Motivation

Motivation seeks to understand how to maximise employee productivity in the work environment. This Chapter seeks to consider the complexities surrounding the examination of motivation given the challenges associated with capturing and defining individual behaviour. Work motivation is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behaviour, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration. There is some cognitive element (resulting in either strong or weak motivation) which varies with each individual. Motivation is ultimately a set of forces which boost performance and which increase an individual’s ability to accomplish a particular goal or target, although it should be recognised that this does not always result in superior work performance.

A range of theories are examined. Behavioural approaches considering the psychological dimensions of reward and punishment and the basic concepts of classical conditioning are reviewed to understand how inputs, feedback and reinforcement shape motivation. This baseline provides the foundation for the Chapter to consider the work of Maslow (1943) and the hierarchy of needs as well as Herzberg’s work (1959) on the importance of hygiene and motivational factors. This outlines the importance of considering the needs and expectations of individuals in a much broader context if the issues surrounding workplace motivation are to be understood.

The Chapter’s subsequent examination of process theories argues that individuals are all distinctive and different and thus place emphasis on the individual nature of motivation. Process theories offer a more dynamic appraisal of motivation considering the importance of experience and this is illustrated through a review of the core tenets of Adam’s Equity Theory (1963) and Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (1964). Whilst such process theories approach motivation from a psychological perspective they lack empirical evidence given the complexities associated with measuring individual behaviour.

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Having provided this academic context, the Chapter explores some of the more tangible elements and tools of workplace motivation. The role and application of pay mechanisms in shaping employee motivation is discussed, along with the need to examine other extrinsic, intrinsic and social factors. Importantly, the Chapter notes how pay and financial rewards are perceived as being motivational actors predominantly because issues such as low pay are seen to undermine enthusiasm and commitment. At a social level, individuals may be motivated by team spirit and a sense of belonging, so more social rewards may therefore help motivate individuals in otherwise monotonous workplaces. Such social forces demonstrate that motivation is not just shaped by financial rewards when the impact of actors such as praise/attention, development opportunities and progression are considered.

The importance of job design in supporting motivational approaches and how it can be used to create both a challenging workplace and employee enrichment is addressed. This supports a closing discussion around job satisfaction and how it can be influenced by broader cultural dynamics. In understanding such drivers, the importance of linking individual and organisational goals is emphasised, if employees are to be effectively motivated to deliver the collective outcomes required.


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