Workplace Recognition and Incentive Programs

Employee Motivation

Posted on January 12, 2011 by Motivo Staff in Uncategorized

Employee Motivation is becoming ever more important in the workplace and everyone agrees that a motivated workforce is far more likely to be a successful workforce. The happier and more professional an employee is, the better the results they will deliver to your organization. Of course, every employer wants to make sure that they have a workforce who will do their best, but this does not simply mean making the job easy for their employees. In fact, part of the problem of motivation is that where the job is too easy, employees become complacent.

There is therefore a challenge for all employers and management in delivering the right balance between a confident, motivated workforce and a workforce which is driven to attain goals. It can be described as a mix between the pleasure of a comfortable working environment and the fear of failure, although truthfully it is more complicated than that equation suggests. Regardless of how it is characterized, it is important to get the right balance in order to ensure that you have a motivated workforce. But how do I get get the best out of a confident, motivated set of employees? How do I foster motivation in that group?

The importance of psychology in achieving and maintaining Employee Motivation is essential. A message can be repeated over and over to a group of employees but unless they believe it and believe in it, the words are empty. Some of the key psychological theories which aid employers in their end goal of producing a motivated workforce are Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and an understanding of the two theories in application.

Herzberg’s theory is that Employee Motivation is affected both by the employee’s level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction and that, importantly, these two elements are independent of one another. That is to say that although an employee can be satisfied by the elements of their job which are intrinsic to the job itself, such as achievement and recognition, while at the same time being dissatisfied by the elements which are secondary factors of the work – pay and benefits, job security and relationships with co-workers. In terms of motivating employees, it is important to encourage satisfaction on the one hand, and avoid dissatisfaction on the other.

Abraham Maslow’s pyramid detailing the hierarchy of human needs is actually a more general listing of things on which every human should be able to rely, but is applicable to the issue of Employee Motivation. In any job, from the most basic to the most specialized, the employee should be able to rely on the employer and their co-workers to uphold their access to the most basic needs – those which are essential and without which a human’s health will suffer. The absence of access to these needs is the basis for everything else. As we go up the pyramid the needs become less essential but arguably more decisive.

Other motivational theories explained:

The Object-Oriented Theory or “How to balance making an employee feel valued without letting them become coddled.” Many would recognize this as the “carrot and whip or stick” approach.

Plant Theory: In order to ensure that a plant flourishes it is important to give it the best combination possible of different nourishing elements: sunlight, warmth, water and food in order to grow in the way you would wish. By the same token, employees will be motivated by a combination of factors.

Reinforcement Theory: We are all conditioned to act in certain ways based on certain stimuli. Use of positive and negative reinforcement will condition our behavior in certain circumstances. Use of Reinforcement Theory in the workplace relies on…

Expectancy Theory:  concentrating on the result of the work as the ultimate goal. This is where effort, performance and outcome intersect to create results. The theory is that if the employee is sufficiently motivated to achieve the results, their performance will be better as a result, and the outcome will to some extent take care of itself as a result of improved performance – which will itself be a result of greater effort.

The importance of motivation in any workplace is clear to see. Without motivated employees any manager or team leader will find it a lot harder to achieve the results they are after.