The concept of motivation refers to a driving force within all individuals to attain or avoid some objectives (be the objectives tangible, money and goods or intangible; a person or relationship). Motivation is a psychological process that originates both within and also beyond an individual; it initiates work-related behaviour, and determines the form, direction, intensity and duration of employees behaviour. This essay provides an understanding of how managers can adopt different types of motivation theories in order to affect an employee’s commitment and performance at work. These motivation theories are categories into content theories (for instance, Hierarchy of needs, ERG-Model) and process theories (for instance, Equity theory, and expectancy theory). In addition, the essay explains how employees are intrinsically motivated and extrinsic and how pay affect commitment and performance.
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Managers must understand employees’ motives, as it affects the extent to which employees utilise their skills and ability at work. Motivation makes people try to achieve certain targets in order to satisfy a particular need or expectation. It affect and employees behaviour in a certain way and makes them make decisions to act in certain way and to continue with these actions until they satisfy their needs and expectations. Thus, a manager must adopt motivation theories in order to influence the behaviour and performance of employees. Once a manager satisfies the need of an employee production and commitment to the organization will increase.
Abraham Maslow (1943) believed that is it human nature to want things. He claimed that what we want also depends on what we already have. According to Marlow, there is a five level hierarchy of needs; when an employee satisfies most of one need, he or she seeks to reach the next level. Beginning with the physiological need (such as hunger, sleep, sex) at bottom, a employees would move to the second stage; safety need (for instance shelter and security). Thirdly, love need; this involves an employee having a sense of belonging, (for instance, being a team member and sharing love). Fourth level consists of esteem needs, which are met by professional (or personal) achievement, recognition and respect. At the pick of the hierarchy is self-actualization needs; this is where employees realise their full potential.
In striving, for achieving these needs, employees are motivated by those goals that are seen as attainable, and then eventually leading to self-actualization. Once at that level and employees performance will rise as well as show commitment to the organisation. Once a need is ‘satisfied’, it is no longer a motive. An employee striving for high level needs is unsatisfied. If an employee cannot achieve the next level of needs, their performance in the work place may suffer. If their needs cannot be met or have already been met, an individual may feel that they have nothing to work for and will therefore be unhappy in their job and want to change.
Managers should provide tools and support to allow employees to reach the next level. Once at the top of the hierarchy (self actualisation), managers must promote and maintain psychological wellbeing at work. This increases an employee’s commitment to the organisation and allows them to utilise their skills effectively.
However, Maslow’s hierarchy has been criticized for assuming motivation is hierarchical. Also, employees’ needs are so complex and different that motivation and job satisfaction may not be able to be generalised.
Aderfer (1972) studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and created the ERG theory. This theory states that there are three core needs: Existence, Relatedness and Growth (ERG). He realised that some of Maslow’s hierarchy levels overlapped. He addressed this and reduced the hierarchy down to three levels. The first level, existence, is concerned with providing basic material existence motivators (physiological and physical safety needs). Relatedness is an employee’s need of interpersonal relationships, achieving group and team recognition. These align with Maslow’s social needs and the external component of Maslow esteem needs. Finally, growth needs relates to an employee’s intrinsic needs and personal development. This includes esteem and self-actualization.
The ERG theory states that an employee is motivated by more than one need. The theory also addresses differences in culture and is an improvement of the Maslow theory. Also, the order in which needs are satisfied differs from individual to individual.
A manager must understand that an employee has various needs to satisfy. If a manager solely concentrated on one need at a time, he or she is not able to effectively motivate an employee to commit to the organisation. Also the frustration-regression aspect of this theory has an effect on workplace motivation, meaning when an employee’s higher-order needs aren’t achieved, employees aim at lower-order needs which are easier to satisfy. For instance, if an employee is not provided with growth and advancement opportunities, they might address less important needs like socialization, if the environment permits it. When a manager realises this, steps can be taken in to fulfil these needs and encourage commitment and performance of the employee.
In 2009 the Southeast airline was one of the most profitable airlines in the world. This was no accident, but phenomena of well-motivated employees. Managers used the key concepts of Aderfer motivation theory in order to develop and enforce company values. These values encompassed that employees come first and then customers and stockholder. Through this employee felt a sense of belonging (the Relatedness needs) which in turn increased an employee’s commitment and performance at work and lowered staff turnover for the Southeast airline company.
Fredrick Herzberg’s (1959) two factor theory, or motivation hygiene, builds on Maslow’s research on intrinsic motivation in the workplace. The first factor is ‘hygiene’ or ‘maintenance’, the second one is ‘motivators’ or ‘growth’. Based on his research, he concluded that there are some job conditions which dissatisfy employees, while other job conditions motivate and increase job satisfaction.
Traditionally, managers saw the hygiene factors (extrinsic issues) as motivators for employees, but according to this theory these are potentially dissatisfying factors, as they don’t really provide motivation for an employee, however the absence of these factors causes dissatisfaction with salary, working conditions and supervision.
Motivation factors are intrinsic issues helping increase motivation and job satisfaction. To ensure commitment and performance of an employee, a manager ensures these factors are present as they affect the level of job satisfaction. These factors are achievement, responsibility and autonomy. Nevertheless, critics say it mainly relates to workers in unskilled jobs, or uninteresting, repetitive work.
Maslow’s and Herzberg’s theories are called content theories; a theory referring to what drives or pushes employees in relation to satisfaction and commitment to an organisation. There are also theories known as process theories that concern themselves with the process that involves motivation. This can be related to pay. Many employees are motivated by performance-based pay, an incentive linked to performance, acting as a motivator. These desires for tangible rewards are classified as extrinsic motivation factors.
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Many theorists think payment relates to performance. Graham and Sluckin (1954) and Opsal and Dunnette (1966) explained ‘it is easy to find employees in an industry who value money highly’, and when if people know salary is pay based, they will often work much harder. F.W Taylor (1991) also believed that those workers are solely motivated by monetary incentives, and they want to obtain the highest possible wage through working in the best and most efficient way. This approach is also known as the rational-economic concept of motivation.
Some payment-performance theories are expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964), goal-setting theory (Lock and Latham, 1984, 1990). Vroom believed that individuals are motivated by the results of their action. To explain, he constructed a model with three variables: force, valence and expectancy. Force is the effort an individual uses to carry out a particular task. Valance is the attractiveness of the outcome and expectance is the employee expectation of the outcome. According to the theory, motivational force is a function of valence and expectancy (force=valence x Expectancy). The expectancy theory suggests individuals will adjust their behaviour only if the rewards are valued. However, unless rewards are perceived by individuals to be sufficiently attractive and worth the effort needed to achieve them, they will not act as a catalyst to encourage higher performance levels.
The basis of goal-setting theory is that goals employees pursue are a significant factor in superior performance. For these to be motivators, the SMART principles (specific, measureable, agreed realists and timed) need to be applied. Lawler and Porter’s motivational model recognises individual abilities and role perception have to be taken into account in the wage/effort bargain.
In 1998 a survey revolted that 40% of British companies used pay related performance system in their companies. Today, almost half of all British companies use this type of motivation. This can be especially seen in Global Banks such as Lloyds Bank TSB Group.
Nevertheless Critics argue that pay is not the only source of motivation. Managers quote Herzberg view that the job in itself is a source of motivation. This is backed up with studies that reviled that pay is the fifth of their top ten motivations.
Lawler (1968) gives an insight on job design and how it affects motivation. He argued that making jobs more challenging (job enrichment) and giving the individual more tasks (job enlargement) will increase an employee’s sense of accomplishment and achievement after a good performance. This will help satisfy their higher needs as described by Maslow. The correct job design for an individual will increase their satisfaction, in turn leading to motivation and significantly improved performance in the workplace. However, it is important to take individual differences into consideration as differences in motivation exist. The changes in the nature of jobs therefore vary in terms of how effective they are.For instance it is argued that the Japanese approached to job design contributed to the success of car manufacturing in the 1980s
Certain types of motivation can also be described as intrinsic, where employees are motivated by a ‘psychological’ reward, either by overcoming challenges or by individual achievement. Eton Mayo supports this idea of intrinsic Motivation. Through a series of studies at the Hawthorne plant, Mayo concluded that money was not the best way to motivate employees, and that group work and strong manager-team communication are better motivators. Taking this into account, businesses should re-organise or change production to encourage teamwork, and introduce personal departments to encourage greater manager involvement in employees’ interests. This would motive staff and improve individual and whole business performance.
Individuals are also motivated by knowing that they are treated fairly at work. This treatment relates to salary, working conditions and promotion opportunities. This is the basis of Adams’ equity theory. This looks at how fairly people are treated in comparison to others. When people believe they are treated fairly, they consider different inputs and outcome. If an individual feels that they have not been treated fairly in the workplace, this has an adverse effect on motivation, their productivity is affected. If they think they are being treated fairly, this has positive effects on performance.
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