There are two kinds of people who don’t need the job you’re providing for them. The first kind is the independently wealthy. The second kind is the person with an in-demand skillset (or rare knowledge/experience).
The last time I was employed, I kept reminding my boss that I came from consulting and I could always go back to it. And that’s what I did. Employers whose main way of motivating employees is to implicitly threaten them with ‘not having a job’ aren’t worth working for.
You should manage all of your employees as if they don’t “need” their jobs and have other options — whether those options are family money or the ability to go out and get another job with their skills.There are two reasons for that:
1. Assuming you’re hiring good people, it’s very likely they do have other options. It might be a pain for someone to leave and find another job, but generally it’s something people are able to do.
2. Using someone’s paycheck as your primary leverage might be effective in the very short-term, but it’s rarely a way to build or retain an engaged, invested staff in the long-term.
The way you motivate someone who doesn’t need the money is the same way you should motivate people who do need the money: by giving them meaningful roles with real responsibility where they can see how their efforts contribute to a larger whole, giving them an appropriate amount of ownership over their work and input into decisions that involve that work, providing useful feedback, recognizing their contributions, helping them feel they’re making progress toward things that matter to them, and — importantly — not doing things that de-motivate people (like yelling or constantly shifting goals or generally being a jerk).