Most workers rate job satisfaction, getting on with colleagues and decent treatment by their managers ahead of receiving a bonus, according to new research.
Three out of five rated enjoyment of their job as the main motivator at work, a survey of 1,000 employees in Britain found.
The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) said its study suggested that the billions spent on bonuses had no impact on the commitment of most workers.
"In the past year, UK companies have collectively spent an astronomical amount on financial incentives for their staff, but this report is telling us there are far more effective, and cost-effective, ways to motivate people," ILM chief executive Charles Elvin said.
"These include giving regular feedback, allowing people to have autonomy in a role, the opportunity to innovate and improved office environments.
"What this also shows is that having good managers is paramount in business, as they are key staff motivators who can make a real difference to their teams.
"It sounds so simple, but something as basic as hearing 'Great work on that report' can be a real boost to an employee's confidence and deliver a sense of pride and satisfaction."
Meanwhile, another study has found most office staff would change their job if they were not allowed to work flexibly.
A survey of 1,000 people by recruitment firm Office Angels found that three out of five would move if their employer did not offer flexible arrangements.
Travel and childcare were given as some of the reasons for wanting flexible work hours, although many said they simply preferred it.
"Flexible working is clearly more important to employees than ever before, and childcare is not the main driver - rather it comes from the preference of employees," Office Angels managing director Angela Smith said.
"A strategic focus on flexible working can help an organisation attract and retain the best individuals. It is clear that a working culture which can adapt to a worker's lifestyle is becoming increasingly important, with employees wanting to achieve the optimum work/life balance."Just over half of those questioned work flexibly, with 57 per cent saying their employers offer flexible working.