Workplace Motivation

One of the most important ingredients for the success of any corporate organization, government agency or non profit is motivation of its employees. This is because the performance of employees is a function of how much the employees are motivated and satisfied with their job. Moreover, employee motivation improves employee retention by reducing the rate of workers’ turnover. Consequently, the ability of the manager or the employee to effectively motivate and engage the workers is an essential skill in any organization. There are various employee motivation programs and strategies that can be implemented in an organization. However, before such programs are implemented, it is important for the manager to have a clear understanding of the details and nature of the motivation strategies and their possible effects on the employee productivity and satisfaction as well as the appropriateness of the strategy depending on the nature of the employees. This calls for the manager to have a clear understanding of the individual workers and how they feel about the strategies.Employee motivationEmployee motivation is a strategy employed by an organization with an aim of orienting or energizing the employees towards the attainment of the organization’s goals and objectives. Employee motivation strategies can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. Motivation is generally used in psychology in describing the causes of behaviors in human beings and also animals. There are several theories that have been developed over the years that have provided an important insight to employee motivation. Basically, motivation of either animals or people involves maximizing pleasure by reducing both psychological and physical suffering.  It is also important to note that motivation of workers in an organization cannot be separated from increasing morale and job satisfactions although they may be different. Employee motivation involves both the status of the employee and actions. Actions in employee motivation involves all steps taken by the organization management to provide a pleasant working condition when the workers have a self drive to complete their task to the best of their abilities and meet the expected standards.  On the other hand, the status is the degree to which the organization objectives of highly motivated employees are achieved. That is, the level of motivation of employees varies from one individual to another or depends on the type of performance appraisal techniques employed (Weightman, 2008).Intrinsic motivation concepts involve motivation strategies that are based on the interests of the individual worker on the job or the task rather than on external factors. Since 1970s, intrinsic motivation concepts have became a major area of study due to its applicability in employee motivation. For example, it has been found that educational achievement is an important motivation to students in institutions of higher learning. Moreover, there are several theories that have been developed to explain this concept of employee motivation which includes the attribution theory, self efficacy theory and the cognitive evaluation theory. Employees can be motivated intrinsically under various conditions. This includes the attribute of their excellent and success in the assigned tasks to factors within themselves, which they have full control over such as their efforts and determination to accomplish the task. Intrinsic motivation can also be applicable when the individual worker is convinced that he or she is an effective agent of attaining the goals and objectives of the organization that is their success in completing a task is not as a result of luck but effectiveness in their duties (Weightman, 2008).On the hand, extrinsic motivation concepts are based on external agents of motivation. The most common form of extrinsic motivation in corporate and government organizations and agencies includes monetary or material rewards or threats and coercion incase of under performance. Competition is also an important form of extrinsic motivation because it orients individuals towards winning and being ahead of the competitors, although there are no intrinsic rewards. Social and emotional support such as a cloud cheering a sportsman in the field to win a trophy is an external motivation factor and can be considered as an intrinsic motivation towards achieving the goal. Research indicates that over reliance on extrinsic motivation programs have resulted into over-justification of these programs and a subsequent diminishing of the more appropriate and effective intrinsic motivation.  Although this has been the most common motivation strategies in the corporate organization, it has received a lot of criticism from sociologists and psychologists who argues that it threatens the natural and intrinsic motivation in individuals. However, the self deterministic theory of motivation suggests that it is possible to internalize extrinsic motivation by the individual and results into increased job satisfaction, improved productivity and individuals well being (Weightman, 2008).Motivation theoriesThe increased need of giving the workers in an organization more and thought to increase their productivity has resulted into development of employee motivation theories. Since the second half of the 20th century, there has been a progressive increase in the number of motivation theories. Motivation theories have emerged as a result of increased surveys by sociologists on what motivates employee in different organizations. Some of the most published employee motivation theories that can be applied in a wide range of organizations include the Maslow’s needs theory, Herzberg’s two factor theory and the incentive theory among others.As stated earlier, rewarding the employees for a job well done is one of the most common employee motivation strategy employed by many organizations. This is in accordance with the incentive motivation theory where an employee is given a tangible or intangible reward for a desirable behavior leading to a success with an aim of causing the behavior to occur in the future. The main intent of the reward is to associate the good behavior to a positive meaning. The effectiveness of the reward on the employee motivation is highest if the employee is awarded immediately and the effect decreased as the time elapses. Research has also indicated that repeated rewarding for a desirable action makes the acts a habit increasing the productivity of the worker. However, it is important to note that development of effective rewarding systems in an organization is not as easy practically as it is theoretically. The material rewards can have a negative effect on the productive relationship between workers, and can jeopardize the goals of the organizations (Robbins, 2007).The Maslow’s needs theory of motivation is based on the psychological needs of workers in an organization. He stipulated five levels of psychological needs that should be fulfilled in the workplaces to improve the workers productivity. The levels of needs are arranged into a hierarchy such that when one level is fully satisfied, the employees will always be motivated to work harder to satisfy the next level of needs. For example, if an individual is unable to feed himself or his family, he will be motivated to work hard and earn the basic wage that can provide him with food before thinking of securing a contract or a well paying job. Consequently, organizations reward their workers differently helping them fulfill the levels of needs progressively up the hierarchy of needs (Robbins, 2007).The two factor motivation theory was proposed by Fredrick Herzberg who argued that there are two factors, motivators and hygienefactors, in any organization that determines the level of workers’ motivation. He suggested that in any organization, motivators can be incorporated which would provide a direct motivation to the workers thus increasing their productivity. On the other hand, hygienefactors are factors within the organization that if absent would de-motivate the workers although their presence do not directly improve employee motivation. Examples of motivators include factors directly related to the task such as promotions, rewards, recognition and increased opportunities. Hygiene factors include other factors in the working environment such as safety in the workplace and reasonable remuneration (Robbins, 2007).ConclusionA motivated workforce is an important factor in the achievement of any organization’s goals. For this reason, motivating the employees is an important task of any manager. In the global corporate environment, there are numerous methods that have successfully been applied in employee motivation. Moreover, many employee motivation theories have been developed and applied in various scenarios over the years. One of the most commonly used employee motivation strategy in many organizations is rewarding the employees for a job well done.ReferenceRobbins, S. P. & Judge, Timothy A. (2007). Essentials of Organizational Behavior, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice HallWeightman, J. (2008). The Employee Motivation Audit: London, UK; Cambridge Strategy Publications