Motivation in the Workplace Nhu-Khanh Nguyen Organizational Devlopment & Culture November 10, 2010 ? Abstract In today’s competitive marketplace, understanding what stems employee motivation and ways to improve organizational performance is critical. To ensure success, employers continuously strive to look for ways to maintain employees’ motivation and engagement towards the job. This is easier said than done. Individuals are motivated differently as they all come from different backgrounds.
It is challenging for organizations to know exactly what the motivators are, and how to meet the needs of employees. Organizations rely heavily on motivation theories to distinguish what the motivation factors are for the employees. Together, findings and research suggests that companies will succeed if they possess happy, motivated, and engaged employees. Motivation in the Workplace “To succeed… You need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you (Dorsett as cited in Patel, 2009)”.
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In today’s competitive marketplace, motivation is the key for talent retention and job performance. In order to succeed, regardless what the economic environment is, the goal for organizations is to develop an environment that is engaging and motivating, where employees would want to stay (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010). McShane & Von Glinow (2010) defines “motivation as the forces within a person that affect the direction, intensity, and persistence of voluntary behavior” (p. 132).
The responsibility of motivation in an organization is threefold. It relies on the senior leadership, the direct manger, and the employee. Numerous factors are involved, including trust, engagement, values, job satisfaction, achievement, acknowledgement, and rewards. It truly is a 50-50 relationship between the employee and the employer to enhance the power of engagement in the workplace (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010). Employees are motivated differently. It is important that organizations know what is important to their employees and mphasize these factors. Besides monetary gain, work provides people with fulfillment from various levels. Performing quality work can be aspiring and ultimately have a positive impact on the quality of life. People’s point of view may change throughout time and there may be changes in their home life and responsibilities. It is important for companies to continue to re-evaluate the drivers of motivation for their employees. Employee motivation and performance relies heavily on how they are treated by the employers.
Organizations must develop ways to treat their employees so that they are motivated and satisfied. Employee must behave in ways to help their organization become effective and high-performing. In order to provide people with meaningful work and rewards, organizations need to be successful. For an organization to be successful, it needs high-performance individuals. To create a more engaged and motivated workforce, employers need to understand the motivational forces within people (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010).
Employee engagement is one of the highest elements that influence motivation. Employee engagement is defined as “the employee’s emotional and cognitive motivation, self-efficacy to perform the job, perceived clarity of the organization’s vision and his or her specific role in that vision, and belief that he or she has the resources to get the job done” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010, p. 132). It is measured by the extent of how committed employees are to their job, how hard they will work, and how long they will stay. People join organizations for different reasons.
It may be due to job security, benefits, or compensation (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010). Individuals may join a workplace for a sense of satisfaction, feeling pride after achieving hard work, and opportunities to proved excellent customer service. Managers can best motivate employees by offering rewards that are most meaningful to the employee. Many organizations rely on theories for insight into how to motivate employees, how to reward employees for hard work, and how to improve performance. The Expectency Theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene Theory, McClelland’s Needs for Achievement Affiliation and Power, Equity Theory, and Goal-Setting Theory are the highlighted theories that shape the concept of motivation in the workplace” (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010). Expectancy Theory by Victor H Vroom suggests that motivation is high when employees believe that high levels of effort lead to high performance and high performance leads to the highest level of desired outcomes.
McShane & Von Glinow (2010) defines The Expectancy Theory as “ a motivation theory based on the idea that work effort is directed toward behviors that people believe will lead to desired outcomes” (p. 143). Employee lack motivation when an employer fails to provide the desired outcome as a result of high performance. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the most widely known theory of human motivation. Abraham Maslow described that people seek to satisfy five basic need: physiological, safety, belongingness, self-esteem and self actualization needs (from lowest to highest) (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010).
Physiological needs are met when employees are provided with a place to eat, comfortable temperatures to work in, and a basic salary. By offering health benefits and a safe work environment, employers are providing employees with safety and security needs. Creating a social network inside and outside of the workplace among employees is an example of meeting the belongingness need. Esteem needs are met when employers offer recognition systems that complement individual performance. Self-actualization needs are met when there are opportunities for development and skill utilization, challenging projects, and promotions.
When the lower level needs have been met, the next higher level begins to motivate the behavior. Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene Theory developed by Frederick Herzberg focuses on two factors applicable to the workplace. The first requirement is Hygiene factors, includes a comfortable working environment, adequate pay, and a good relationship with coworkers and management. Motivators lead to increased performance by providing opportunities for recognition and advancement for professional growth (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010).
Employees lack motivation when the employer does not offer the opportunities for growth and advancement in the organization. Needs for Achievement, Affliliation and Power Theory by David McClelland, explains that each person has three needs. The first need is achievement, which is a strong desire to perform well. The second need is affiliation described as being liked and having positive interpersonal relationships. The third need is power, an individual’s desires to control or influence others (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010).
If one of the needs is missing from the equation, motivation would not be present. Equity Theory by J Stacy Adams is about people’s perceptions of fairness of their work outcomes in relation to their work inputs. The theory suggests that motivation is influenced by comparing a person’s own outcome over his/her input ratio with others (McShane & Von Glinow, 2010, p. 152). Skill, effort, reputation, performance, experience, education, training and hours worked are example of inputs that the employee contributed to the job. Outcomes are what employees receive from the organization in exchange for the inputs, such as pay, promotions, recognition, prefential treatement, or preferred jobs in the future” (McShane and Von Glinow, 2010, p. 152). For example, an employee may be less motivated at work knowing that his/her co-worker gets paid a higher salary for the same job duties. Goal Setting Theory by Ed Locke and Gary Lathman suggests motivating employees by setting and meeting goals that will improve the overall performance of the organization.
Defined by McShane & Von Glinow (2010), “goal setting is the process of motivating employees and clarifying their role perceptions by establishing perfomance objectives” (p. 146). Specific, difficult and measurable goals that employees set are the main determinant of their motivation and performance. When employees are provided with achievable, specific, and challenging goals from the employers, employees are more motivated to shell out their best performance. Another important element that influences employee motivation is for employee to be trusted to get the job done without being micromanaged. Researchers have recognized trust as an important component to contributing to successful collaboration, performance efficiency, and procedural efficacy in workplaces” (Schmidt, n. d. )As discussed in the article Build Trust in Your Organization, Ciancutti (2001) states “One that is built on earned trust, where the principles of closure, commitment, communication, speedy resolution, respect and responsibility have been incorporated into the very DNA of the workplace culture” is the characteristic of a healthy work environment (p. ). The way to achieve such environment is for senior leadership to take the intiative to learn the process of trust. The trust behavior must be modeled by senior leadership and managers. Lastly, the organization needs to create a work environment for the behavior. To create a healthy work environment where employees are ontinuously motivated, employees are requesting their employers perform the following: 1) Employers need to provide employees with sufficient information and resources to perform the job; 2) Employers must ask employees for their ideas and input by involving them in decisions makings; 3) Employers need to find out directly from each employee what motivates him/her; 4) Employers should always personally congratulate employees for their excellent work; 5) Employers need to establish good channels of communication with employees; they should be physically accessible and available; 6) Employers must have clear and measurable goals; (“Top 20 Ways to Motivate Employees”, 2008). In an interview conducted by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the interviewee Kenneth Somers shared what his motivators are.
Somers feels it is important that employers communicate with staff on a regular basis, and follow communications with actions. It is also important that management share status reports with employees, recognize achievements, and deliver the commitments that employers make. When communicating with employees, employers should listen with genuine intent, and give strong feedback. Somers also stated that employees everywhere want to feel respected and be treated fairly. Employees commonly want to work for an employer in which they have pride and that offers opportunities for growth (“Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance,” 2010). One of the top employers that promote motivation is Southwest Airlines.
The company’s mission is simply: “Employees are our first customer” (as cited in Nelson, 2002, p. 1). Herb Kelleher, is the airline’s longtime CEO and now chairman, has always believed that a company is stronger if it is bound by love, rather than by fear (Nelson, 2002). Employees are welcome to come to work dressed in shorts, polo shirts, and sneakers. They are encouraged to tell jokes and have fun on the job. There is a high level of involvement throughout the company in making decisions and recommendations for change. At Southwest Airlines, employees are encouraged to think outside the box, and are often rewarded for breaking the rules. Recognition is part of everyday life.
Celebrations occur daily and weekly somewhere on the Southwest property. Southwest is dedicated to keeping its employees happy and motivated, which enables the company to provide excellent customer service and continue to be successful. Many organizations continuously research ways to be successful. The secret to achieve and maintain success is to keep employees motivated, happy, and engaged. Organizations must research and define what the motivators are for their employees and strive to meet those needs. Success for an organization is reached when the customers are satisfied. To provide excellent customer service, companies will need loyal and motivated employees to perform the job.
The bottom line is, if employees are happy, customers are happy. If customers are happy, the company will succeed. References Ciancutti, A. (2001, May 7). Build trust in your organization. McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, 23(6), 33. Retrieved from http://find. galegroup. com/gtx/infomark. do? &contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T003&prodId=AONE&docId=A75669769&source=gale&srcprod=AONE&userGroupName=lom_davenportc&version=1. 0 McShane, S. L. , & Von Glinow, M. A. (2010). Foundations of Employee Motivation. In Organization Behavior (5th ed. , pp. 132-156). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. Motivation in Today’s Workplace: The Link to Performance. (2010, July). HRMagazine, 55(7), 1-9.
Retrieved from Business and Company Resource Center database. Nelson, B. (2010, August 1). Motivation Matters: Southwest Employees LUV Their Jobs [Press release]. Retrieved November 2, 2010, from http://www. meetingsnet. com Patel, N. (2009, December 7). 101 Motivational Business Quotes [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from http://www. quicksprout. com/2009/12/07/101-motivational-business-quotes/ Schmidt, A. (n. d. ). Motivation in the Workplace [Research paper]. Retrieved from Google Scholar database. Top 20 Ways to Motivate Employees [Fact sheet]. (2008, September 1). Retrieved from Supervision website: http://www. allbusiness. com/labor-employment/human-resources-personnel/11569314-1. html
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