How can motivational theories be applied in organisations to influence employee behaviour?
1.1 Motivation Defined
2. The Psychological Aspect of Motivation
2.1 The Role of Motivation
2.2 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
3. Motivational Theories
3.1 The Employee Motivation Discipline
3.2 Employee Empowerment
4. Two Types of Employee Motivation
5. Usage of Fun Activities in Motivating Employees
5.1 Importance of Motivation in the Workplace
In the old days, employees were only considered as persons used for the production of goods and services. What perhaps changed this way of thinking about employees was research, referred to as the Hawthorne Studies, conducted by Elton Mayo from 1924 to 1932 (Dickson, 1973). This study found employees are not motivated solely by money and employee behavior is linked to their attitudes (Dickson, 1973). The Hawthorne Studies began the human relations approach to management, whereby the needs and motivation of employees become the primary focus of managers (Bedeian, 1993).
Motivation is the force that makes people does things: it is a result of people’s individual needs being satisfied (or met) so that the person has the inspiration to complete a task. These needs may vary from person to person as everybody has their individual needs to motivate themselves. Depending on how motivated a person is, it may further determine the effort that was laid upon the work and therefore increase the standard of the output. Almost everyone would immediately think of a high salary as the prime factor that determines why an employee can be motivated in the workplace. The answer may be correct for the reason that some employees will be motivated by money, but mostly wrong for the reason that it does not satisfy others to a lasting degree. This supports the statement that human motivation is a personal characteristic, and motivations of employees is not a one size fits all option ( Kovach, 1987).
The Psychological Aspect of Motivation
Some people seem to be very successful, highly motivated individuals than others. Where does the energy, the drive, or the direction come from? Motivation is an area of psychology that has gotten a great deal of attention, especially in the recent years. The reason is that all people want to be successful, have the direction and drive, and eventually be seen as motivated. Motivation is the force that drives a person to do something. It includes varying emotions such as initiative, drive, and intensity, persistence that may inhibit, neutralize, or promote goal-directed behaviors. Motivation has been defined as the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction (Kreitner, 1995); a predisposition to behave in a purposive manner to achieve specific, unmet needs (Buford, Bedeian, & Lindner, 1995); an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need (Higgins, 1994); and the will to achieve (Bedeian, 1993). For this paper, motivation is operationally defined as the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals.
The Role of Motivation
Why motivate employees? The answer is survival (Smith, 1994). Motivated employees are needed in the rapidly changing workplaces. Motivated employees help organizations survive and are more productive. To be effective, managers need to understand what motivates employees within the context of the roles they perform. Of all the functions a manager performs, motivating employees is arguably the most complex. This is due, in part, to the fact that what motivates employees changes constantly (Bowen & Radhakrishna, 1991). For example, research suggests that as employees' income increases, money becomes less of a motivator (Kovach, 1987). Also, as employees get older, interesting and challenging work becomes more of a motivator for them.
In addition, a positive motivation philosophy and practice should improve “productivity, quality, and service” (Sujansky, 2005). Motivation helps people achieve goals, gain a positive perspective, create the power to change, build self-esteem and capabilities, manage their own development, and help others as well.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow is a humanistic psychologist that developed a theory of personality, which is valuable in the field of employee motivation. Basically, they believe humans strive for upper-level capabilities such as creativity and highest level of consciousness. In his view, humans have five needs and if one need is satisfied, they go to the next level and be motivated by the unmet needs to be satisfied as well. In an employee motivational perspective and applying this theory, managers must identify the unmet needs of employees to motivate them. The five needs are the physiological need such as food, water shelter, clothing etc., next is safety—the security of the body, employment, having the resources, property etc. The third one is love/belongingness. Having family, friends, and sexual intimacy. The fourth is esteem—having the confidence, respect of others achievement etc. and lastly, self-actualization—this covers the morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance of facts etc. (Maslow, 1943).
When the first three needs are satisfied, then they move to the next level of needs for self-esteem such as firmly based high-level self-respect and respect from others. If these are satisfied, a person feels self-confident and valuable. When the previous four needs are satisfied the person moves to the highest need of self-actualization. That is the need, which is to do what ever the person is born to do. Wholly, Maslow's Hierarchy of needs in the perspective of employee motivation is to identify the satisfied needs and provide opportunities to meet the unmet needs to motivate the employees.
An understanding of motivation theories can help managers increase employee performance. Employees generally fall into two types: self-motivated, and those that require external motivation to stay motivated. Self-motivated employees tend to exhibit good performance even if they are never provided with much external motivation, but their performance increases still more if they are provided with that motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Employees that do require external motivation certainly improve in performance when skillfully motivated. Highly motivated employees are highly productive employees.
Understanding what motivated employees and how they were motivated was the focus of many researchers following the publication of the Hawthorne Study results (Terpstra, 1979). Four major approaches that have led to our understanding of motivation are Herzberg's two- factor theory, Vroom's expectancy theory, Adams' equity theory, and Skinner's reinforcement theory. Herzberg's theory categorized motivation into two factors: motivators and hygienes (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). Motivator or intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, produce job satisfaction. Hygiene or extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, produce job dissatisfaction. Vroom's theory is based on the belief that employee effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964). Rewards may be either positive or negative. The more positive the reward the more likely the employee will be highly motivated. Conversely, the more negative the reward the less likely the employee will be motivated. Adams' theory states that employees strive for equity between themselves and other workers. Equity is achieved when the ratio of employee outcomes over inputs is equal to other employee outcomes over inputs (Adams, 1965). Skinner's theory simply states those employees' behaviors that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated and behaviors that lead to negative outcomes will not be repeated (Skinner, 1953). Managers should positively reinforce employee behaviors that lead to positive outcomes.
The Employee Motivation Discipline
It is easier to theorize than practice employee motivation. Training the managers extensively on motivating employees will manufacture efficiency and success towards the organization, the employees, and consumers. The rewards for the organization could be less employee turnovers, high levels of motivation, increased productivity, commitment, and teamwork. Moreover, motivation--whether it is self-motivation or employee motivation, is the trigger to act (Trinka, 2003). The factors involved in personally motivating and inspiring employees are not necessarily the factors that motivate all individuals and will lead to overall employee motivation. In this sense, only the individual himself can discover the best methods in which to motivate him. More often than not, employee motivation comes from within the individual. Motivation that comes from the outside, from external factors, is the responsibility of the business leaders. The job of the manager in the workplace is to get things done through the employees. In addition, the employees must be motivated by the manger to produce a stellar performance. The transparency of working together between the two is a surefire method to the success of an organization.
In an organization, the customers usually received all the attention, all the good treatments. However, the employees really are crucial in retaining customers and delivering exceptional service to keep the business flourishing. Companies taking good care of their employees know that employee empowerment is the backbone of the success of an organization. Employees have the authority to do whatever it takes to take care of a customer that would lead to customer's satisfaction, which in turn also leads to the satisfaction of the company. Most executives believe employees need empowerment to execute a job exceptionally. Empowerment is a difficult concept for many bureaucrats to introduce (Magnini, 2007). They would much rather institute policies that eliminate the need for employees to make decisions about how to serve the customer. What they don't realize is that those very policies and procedures they have conjured up prevent employees from doing their jobs well in providing the type of service that will keep customers coming back to do business with the company. The understanding and appreciation of the capability of an employee is a prerequisite to effective employee motivation in the workplace and hence effective management of the organization.
Two Types of Employee Motivation: Internal and External
Internal or self-motivators motivate themselves from within—they acquire drive or reason to do their jobs well based on what they feel within themselves. Recognition for a job well done is strong internal employee motivation. Employees who are internally motivated demonstrate all the appropriate behaviors. It is inevitable that a confident, hard-working employee, who was recognized by the contributions he made and were rewarded by acknowledgement, will pass on those behaviors to other employees. These positive behaviors will lead directly to the success of the organization.
Externally motivated employees get inspired from awards, bonuses, titles, promotions, money, etc. Unfortunately, these external motivators do not last and are not a very reliable source of motivation. Let us say everyone is given a bonus. That bonus will run out and it is not possible that another bonus will be given again immediately. Therefore, the employee gets discouraged. External motivators fade. Employee motivation, like success, grows from the inside out, from within, and not from external to the internal.
Usage of Fun Activities in Motivating Employees
Motivational and inspirational quotes, poems, posters, motivational speakers and stories, team building games and activities, all develop employee motivation for sales and business staff in all kinds of organizations ( Sujansky, 2005). Motivational and inspirational experiences improve employees' attitudes, confidence, and performance. Good leadership demands good people-motivation skills and the use of inspirational techniques. Motivational methods are wide-ranging, from inspirational quotes and poems, to team building games and activities such as icebreakers, warm-ups, and exercises for conferences, workshops, meetings, and events. Motivation is an essential part of life coaching processes and techniques. People playing games or competing in teams learn about each other, they communicate better and see each other in a new light. Mutual respect grows. People often enjoy events, which include new non-work activities, especially when bosses and superiors take part in the same teams as their junior staff, which also helps cohesiveness and 'can-do' culture (Lindner, 1998). Powerful positive imagery stimulates visualization in the conscious and sub-conscious brain, which encourages self-motivation, developmental behavior, confidence, and belief. Playing games enables people to experience winning and achieving in a way that their normal work might not. People become motivated to achieve and do better when they have experienced the feelings of success and achievement, regardless of context. All of these ideas contribute to improving motivation, inspiration, and performance.
Importance of Motivation in the workplace
Motivation can have an effect on the output of a business and concerns both quantity and quality. A business relies heavily on the efficiency of the production staff to make sure that products are manufactured in numbers that meet demand for the week. If these employees lack the motivation to produce completed products to meet the demand, then the business will face a problem leading to disastrous consequences. The number of scenarios is extreme but the general picture is presented. The employees are the greatest asset of business and no matter how efficient technology and equipment may be, it is no match for the effectiveness and efficiency of a staff.
In addition, it is increasingly difficult for organizations or businesses to compete in today’s evolving economic environment. Growing competition, emerging technologies, and shifting workforce patterns make it harder than ever to attract and retain talented employees. The challenge for most companies is to create a working environment that employees find stimulating, supportive, and rewarding.
The performance of the employees can make or break organizational success. Employees believe that decisions that are taken at a “corporate” level are not to their benefit (Magnini, 2007). While this may be true in certain instances, it is also true that it is the management’s fault for not keeping the employees involved to whatever extent permissible. While no individual in the organization needs to be involved in the management level discussions, it is imperative that the company’s vision, strategies and future growth plans be shared regularly so that the employees feel included and thus be motivated. A good and well-equipped organization leader has to demonstrate the appropriate behaviors and create an environment that accentuates employee motivation. When the employees are motivated—may it be internal or external—definitely will put an organization into new heights.
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