have needs that influence our behavior and motivations. These physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization needs are crucial to our professional lives. Similarly, Kokcharov’s theory proposes we have five different types of motivations for work.


Money is the primary reason people work. For many at this level, work is a necessity and does not provide any additional satisfaction. People who view their jobs as just jobs tend to have lower engagement. Money is the base level of motivation for people to seek work.


The second level in the pyramid is Myself. Myself motivation means working for some inherent satisfaction you get from your work.  For example, musicians in addition to performing for money may just enjoy the time they spend playing their instruments and enjoy the music they help create. Many people find personal enjoyment and satisfaction in their work. Think of the chef who enjoys the creativity of cooking or the graphics artist who enjoys the creation of designs. A person who works in a flower store may get enormous personal satisfaction and enjoyment from the smell of flowers and creating floral arrangements. For people who have Myself motivation, their job may include a money motivation. For some people, the enjoyment of their job can be more important than money.


The third level, Member, refers to our connection to the people we work with. Being a member of a team can be rewarding and increase our motivation to work. For many, our fellow employees are a big source of job satisfaction and create a strong sense of motivation for work.  We enjoy helping each other and accomplishing goals together. We are motivated to come to work because we feel important as a member and do not want to let our other team members down. When people feel connected to teams and people, they will often go the “extra mile” and work more because they connect to the sense of purpose of the team and possibly the overall company.

During exit interviews, many employees cite their fellow workers as one of the best parts of their job. Many people find purpose in ordinary jobs when they know the importance of their role to the overall team and feel connected to their teams.


The fourth level of M5 is called Mastery. This can be a very strong motivation for people to work. For example, the musician may aspire to master her instrument and get personal and community recognition. Work is a quest, a personal challenge. The athlete may want to become the best at his sport. The researcher seeks to master a field of study. A nurse wants to master her techniques and abilities. For those who seek mastery, time spent in their work is enjoyable.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously researched and authored Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. His work on “flow” and how people emotionally and physically get so absorbed in their work they lose self-consciousness and a sense of time is seminal. For those seeking Mastery, flow is an enjoyable state where their work is fulfilling.  Mastery can apply to virtually any work, yet it typically must be a conscious choice. Someone must choose to pursue this motivation level.


Finally, work motivation at the ultimate level for many people is when it is Mission basedi.e. bringing value to others and changing the world. Mission-based work integrates a person’s desire to have a purpose beyond themselves yet take care of other important needs. Three of the M5 motivational factors, Money, Myself and Mastery, are primarily individual or internal motivations. Member motivation involves connectivity to your team. Mission-based motivation involves finding purpose in helping your broader-based community and the world.

When someone is highest on the pyramid of motivation they find value in their work by helping others. Mission-based work is highly sought after today by Millennials and Gen Z, and the work we do has the potential to have all levels of motivation.

In the book, The Purpose Economy, author Aaron Hurst makes a compelling case that the next evolution of our economy is purpose-based work. He eloquently describes how people are seeking more purpose-based work. He suggests purpose-based work is plentiful and people across many occupations are finding purpose. He also cites studies that support the notion that mission-based work across occupations is omnipresent.

Why is the Model Important?

Statistics show that we spend more than 50% of our awake time during the week at work. Over a 50-year span, we will spend over 35% of our non-sleeping hours at work. A lot of our lives revolve around work, and there are times when it can be difficult to feel motivated in our jobs. Stresses from our personal and professional lives can make us feel stuck, unnecessary, or unfulfilled.

Graph showing importance of happiness at work

Understanding the M5 Work Motivation Model can teach us how we can be our own motivators and develop a richer, purposeful connection to our work. It can lead to better life satisfaction and health. We all want to enjoy life and maximize our time. Discovering what motivates you brings you a step closer to self-actualization, happiness, and fulfillment.

More M’s Mean More Job Satisfaction

According to various employee statistical analyses, pay is not the most important driver for employee satisfaction. One study showed that for a 10% increase in pay, companies could expect an employee engagement increase of only 1% to 2%.

The big 3 drivers of employee satisfaction are relationships with co-workers, opportunities to use skills and abilities, and meaningfulness of their job. Naturally, when you get to ascend the steps, it means you are more satisfied with your professional life.

drivers for engagement linked to work motivation chart
The top three biggest drivers for engagement (as reported by employees) link directly to four of the five work motivations on the M5 model. According to the findings, people are consistently motivated by more than just money.

Who is Responsible for Your Work Motivation?

Your work motivation is a summation of the M5 work motivation categories. Some of these categories as previously mentioned are singularly personal. While the burden of motivation for employees is typically placed upon employers, nothing could be further from the truth. Feeling connected to team members at work is not your boss’s job alone.

As an employee, you must take that upon yourself to find your motivation. Your passion to master your field resides in you. Enjoying the nature (Myself) of your work is personal to you.  And studies support that even mission-based work motivation is spread across occupations and is dependent on a person’s point of view with their work.

You can control your sense of teamwork (Member), achievement and originality (Myself and Mastery) and your sense of work (Mission).

Company leadership also has an important role to play, yet I challenge you to think about this question: “Should you leave the job of managing your work motivations, purpose and feeling of connection in your workplace to someone else?”

To me, the answer is obvious.

About the Author

Previously the CEO of Butler International and Chief Executive Magazine, Ed has since founded Bold Business LLC, a worldwide media and technology company and the home of BoldBusiness.com and ProjectBoldLife.com. With an advanced degree in Economics from Columbia University and decades of experience helming global businesses, Ed has seen success take many forms for many different people - Project Bold Life is where he shares those lessons.

Ed was the recipient of Diversity Magazine's Diversity and Inclusion 2019 Impact Award, for extraordinary service supporting the D&I movement. His book, "Project Bold Life: An Essential Guide to Achieving Your Bold Goals and Living a Bold Life", is available on Amazon.
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