When it comes to job satisfaction there are an array of things that we factor in.

Wages, travel, type of work, workload, work-life balance. And arguably most important of all, having a good boss.

There have been a multitude of surveys that show how significant this is when it comes to satisfaction and productivity.

But that doesn’t mean the buck stops with your boss. Don’t make the mistake of convincing yourself the responsibility is all theirs when it comes to motivating the people around them.

It’s their job to create the conditions that enable you to feel motivated, and after that it’s over to you.

You need to seek the things that make you feel stimulated, explore learning opportunities, find ways to make your role as meaningful as you want it to be, and take an honest look at ways to be even better in your job. If you can truly say that you’ve done all these things and you’re still demotivated, then it may be time to explore your options and look at roles that are more compelling, exciting and meet your needs.

Let’s take a look at what motivation actually means – what are the things that truly motivate us?

Cash seems like an obvious one but again that’s a misconception. Daniel Pink, in “Drive” describes a study in which economists set MIT students a series of challenges, with small, medium, and large cash rewards for completing them. Much like a typical company bonus scheme. But here’s the surprising thing…it worked as expected for tasks that only required basic mechanical skills. But for other tasks – those that called for more creative and cognitive skills – the bigger bonus actually led to poorer performance. The study was replicated in India where the cash rewards had more relative significance.

However, yet again the top reward – the equivalent of two month’s salary – saw the worst performance.

This shows unequivocally that what we are seeking is much more than what cash can provide.

Pink says our needs boil down to three key elements.

The first is “autonomy” and that’s our ability to be self-directed. Which of course makes sense because we get a sense of achievement when we are given the responsibility to take the lead, and we get results.

The second is “mastery”. Quite simply, we like to hone our talents and become better at what we do. It’s satisfying.

Hobbies are the perfect example, they don’t put money in the bank but they make you feel great. Similarly, at work, the more we develop our skills, the more we can achieve, leading to greater levels of job satisfaction.

And the third is “purpose”. We need to know why we’re doing what we’re doing or we’re simply not inspired.

Companies with a strong and defined purpose, which is well communicated, will get buy-in. People need to understand the impact and contribution they’re making in their role. Take the janitor from NASA who was famously asked by John F. Kennedy, “What do you do?” The response was, “Why Mr President, I’m helping to put a man

on the moon.”

It’s the ultimate motivator because unless you know you’re making a positive contribution your working day may feel like drudgery. Putting a focus on purpose isn’t a new concept, but it has taken surprisingly long to take hold.

And thankfully the old way of doing business – dangle enough money so staff can pay the bills while you make a profit – has now evolved as leaders recognise the things that truly motivate and inspire their workforce go far wider and deeper, whilst employee satisfaction and engagement means more than just turning up at work each day.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network