employee Motivation

Employee Motivation
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Background to Motivation
Motivation is defined as a psychosomatic process that directs a person to
behave and react in a way that helps them to satiate certain unfulfilled needs
(Latham G., 2011). Motivation is what provides the stimuli and direction towards
which employees can execute their duties (Lauby S., (2005). Motivation can be
broken into three distinct categories that depend on each other for success. First
of all, individual choices are driven by persistence, which reminds them of their
unfulfilled needs. The choice taken will make an employee change their behavior
in order to be in the right direction that would allow them to achieve those needs.
Thirdly, there is the upholding of that behavior, which will go on until those
needs and desires are achieved. Motivation however occurs differently in varying
situations. Achieving a specific goal requires a particular motivational strategy
and that same strategy cannot be used to achieve another goal.
Theories of Motivation
Need-Based Theories
According to Gary Latham (2011), employees draw their motivation from
unfulfilled needs that they need to satisfy. Were it not for those deficiencies, then
people would never have enjoyed work. The motivation to work therefore is
directly equated to human needs. Once those needs are fulfilled, then the morale
to work goes down. These theories were however opposed and criticized strongly
by many researchers (Latham, 2011). They argued that individuals did not receive
motivation to work due to fulfilling certain needs. Research conducted by these
groups reveal that apart from just fulfilling their needs, many people engage
themselves in jobs for enjoyment. An artist will not just draw a beautiful portrait 
of Zeus just to sell it and make money, but also to practice and enjoy what they
do best (Latham, 2011). Examples of need-based theories include Maslow’s
theory of needs, McClelland’s theory, ERG theory and Herzberg’s two factor
theory. This review will only discuss the Maslow’s theory of needs and
Herzberg’s two factor theory.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
This theory views motivation as a desire that changes over time and these
shifts are governed by different levels of needs. These needs are the actual drivers
of employees to work hard in order to achieve their goals by all means.
According to Hiam Alexander (2003), these needs are organized into a certain
hierarchical order that one must follow in order to reach the highest levels. While
coming up with this theory, Maslow suggested that needs already satisfied can no
longer motivate someone to work hard. Once they achieve their purposed needs,
employees begin to drift towards fulfilling needs that are situated at a higher level
in the hierarchy. This theory was however criticized strongly because one does
not have to follow the order as put by Maslow in satisfying their needs. The order
that Maslow proposed starts with biological and physiological needs at the base,
followed by safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs and selfactualization needs.
 Self actualization needs
 Esteem needs
 Love and belongingness needs
 Safety needs 
 Biological and physiological needs.
As much as Maslow tied employee motivation to hierarchical needs, Hiam
believes that recognition, involvement and participation are among some of the
factors that motivate a worker at the workplace.
According to Crouse Norm (2005), factors such as involvement, achievement,
autonomy, participation, delegation and recognition are what increases the
motivation of employees towards achieving a certain goal. Apart from that,
hygienic factors such as working conditions, salary, and policies also influence
the motivation of employees. As Crouse (2005) further states, poor hygienic
conditions and poorly managed administrative policies lowers the morale of
workers in an organization.
This theory suggests that employers should play the role of motivating their
employees. They should strive to ensure that all the factors involving working
conditions go in favor of the employees - considering these factors will improve
performance and bring better results for any organization. Both the two factors
proposed in this theory work alongside each other. No factor is independent on its
own. Once the hygienic factors are fulfilled, the motivational factors can also be
satisfied. Trying to satisfy only one set may lead to the lowering of work morale
among workers, though. After doing away with the dissatisfaction in hygienic
factors, employers should look forward to involving their employees in
participating and developing programs. This will influence how they will
perceive themselves as a part of the organization, with their due respect and
recognition. This will make them improve their performance in the workplace, for 
they will not only increase the returns but they will also make the working
environment appear more healthy and active. The model below demonstrates how
Herzberg’s two factor theory is carried out.
Ego/esteem Job enrichment
Self actualization Job enrichment
Hygiene factors Job enrichment
Social Relationships
Safety Job security
Physiological Salary
Model adapted from Crouse, 2005.

This theory was also criticized severely by Bruce Anne (2006), who argued
that it did not serve the motivational needs of employees universally. Employees
experience socioeconomic conditions differently and this makes them behave in
variance. Herzberg's theories assumed that the socioeconomic experiences of all
employees are the same.
Process-Based Theories
Unlike need-based theories, these theories focus mainly on job aspects that
motivate employees and change their behavior towards achieving their needs.
According to Bruce (2006), these theories look at how employees fulfill their
needs, while at the same time bargaining between behavioral choices that will suit
their motivational patterns. 
Cognitive Evaluation Theory
It is believed that extrinsic factors are independent from intrinsic factors in
employee motivation. However, this belief does not work in contemporary
organizations, because such intrinsic factors like participation and involvement
are closely linked to extrinsic factors like financial incentives in the motivation of
employees. This is where this theory comes handy, for it provides a dependence
between the external and internal factors and merges them also in the realization
of an employee’s needs. Cognitive evaluation theory argues that satisfying
internal factors first before proceeding to satisfy the external factors does not
work. Both these factors are supposed to be satisfied at the same time for any
improvement to occur in an organization. Giving employees financial incentives
and denying them an opportunity to participate and involve themselves in
organizational matters such as decision-making will not motivate them fully
towards achieving the goals and objectives of that organization (Latham, 2011).
Some of the internal factors to be considered in employee motivation include
appreciation of self-worth, employee autonomy and rewards for the achievements
made. Organizations should consider such factors before coming up with job
designs. The model below demonstrates various reward aspects.
 Importance of Aspects of Reward
Controlling Informational
Proposition 1 Locus of causality feelings of competence
Proposition 2 External/internal self determination
Intrinsically motivated task behavior
Model adapted from Latham, 2011. 
Cognitive evaluation theory can help organizations to attract talented
employees because of the commendable pay and the participation of employees
in decision-making.
Goal Setting Theory
This theory was proposed by Edwin Locke and Latham in 1968. They viewed
goal setting as a major basis and foundation of employee’s motivation. According
to Latham (2011), the intention and objectives of an employee in a workplace is
innate and that is what drives motivation. The more complex the goals become,
the harder the employees work, thus improving performance. Organizations are
therefore supposed to set more challenging goals for their employees in order to
improve productivity. Motivation is the process that controls a person’s behavior
in realizing and achieving certain goals and objectives. As Latham further states,
this theory only looks at the increasing complexity of goals with other factors
remaining constant. In case there is an interruption in other contributory factors,
then the challenge to achieve those goals becomes void. Apart from that,
employees are supposed to accept the challenge of achieving their needs as
presented to them by the goals set. Failure to accept those challenges will instead
reduce the motivation towards performance.
Leaving the employees to set their own goals and objectives will result in
better performance than when they are set for them by their organizations.
According to Purcell John (2003), that autonomy makes employees believe in
themselves and set goals that will be achieved more readily than if the goals had
been set for them by others. Purcell (2003) further suggests that an employee who
is restricted too much is less likely to get motivated than one that is left to 
participate in goal setting and decision-making processes. Contemporary
organizations are supposed to therefore understand the needs of their employees
before setting goals.
The Relationship Between Managers and Employees
According to Ritter Joseph and Anker Richard (2002), the relationship
between managers and their employees greatly affects motivation. Managers are
supposed to come up with strategies that will ensure that employees remain
motivated all the time. One related strategy is formulating a plan where the
employee can have live forums with their supervisors and managers on a regular
basis. Through those forums, managers are also supposed to recognize the
behavioral patterns of their employees. Every employee has their own distinct
behavior that cannot be compared to another. By understanding and appreciating
the behavioral patterns of their employees, managers will be able to know which
incentives and techniques to use to motivate their employees.
Better communication between managers and their employees is also another
factor that strengthens the relationship between them. Managers who rarely
communicate with their employees suffer a blow when it comes to the overall
outcomes of the organization. Ritter & Anker (2002) further point out that the
closer the managers are to their employees, the more motivated the latter become.
Regular communication between the two also makes managers understand the
needs of each personal employee, thus knowing which technique to use to
motivate them. According to Bruce (2006), most managers generalize the needs
of their employees. This generalization is what leads to dismal performances in
most organizations. 
A study carried out by Sdrolias Maria, Terzidis Konstantinos and Vounatsou
Maria (2005) shows that active, friendly and less strict managers are more
inclined to motivate their employees towards achieving the organization’s goals
and objectives. The study was conducted on eight employees of the Tech
Organization in Canada. All the eight employees admitted that their manager was
close to them and that he understood the individual needs of each of them. Three
employees said that they were more motivated by intrinsic factors than extrinsic
ones, while the remaining five revealed that extrinsic factors carried the weight in
their motivation. However, both extrinsic and intrinsic factors mattered in
motivating these employees. If asked whether their manager understood them
completely, all of them responded that he was a man who understood all their
individual needs without generalizing.
Training as a Motivational Factor
Employee training is also another component that keeps employees motivated.
According to Latham (2011), employees are supposed be trained on a more
regular basis concerning the new technologies introduced in an organization.
Most organizations introduce fresh changes in order to remain relevant in the
market. Although such steps are taken to improve the performance of the
organization, a issue arises when the employees fail to incorporate those
technologies in their working systems. Many organizations will carry out a shortterm internal training for their employees. According to Bruce (2006), this
training technique discourages most employees because they are not given
enough time to master new technologies. Instead, both internal and external
trainings are supposed to be done. Employees should be sent out to a plethora of
seminars and conferences that deal with the technology particular to the company. 
This will not only give them exposure, but they will also see themselves as
important players in the organization. The criteria used by some organizations to
only send out only their supervisors and managers for further studies is never
taken well by the employees. They see themselves as less important and this
lowers their morale towards job performance. Apart from technological training,
organizations are also supposed to train their employees in special skills that will
help them overcome difficulties and stress at the workplace. According to Bruce
(2006), stress and other psychological issues like depression reduce the
motivation of an employee drastically. Specialists are supposed to be brought and
teach employees how they can reduce and manage their stress levels. It is difficult
to realize the obstacles employees are going through unless managers develop a
closer relationship with them.
A study conducted by Salmela Katariina & Numi Jari-Erik (2004) at Stanford
University revealed that the non-teaching staff is motivated to work by the regular
training they receive in their areas of expertise. One of the employees in the
kitchen said that she strove to make the best food and serve her customers
jovially. This, she said, was attributed to the program introduced by their manager
to carry out a training that ran for 4 days for all the employees every month. She
revealed that this not only helped her to improve her cooking styles, but it also
encouraged her to be friendly and courteous to the people she served.
Teamwork as a Motivating Factor
According to Hiam (2003), teamwork is also one of the major components that
determine the degree of motivation. In most companies and organizations, sales
are achieved through teamwork. What determines motivation in a team is the type 
of task assigned and its expected outcomes. Once members gather together to
fulfill a certain task, the bond and relationship among them heavily determines
how that task will be accomplished. Team members are supposed to encourage
one another and act as an example to others. Managers and supervisors on the
other hand are supposed to evaluate and understand each team separately.
According to Latham (2011), every team in an organization has its own
motivational factors which might be different from those of another team. To
achieve their desired goals, managers should break down the assigned tasks into
smaller and measurable units that will enable team members to easily assess the
information on how they have performed. This will greatly help them in
determining the amount of effort they are supposed to exert in order to complete
remaining tasks. The selection and formation of teams should be done on the
basis of compatibility. This step requires managers and supervisors to understand
their employees well and how they can perform and react in certain situations.
Even though it is useful to understand an employee on an individual basis, some
employees are understood best in their various teams (Hiam, 2003).
The empirical research conducted by Latham (2011) shows that teamwork is
actually one of the factors that contribute towards employee motivation. The
study was conducted on employees of a bank in India. According to Latham
(2011), banks are among the institutions that are generally believed to be
dependent on individual efforts. This study, however, shows that bank employees
feel more motivated when they work as a team and not on an individual basis.
Ten bankers were interviewed and all of them agreed that consulting each other
while on the job encourages one to work harder in order to achieve the set goals
and objectives. One of the respondents admitted that a career in banking is full of 
challenges and difficult moments. He cited some of the challenges which
included serving fraudulent customers, attending to customers who had not fully
complied with all the rules and even attending to clients whose money had been
withdrawn by conmen. Due to these challenges, he argued that they should be
given freedom to consult their workmates in order to be successful on the job. All
the respondents said that their bank manager was strict and he rarely allowed
them to communicate to each other, but they found themselves breaking that rule
in order to seek help from their team members. All the respondents agreed that
they would be more motivated to perform better if their manager allowed them to
freely consult with each other while in the course of duty.
A Summary Showing the Relationship Between Motivation and Job
Purcell (2003) points out that motivation is the key factor in determining the
success of a worker. As observed from the above cases, motivated employees are
more likely to meet the demands of a job than those who are not. Motivation is an
innate aspect that drives one’s behavior towards achieving certain goals and
objectives. Managers are supposed to understand the psychological needs of their
employees before drawing work plans. Such psychological disturbances like
stress and depression are likely to reduce the motivation of an employee in
carrying out their duties. Employers are supposed to understand the behavior of
their employees before delegating duties to them. Both the need-based and
process-based theories discussed above reveal that intrinsic and extrinsic factors
are supposed to be satisfied concurrently for better performance. Motivating an
employee by financial incentives alone is not enough, for they will need to be
recognized and appreciated as an important person in that organization. 
Appreciating an employee can be done through many acts, including training and
educating them on the rising issues in the organization. Motivation should
therefore be considered as a key aspect of job satisfaction. 
Bruce, A. (2006). How to Motivate Employees: 24 Proven Tactics to Spark
Productivity in the Workplace. NY, McGraw Hill Professional.
Crouse, N. (2005). Motivation is an Inside Job: How to Really Get Your
Employees to Deliver the Results You Need. Oxford, iUniverse.
Hiam, A. (2003). Motivational Management: Inspiring Your People for
Maximum Performance. NY, AMACOM.
Latham, G. (2011).Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research and Practice.
Lauby, S. (2005). Motivating Employees: Career Planning & Talent
Management. Washington DC, American Society for Training and Development.
Purcell, J. (2003). Understanding the People and Performance Link:
Unlocking the Black Box. NY, CIPD Publishers.

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