How to Motivate Your Employees Essay

Introduction, the need for employee motivation, relationship between employee motivation and success of a firm.

  • Employee Motivation in the 21st Century

Strategies of Employee Motivation

Recommendations on how to motivate employees.

Employees form the most important part of any organization. According to Chopra (2002), employees are the most important assert within an organization. Employees will determine success or failure of an organization based on the approach they give to the various tasks assigned to them.

Employee motivation is therefore, very important in ensuring that employees achieve desired result in various tasks assigned to them in order to ensure an overall success of the firm. Motivated employees tend to give their best effort in all that they do. The work with very little supervision, and do not wait to be directed to perform given tasks. They work with the vision of the organization in their heart, always determined to see success in all that they do.

It is because of this that various firms have come to appreciate the need to have a group of motivated employees. Firms are currently struggling to ensure that they offer their employees the best working environment that will ensure that they are constantly motivated. Employees’ motivation always has a direct impact on the success of the firm in the given industry. This paper focuses on ways in which employees of a given firm can be motivated.

For a long time, labor has not been given its rightful position in many organizations. Many of the managements have not thought of viewing their employees as very important asserts. However, the happenings of the recent past have proven that labor force is one of the most important asserts to any given organization.

When the management lays down objectives to be achieved, it is always the employees who are expected to implement the policies that would bring the desired results. It is this work force that would be expected to turn the policies from paper to reality. Therefore, retention of employees is very important. Employees should be retained within the organization to ensure that the firm’s operations are consistent.

High turnover rate of employees is not healthy for the firm’s prosperity (Anderson, 2004). This is because it does not only affect the smooth implementation of policies within the firm, but also leads to increased cost of training new employees. It is even worse that the employees would go away having learnt the strategies of the firm, making the firm vulnerable to its competitors.

The management should therefore device methods of hiring qualified employees and retaining them within the firm. One of the best ways to achieve this is through motivation. It is through motivation that employees will feel attached to the firm and therefore feel committed to the firm.

Armstrong (2002) says that employees are the implementing arm of the organization. While the top executives formulate the policies to be implemented by the organization, most of their tasks always end in the paper. It is upon the employees to make these blueprints a reality.

In his words, employees are the engine of the organization. When well taken care of and put in a proper condition, they would always give the best of the results to the organization. However, when they are neglected and left to ‘rust’ they will always give leap service and the output will be very disappointing.

Motivating employees within the organization is very important. There is a direct link between employee motivation and success of a firm. It is very important that a firm increases the rate of employee motivation because of a number of reasons. In most of the occasions, policies are always developed to last for one whole year. However, these policies are always units in the larger vision of the firm.

A vision may be developed to be achieved in a time span of say thirty year or so. This duration is long and the firm may not take a direct approach towards achieving this vision. It therefore has to split this vision into yearly strategic objectives. When the year begins, the firm would plan with its current work force.

When some of the employees leave along the year because of lack of motivation, it would be a blow to the success of that year’s strategic objectives. The firm would be forced to look for a replacement and train them and make them understand the objectives to be achieved (Barrows & Powers, 2008). This is time consuming and costly venture that would reduce the success of the organization.

Changing the employees on a yearly basis is not good either. This is because in so doing, the vision of the firm will be lost. It will not be possible to realize the vision because every year, the firm would be forced to start with new employees who may not understand the vision, and how it was developed in the first place. This minimizes chances of achieving expected goals within the organization.

Retaining employees through proper motivation is another way of cutting cost. It is always necessary to train new employees to the firm on how to manage various forces that affect the organization. It would cost the management time and money to ensure that new recruits understand the working environment and are able to perform what is expected of them. Retaining employees would eliminate this cost.

It is also easier to form a community that understands itself with a workforce that last for over five years within the firm. Everyone would know exactly what is expected of him or her, and therefore the task of directing them would be much easier. This can only be possible if the employees feel motivated within the firm.

Employee Motivation in the 21 st Century

The core of this research is to determine how best a firm can motivate its employees. Having categorically looked at the importance of motivating employees, it is prudent to determine ways through which a given firm can ensure that its grip on its employees is not shaken.

However, there are some factors that must be considered before determining how best a firm can motivate its employees. It is an acceptable fact that for a firm to motivate employees, it must start by employing some of the best talents that would help it achieve its goals.

As such, it is important to understand how best a firm can recruit new employees. After recruiting the best of the employees, as per the measures that have been put in place, it is also important to appreciate that not all of them would leave up to the expectations (Chuang & Liao, 2010).

As such, it would again be appropriate to determine who to retain because a firm can only retain the best of the workforce in order to be in a position to achieve the maximum. It is upon the determination of the best workforce to retain that a firm can now develop the best ways to motivating such employees.

To ensure that there is a constantly motivated workforce, it would require the management to employ the right strategies that would ensure that it succeeds in this. It may appear as a simple task of making employees happy. However, it goes beyond this.

To motivate employees within the firm, there are a series of strategies that a firm should employ in order to ensure that employees are constantly satisfied. The secret behind this retention lies in ensuring that the employee is satisfied and feels challenged with the present task. This will cause the drive in him to want to come tomorrow and beat the challenge. The recommendations below gives a detailed strategy of how to employ the right individuals to the firm, and how such individuals should be retained, once employed.

This has been the core of this research. The researcher was interested in determining how best to motivate employees within a given firm. According to Griffin and Moorhead (2009), the secret behind the motivation of employees within a firm is through understanding their special needs. Human being by nature wants to be appreciated. This way, they feel that their effort is recognized. They feel motivated, and this way, they are in a position to perform better within the firm. Motivation comes in various forms.

  • Promotion in the place of work. People always feel so much appreciated if they are made to raise a step or two in their workplace. However minimal this rise may be, it would be appreciated by the employees and this would make them work harder in order to be given even higher ranks the firm. They would remain in the firm with the hope that one day they would rise to the highest position in the firm
  • Giving employees financial incentives. Although there are many factors that would encourage an individual to get employment, the ultimate goal is to earn good salaries that would enable him or her be in a position to take good care of the family. Financial incentives are some of the best ways through which a firm can ensure that they make employees feel that their efforts are appreciated. It would motivate them to work harder and will not make them think of leaving the firm.
  • Personal appreciation from the management team would be a high motivation to the employee. It would go a long way in ensuring that the employee is motivated within the firm.
  • Public praises. It is important that when an employee performs exceptionally well, the management should praise such employees publicly. Such public praises will make the employees attached to the firm.
  • High involvement and clear communication. The management should always ensure that employees are involved. They should be made to feel that they are responsible for every task they have to undertake. This way, they would always want to see their departments excel, a fact that may make them stay motivated within the organization.
  • Team building seminars. One of the best way of motivating employees and ensuring that they work as a team is by organizing team building seminars. Though such seminars, employees would form very strong bonds amongst themselves and with the firm. As such, they would not think of leaving the firm for another because the bond would always keep them together.
  • The management should also foster trust. The employees should have trust in employees. They should be made to feel that the management is caring. The management should always ensure that they keep trust by always honoring their promises.
  • Challenging experience. Human being, under a normal circumstance, work best when provided with challenging tasks. They feel that they have something to accomplish tomorrow, because they feel that today’s work is not satisfactory. Such an employee would always be thinking of ways to beat the deadlines other than engaging in unconstructive tasks because of lack of motivation.

Employees are very important to an organization. Success of organization will start by having employees who feel that there is need to succeed. Success can be achieved with motivated employees. Motivated employees will always work as a team and be committed to their tasks in order to foster success to the organization.

There are various ways of ensuring that employees are constantly motivated within the organization. One of the ways through which this can be achieved is through promotion at workplace. The employees feel that they are valued in the firm. Another prominent way of motivating employees is through good remuneration. This makes them feel that the firm cares for their families. There are many other motivational methods that ensure that employees work within the expected limits.

Anderson, T. (2004). Research Methods in Human Resource Management. London: Chattered institute of Personell Management Publishing.

Armstrong, M. (2002). Employee Rewards. Trowbridge: CIPD Publishing.

Barrows, C., & Powers, T. (2008). Introduction to Management in the Hospitality Industry. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.

Chopra, S. (2002). Motivation in Management. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.

Chuang, C., & Liao, H. (2010). Strategic Human Resource in Service Context: Taking Care of Business by Taking Care of Employees and Customers. Personell psychology , 63(1), 153-196.

Griffin, R., & Moorhead, G. (2009). Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations. Mason: Cengage learning.

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98 Employee Motivation Essay Topics

🏆 best essay topics on employee motivation, ✍️ employee motivation essay topics for college, 🎓 most interesting employee motivation research titles, 💡 simple employee motivation essay ideas, ❓ research questions on employee motivation.

  • Employee Motivation and Retention in Microsoft Corporation
  • Microsoft Company: Employee Motivation and Retention
  • Lack of Employee Motivation at the XYZ Company
  • Hilton’s Career Development and Employee Motivation
  • Employee Subsidies, Benefits and Workplace Safety
  • Employee Motivation: Rewards and Incentives Role
  • BHP Company’s Employee Incentive Systems
  • Employee Motivation in Secondary and Tertiary Sectors This paper seeks to analyze the concept of motivation and examine how it is differently applied in secondary and tertiary sectors.
  • Employee Motivation and Minimum Wage This paper critically discusses theories of employee motivation and evaluates the argument for and against the national minimum wage.
  • Employee Benefits in Today’s Work Environment Subsidized meals at the company will be appealing because they provide an immediate cost-saving benefit to the potential employee.
  • Employee Motivation and Pay Plans Management role is characterized to address the objectives to be achieved with the involvement of employees in assessing the motivational factors impact in each situation.
  • Employee Motivation: Rewards, Goals, Empowerment It is important to enhance the motivation of the employees in an organization in order to attain the objectives of the firm.
  • Employee Motivation at the Public Library The paper reports on a management consultancy of an acquisition librarian in a small public library. The key problems were low motivation and slow decision-making.
  • Employee Motivation and Organizational Behavior The paper discusses the influence of employee motivation and relevant appraisal techniques on organizational behavior. It implies using a qualitative design.
  • Employee Motivation and Reward in Entrepreneurial Firm Successfully run organizations need the contribution of their employees. For efficient employee performance, a proper system of employee motivation and rewards should be in place.
  • Bims Inc.: Case Study. Employee Motivation When it reaches a point of employees not giving a damn about losing there job, it is a clearly indication that an effective enhancing-motivation program is necessary.
  • Employee Compensation and Benefits Package This paper develops a comprehensive employee compensation and benefits package for a secretary of the human resource department of an ice cream company in Brooklyn.
  • Employee Empowerment and Its Benefits for Business When leaders successfully empower their employees, organizations encounter better quality and heightened productivity while establishing work-life balance.
  • Employee Motivation and Incentives The issue of employee motivation has been under research for a sufficient period for developing a variety of topic-specific theories and frameworks.
  • Employee Motivation: Monetary and Non-monetary Motivators Keeping motivation in workers is oneself is critical skill in any leader as self-motivation translates to employee motivation, and employee motivation translates to productivity.
  • Key Employee Benefits in the Healthcare Sector Besides remuneration and health cover, firms can offer benefits depending on the sector, availability of resources, the employees’ needs, and the the employer creativity.
  • Creating a Healthy Work Environment: Employee Benefits Brochure The brochure emphasizes the core structural components that secure and regulate the work of nurses in the organization.
  • Employee Benefits Plan and Design for BAE Systems The core of theoretical literature describes different problems and issues related to benefits system and support policies followed by modern organizations.
  • Employee Benefits as a Company Policy Most of the companies strive to gain more profits in financial prospect – and that is right when referring to the extent of the main value for the employer.
  • Employee Motivation: Self-Directed Work Teams Individuals assigned to such teamwork intensively to achieve this common goal and are assumed to have the skill set required to complete their job.
  • Employee Motivation and Involvement Types The buy-in is considered crucial as it also encourages employees to care about the vision and mission of the company and not just the money they are getting paid.
  • Employee Motivation Meeting: Planning and Organizing The meeting “Motivating and Encouraging Newly-Hired Employees” will be held in a conference room. It is aimed at employee retention within the company.
  • Employee Union and Productivity Incentive Plans The need for incentive rewards as a form of promoting quality and productivity has made companies across the global village to adopt different incentive plans.
  • USA Motors Company’s Employee Absenteeism and Incentives The research offers a plan for reducing employee absenteeism, causes for the failure of a paid absence plan, and gives advice to USA Motors.
  • Healthcare Centers Employee Benefits and Compensation Although Iroquois Healthcare, Albany Medical Center, and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital as nursing organizations share vision and missions, the employee benefit differ significantly.
  • ABC Healthcare Organization’s Employee Benefit ABC healthcare organization provides its employees with affordable and competitive benefit and compensation package.
  • Employee Benefits and Compensation Comparison Employee benefits and compensation are both ways of giving rewards and remuneration to members of staff and catering for their wellbeing while still underemployment or when under retirement.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a Way of Understanding Employee Motivation
  • Employee Motivation and Its Role in Modern Management
  • What Is the Best Motivation for Workers – Salary, Job Satisfaction, or Helping Others?
  • Factors Affecting Employee Motivation Towards Employee Performance
  • Leadership Models and Its Connection to Employee Motivation in Google Company
  • Employee Motivation and Organizational Impact of Innovation on Employee Satisfaction
  • The British Airways Strikes Effects on Employee Motivation
  • Fitness Industry and Employee Motivation From a Manager’s Perspective
  • Tough Economic Times: The Impact on Employee Motivation and Morale
  • Employee Motivation: Implementing McClelland’s Three Needs Theory
  • Work Environment and Employee Motivation to Lead: Moderating Effects of Personal Characteristics
  • Comparison Between Public and Private Companies: Whose Employees Are Motivated Better?
  • Individual Approach to Employee Motivation: Is It Worthwhile?
  • Gaining Market Shares Through Employee Motivation
  • Employee Motivation, Recognition, Rewards, and Retention: Kicking It Up a Notch
  • How Employee Motivation and Productivity Get Affected by Gender
  • Employee Motivation: What Needs to Be Done
  • Wage Equity and Employee Motivation in Nonprofit and For-Profit Organizations
  • How to Motivate Team Members to Achieve Their Goals
  • Employee Motivation as a Crucial Aspect in the Job Environment
  • Techniques of Improving Employee Motivation Depending on the Goal of the Company
  • Employee Motivation and Its Impact on Organizational Performance
  • Does Employee Motivation Drive an Organization?
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  • Money: Is It the Best Way to Motivate an Employee?
  • High Compensation Pay Will Influence Employee Motivation
  • Extrinsic and Intrinsic Factors Influencing Employee Motivation
  • How Internal Employee Motivation Can Be Encouraged
  • Priority Distribution Method for Employee Motivation Business
  • Employee Motivation: Create and Maintain Synergistic Teams
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  • Is Training a Form of Employee Motivation?
  • How Does Employee Motivation Affect an Organization?
  • What Is the Biggest Impact on Employee Motivation?
  • How Do Reward Schemes Provoke Employee Motivation?
  • Why Is Employee Motivation So Important for Performance?
  • Does Employee Motivation Impact Organizational Behavior?
  • Who Is Responsible for Employee Motivation?
  • What Are the Drivers of Employee Motivation?
  • Is HR Responsible for Employee Motivation?
  • What Can HR Managers Do to Increase Employee Motivation?
  • How Does Employee Motivation Affect the Workplace?
  • Can Employee Motivation Improve Quality Performance?
  • What Causes Low Employee Motivation in the Workplace?
  • Does the Work Environment Affect Employee Motivation?
  • What Are the Barriers to Employee Motivation?
  • Why Is Employee Motivation Important in a Team Environment?
  • How Does Pay Equity Relate to Employee Motivation?
  • Is There Relationship Between Training and Employee Motivation?
  • How Does Transformational Leadership Influence Employee Motivation?
  • What Is the Relationship Between Morale and Employee Motivation?
  • Is Quality Influenced by Employee Motivation?
  • What Are the Theories of Employee Motivation?
  • How Many Employee Motivation Theories Are There?

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These essay examples and topics on Employee Motivation were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on January 8, 2024 .

The Science of Improving Motivation at Work

motivation at work

The topic of employee motivation can be quite daunting for managers, leaders, and human resources professionals.

Organizations that provide their members with meaningful, engaging work not only contribute to the growth of their bottom line, but also create a sense of vitality and fulfillment that echoes across their organizational cultures and their employees’ personal lives.

“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

In the context of work, an understanding of motivation can be applied to improve employee productivity and satisfaction; help set individual and organizational goals; put stress in perspective; and structure jobs so that they offer optimal levels of challenge, control, variety, and collaboration.

This article demystifies motivation in the workplace and presents recent findings in organizational behavior that have been found to contribute positively to practices of improving motivation and work life.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

This Article Contains:

Motivation in the workplace, motivation theories in organizational behavior, employee motivation strategies, motivation and job performance, leadership and motivation, motivation and good business, a take-home message.

Motivation in the workplace has been traditionally understood in terms of extrinsic rewards in the form of compensation, benefits, perks, awards, or career progression.

With today’s rapidly evolving knowledge economy, motivation requires more than a stick-and-carrot approach. Research shows that innovation and creativity, crucial to generating new ideas and greater productivity, are often stifled when extrinsic rewards are introduced.

Daniel Pink (2011) explains the tricky aspect of external rewards and argues that they are like drugs, where more frequent doses are needed more often. Rewards can often signal that an activity is undesirable.

Interesting and challenging activities are often rewarding in themselves. Rewards tend to focus and narrow attention and work well only if they enhance the ability to do something intrinsically valuable. Extrinsic motivation is best when used to motivate employees to perform routine and repetitive activities but can be detrimental for creative endeavors.

Anticipating rewards can also impair judgment and cause risk-seeking behavior because it activates dopamine. We don’t notice peripheral and long-term solutions when immediate rewards are offered. Studies have shown that people will often choose the low road when chasing after rewards because addictive behavior is short-term focused, and some may opt for a quick win.

Pink (2011) warns that greatness and nearsightedness are incompatible, and seven deadly flaws of rewards are soon to follow. He found that anticipating rewards often has undesirable consequences and tends to:

  • Extinguish intrinsic motivation
  • Decrease performance
  • Encourage cheating
  • Decrease creativity
  • Crowd out good behavior
  • Become addictive
  • Foster short-term thinking

Pink (2011) suggests that we should reward only routine tasks to boost motivation and provide rationale, acknowledge that some activities are boring, and allow people to complete the task their way. When we increase variety and mastery opportunities at work, we increase motivation.

Rewards should be given only after the task is completed, preferably as a surprise, varied in frequency, and alternated between tangible rewards and praise. Providing information and meaningful, specific feedback about the effort (not the person) has also been found to be more effective than material rewards for increasing motivation (Pink, 2011).

hawthorne effect

They have shaped the landscape of our understanding of organizational behavior and our approaches to employee motivation. We discuss a few of the most frequently applied theories of motivation in organizational behavior.

Herzberg’s two-factor theory

Frederick Herzberg’s (1959) two-factor theory of motivation, also known as dual-factor theory or motivation-hygiene theory, was a result of a study that analyzed responses of 200 accountants and engineers who were asked about their positive and negative feelings about their work. Herzberg (1959) concluded that two major factors influence employee motivation and satisfaction with their jobs:

  • Motivator factors, which can motivate employees to work harder and lead to on-the-job satisfaction, including experiences of greater engagement in and enjoyment of the work, feelings of recognition, and a sense of career progression
  • Hygiene factors, which can potentially lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation if they are absent, such as adequate compensation, effective company policies, comprehensive benefits, or good relationships with managers and coworkers

Herzberg (1959) maintained that while motivator and hygiene factors both influence motivation, they appeared to work entirely independently of each other. He found that motivator factors increased employee satisfaction and motivation, but the absence of these factors didn’t necessarily cause dissatisfaction.

Likewise, the presence of hygiene factors didn’t appear to increase satisfaction and motivation, but their absence caused an increase in dissatisfaction. It is debatable whether his theory would hold true today outside of blue-collar industries, particularly among younger generations, who may be looking for meaningful work and growth.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory proposed that employees become motivated along a continuum of needs from basic physiological needs to higher level psychological needs for growth and self-actualization . The hierarchy was originally conceptualized into five levels:

  • Physiological needs that must be met for a person to survive, such as food, water, and shelter
  • Safety needs that include personal and financial security, health, and wellbeing
  • Belonging needs for friendships, relationships, and family
  • Esteem needs that include feelings of confidence in the self and respect from others
  • Self-actualization needs that define the desire to achieve everything we possibly can and realize our full potential

According to the hierarchy of needs, we must be in good health, safe, and secure with meaningful relationships and confidence before we can reach for the realization of our full potential.

For a full discussion of other theories of psychological needs and the importance of need satisfaction, see our article on How to Motivate .

Hawthorne effect

The Hawthorne effect, named after a series of social experiments on the influence of physical conditions on productivity at Western Electric’s factory in Hawthorne, Chicago, in the 1920s and 30s, was first described by Henry Landsberger in 1958 after he noticed some people tended to work harder and perform better when researchers were observing them.

Although the researchers changed many physical conditions throughout the experiments, including lighting, working hours, and breaks, increases in employee productivity were more significant in response to the attention being paid to them, rather than the physical changes themselves.

Today the Hawthorne effect is best understood as a justification for the value of providing employees with specific and meaningful feedback and recognition. It is contradicted by the existence of results-only workplace environments that allow complete autonomy and are focused on performance and deliverables rather than managing employees.

Expectancy theory

Expectancy theory proposes that we are motivated by our expectations of the outcomes as a result of our behavior and make a decision based on the likelihood of being rewarded for that behavior in a way that we perceive as valuable.

For example, an employee may be more likely to work harder if they have been promised a raise than if they only assumed they might get one.

Expectancy Theories

Expectancy theory posits that three elements affect our behavioral choices:

  • Expectancy is the belief that our effort will result in our desired goal and is based on our past experience and influenced by our self-confidence and anticipation of how difficult the goal is to achieve.
  • Instrumentality is the belief that we will receive a reward if we meet performance expectations.
  • Valence is the value we place on the reward.

Expectancy theory tells us that we are most motivated when we believe that we will receive the desired reward if we hit an achievable and valued target, and least motivated if we do not care for the reward or do not believe that our efforts will result in the reward.

Three-dimensional theory of attribution

Attribution theory explains how we attach meaning to our own and other people’s behavior and how the characteristics of these attributions can affect future motivation.

Bernard Weiner’s three-dimensional theory of attribution proposes that the nature of the specific attribution, such as bad luck or not working hard enough, is less important than the characteristics of that attribution as perceived and experienced by the individual. According to Weiner, there are three main characteristics of attributions that can influence how we behave in the future:

Stability is related to pervasiveness and permanence; an example of a stable factor is an employee believing that they failed to meet the expectation because of a lack of support or competence. An unstable factor might be not performing well due to illness or a temporary shortage of resources.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Colin Powell

According to Weiner, stable attributions for successful achievements can be informed by previous positive experiences, such as completing the project on time, and can lead to positive expectations and higher motivation for success in the future. Adverse situations, such as repeated failures to meet the deadline, can lead to stable attributions characterized by a sense of futility and lower expectations in the future.

Locus of control describes a perspective about the event as caused by either an internal or an external factor. For example, if the employee believes it was their fault the project failed, because of an innate quality such as a lack of skills or ability to meet the challenge, they may be less motivated in the future.

If they believe an external factor was to blame, such as an unrealistic deadline or shortage of staff, they may not experience such a drop in motivation.

Controllability defines how controllable or avoidable the situation was. If an employee believes they could have performed better, they may be less motivated to try again in the future than someone who believes that factors outside of their control caused the circumstances surrounding the setback.

Basic Attribution Categories

Theory X and theory Y

Douglas McGregor proposed two theories to describe managerial views on employee motivation: theory X and theory Y. These views of employee motivation have drastically different implications for management.

He divided leaders into those who believe most employees avoid work and dislike responsibility (theory X managers) and those who say that most employees enjoy work and exert effort when they have control in the workplace (theory Y managers).

To motivate theory X employees, the company needs to push and control their staff through enforcing rules and implementing punishments.

Theory Y employees, on the other hand, are perceived as consciously choosing to be involved in their work. They are self-motivated and can exert self-management, and leaders’ responsibility is to create a supportive environment and develop opportunities for employees to take on responsibility and show creativity.

Theory X is heavily informed by what we know about intrinsic motivation and the role that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs plays in effective employee motivation.

Theory X & Y

Taking theory X and theory Y as a starting point, theory Z was developed by Dr. William Ouchi. The theory combines American and Japanese management philosophies and focuses on long-term job security, consensual decision making, slow evaluation and promotion procedures, and individual responsibility within a group context.

Its noble goals include increasing employee loyalty to the company by providing a job for life, focusing on the employee’s wellbeing, and encouraging group work and social interaction to motivate employees in the workplace.

Features of Theory Z

There are several implications of these numerous theories on ways to motivate employees. They vary with whatever perspectives leadership ascribes to motivation and how that is cascaded down and incorporated into practices, policies, and culture.

The effectiveness of these approaches is further determined by whether individual preferences for motivation are considered. Nevertheless, various motivational theories can guide our focus on aspects of organizational behavior that may require intervening.

Herzberg’s two-factor theory , for example, implies that for the happiest and most productive workforce, companies need to work on improving both motivator and hygiene factors.

The theory suggests that to help motivate employees, the organization must ensure that everyone feels appreciated and supported, is given plenty of specific and meaningful feedback, and has an understanding of and confidence in how they can grow and progress professionally.

To prevent job dissatisfaction, companies must make sure to address hygiene factors by offering employees the best possible working conditions, fair pay, and supportive relationships.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs , on the other hand, can be used to transform a business where managers struggle with the abstract concept of self-actualization and tend to focus too much on lower level needs. Chip Conley, the founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and head of hospitality at Airbnb, found one way to address this dilemma by helping his employees understand the meaning of their roles during a staff retreat.

In one exercise, he asked groups of housekeepers to describe themselves and their job responsibilities by giving their group a name that reflects the nature and the purpose of what they were doing. They came up with names such as “The Serenity Sisters,” “The Clutter Busters,” and “The Peace of Mind Police.”

These designations provided a meaningful rationale and gave them a sense that they were doing more than just cleaning, instead “creating a space for a traveler who was far away from home to feel safe and protected” (Pattison, 2010). By showing them the value of their roles, Conley enabled his employees to feel respected and motivated to work harder.

The Hawthorne effect studies and Weiner’s three-dimensional theory of attribution have implications for providing and soliciting regular feedback and praise. Recognizing employees’ efforts and providing specific and constructive feedback in the areas where they can improve can help prevent them from attributing their failures to an innate lack of skills.

Praising employees for improvement or using the correct methodology, even if the ultimate results were not achieved, can encourage them to reframe setbacks as learning opportunities. This can foster an environment of psychological safety that can further contribute to the view that success is controllable by using different strategies and setting achievable goals .

Theories X, Y, and Z show that one of the most impactful ways to build a thriving organization is to craft organizational practices that build autonomy, competence, and belonging. These practices include providing decision-making discretion, sharing information broadly, minimizing incidents of incivility, and offering performance feedback.

Being told what to do is not an effective way to negotiate. Having a sense of autonomy at work fuels vitality and growth and creates environments where employees are more likely to thrive when empowered to make decisions that affect their work.

Feedback satisfies the psychological need for competence. When others value our work, we tend to appreciate it more and work harder. Particularly two-way, open, frequent, and guided feedback creates opportunities for learning.

Frequent and specific feedback helps people know where they stand in terms of their skills, competencies, and performance, and builds feelings of competence and thriving. Immediate, specific, and public praise focusing on effort and behavior and not traits is most effective. Positive feedback energizes employees to seek their full potential.

Lack of appreciation is psychologically exhausting, and studies show that recognition improves health because people experience less stress. In addition to being acknowledged by their manager, peer-to-peer recognition was shown to have a positive impact on the employee experience (Anderson, 2018). Rewarding the team around the person who did well and giving more responsibility to top performers rather than time off also had a positive impact.

Stop trying to motivate your employees – Kerry Goyette

Other approaches to motivation at work include those that focus on meaning and those that stress the importance of creating positive work environments.

Meaningful work is increasingly considered to be a cornerstone of motivation. In some cases, burnout is not caused by too much work, but by too little meaning. For many years, researchers have recognized the motivating potential of task significance and doing work that affects the wellbeing of others.

All too often, employees do work that makes a difference but never have the chance to see or to meet the people affected. Research by Adam Grant (2013) speaks to the power of long-term goals that benefit others and shows how the use of meaning to motivate those who are not likely to climb the ladder can make the job meaningful by broadening perspectives.

Creating an upbeat, positive work environment can also play an essential role in increasing employee motivation and can be accomplished through the following:

  • Encouraging teamwork and sharing ideas
  • Providing tools and knowledge to perform well
  • Eliminating conflict as it arises
  • Giving employees the freedom to work independently when appropriate
  • Helping employees establish professional goals and objectives and aligning these goals with the individual’s self-esteem
  • Making the cause and effect relationship clear by establishing a goal and its reward
  • Offering encouragement when workers hit notable milestones
  • Celebrating employee achievements and team accomplishments while avoiding comparing one worker’s achievements to those of others
  • Offering the incentive of a profit-sharing program and collective goal setting and teamwork
  • Soliciting employee input through regular surveys of employee satisfaction
  • Providing professional enrichment through providing tuition reimbursement and encouraging employees to pursue additional education and participate in industry organizations, skills workshops, and seminars
  • Motivating through curiosity and creating an environment that stimulates employee interest to learn more
  • Using cooperation and competition as a form of motivation based on individual preferences

Sometimes, inexperienced leaders will assume that the same factors that motivate one employee, or the leaders themselves, will motivate others too. Some will make the mistake of introducing de-motivating factors into the workplace, such as punishment for mistakes or frequent criticism, but negative reinforcement rarely works and often backfires.

essay about motivation employees

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There are several positive psychology interventions that can be used in the workplace to improve important outcomes, such as reduced job stress and increased motivation, work engagement, and job performance. Numerous empirical studies have been conducted in recent years to verify the effects of these interventions.

Psychological capital interventions

Psychological capital interventions are associated with a variety of work outcomes that include improved job performance, engagement, and organizational citizenship behaviors (Avey, 2014; Luthans & Youssef-Morgan 2017). Psychological capital refers to a psychological state that is malleable and open to development and consists of four major components:

  • Self-efficacy and confidence in our ability to succeed at challenging work tasks
  • Optimism and positive attributions about the future of our career or company
  • Hope and redirecting paths to work goals in the face of obstacles
  • Resilience in the workplace and bouncing back from adverse situations (Luthans & Youssef-Morgan, 2017)

Job crafting interventions

Job crafting interventions – where employees design and have control over the characteristics of their work to create an optimal fit between work demands and their personal strengths – can lead to improved performance and greater work engagement (Bakker, Tims, & Derks, 2012; van Wingerden, Bakker, & Derks, 2016).

The concept of job crafting is rooted in the jobs demands–resources theory and suggests that employee motivation, engagement, and performance can be influenced by practices such as (Bakker et al., 2012):

  • Attempts to alter social job resources, such as feedback and coaching
  • Structural job resources, such as opportunities to develop at work
  • Challenging job demands, such as reducing workload and creating new projects

Job crafting is a self-initiated, proactive process by which employees change elements of their jobs to optimize the fit between their job demands and personal needs, abilities, and strengths (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001).

leadership and motivation

Today’s motivation research shows that participation is likely to lead to several positive behaviors as long as managers encourage greater engagement, motivation, and productivity while recognizing the importance of rest and work recovery.

One key factor for increasing work engagement is psychological safety (Kahn, 1990). Psychological safety allows an employee or team member to engage in interpersonal risk taking and refers to being able to bring our authentic self to work without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career (Edmondson, 1999).

When employees perceive psychological safety, they are less likely to be distracted by negative emotions such as fear, which stems from worrying about controlling perceptions of managers and colleagues.

Dealing with fear also requires intense emotional regulation (Barsade, Brief, & Spataro, 2003), which takes away from the ability to fully immerse ourselves in our work tasks. The presence of psychological safety in the workplace decreases such distractions and allows employees to expend their energy toward being absorbed and attentive to work tasks.

Effective structural features, such as coaching leadership and context support, are some ways managers can initiate psychological safety in the workplace (Hackman, 1987). Leaders’ behavior can significantly influence how employees behave and lead to greater trust (Tyler & Lind, 1992).

Supportive, coaching-oriented, and non-defensive responses to employee concerns and questions can lead to heightened feelings of safety and ensure the presence of vital psychological capital.

Another essential factor for increasing work engagement and motivation is the balance between employees’ job demands and resources.

Job demands can stem from time pressures, physical demands, high priority, and shift work and are not necessarily detrimental. High job demands and high resources can both increase engagement, but it is important that employees perceive that they are in balance, with sufficient resources to deal with their work demands (Crawford, LePine, & Rich, 2010).

Challenging demands can be very motivating, energizing employees to achieve their goals and stimulating their personal growth. Still, they also require that employees be more attentive and absorbed and direct more energy toward their work (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014).

Unfortunately, when employees perceive that they do not have enough control to tackle these challenging demands, the same high demands will be experienced as very depleting (Karasek, 1979).

This sense of perceived control can be increased with sufficient resources like managerial and peer support and, like the effects of psychological safety, can ensure that employees are not hindered by distraction that can limit their attention, absorption, and energy.

The job demands–resources occupational stress model suggests that job demands that force employees to be attentive and absorbed can be depleting if not coupled with adequate resources, and shows how sufficient resources allow employees to sustain a positive level of engagement that does not eventually lead to discouragement or burnout (Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001).

And last but not least, another set of factors that are critical for increasing work engagement involves core self-evaluations and self-concept (Judge & Bono, 2001). Efficacy, self-esteem, locus of control, identity, and perceived social impact may be critical drivers of an individual’s psychological availability, as evident in the attention, absorption, and energy directed toward their work.

Self-esteem and efficacy are enhanced by increasing employees’ general confidence in their abilities, which in turn assists in making them feel secure about themselves and, therefore, more motivated and engaged in their work (Crawford et al., 2010).

Social impact, in particular, has become increasingly important in the growing tendency for employees to seek out meaningful work. One such example is the MBA Oath created by 25 graduating Harvard business students pledging to lead professional careers marked with integrity and ethics:

The MBA oath

“As a business leader, I recognize my role in society.

My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone.

My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow. Therefore, I promise that:

  • I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.
  • I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.
  • I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.
  • I will protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.
  • I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy planet.
  • I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
  • I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust, and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers and to society for my actions and for upholding these standards. This oath, I make freely, and upon my honor.”

Job crafting is the process of personalizing work to better align with one’s strengths, values, and interests (Tims & Bakker, 2010).

Any job, at any level can be ‘crafted,’ and a well-crafted job offers more autonomy, deeper engagement and improved overall wellbeing.

There are three types of job crafting:

  • Task crafting involves adding or removing tasks, spending more or less time on certain tasks, or redesigning tasks so that they better align with your core strengths (Berg et al., 2013).
  • Relational crafting includes building, reframing, and adapting relationships to foster meaningfulness (Berg et al., 2013).
  • Cognitive crafting defines how we think about our jobs, including how we perceive tasks and the meaning behind them.

If you would like to guide others through their own unique job crafting journey, our set of Job Crafting Manuals (PDF) offer a ready-made 7-session coaching trajectory.

essay about motivation employees

Prosocial motivation is an important driver behind many individual and collective accomplishments at work.

It is a strong predictor of persistence, performance, and productivity when accompanied by intrinsic motivation. Prosocial motivation was also indicative of more affiliative citizenship behaviors when it was accompanied by motivation toward impression management motivation and was a stronger predictor of job performance when managers were perceived as trustworthy (Ciulla, 2000).

On a day-to-day basis most jobs can’t fill the tall order of making the world better, but particular incidents at work have meaning because you make a valuable contribution or you are able to genuinely help someone in need.

J. B. Ciulla

Prosocial motivation was shown to enhance the creativity of intrinsically motivated employees, the performance of employees with high core self-evaluations, and the performance evaluations of proactive employees. The psychological mechanisms that enable this are the importance placed on task significance, encouraging perspective taking, and fostering social emotions of anticipated guilt and gratitude (Ciulla, 2000).

Some argue that organizations whose products and services contribute to positive human growth are examples of what constitutes good business (Csíkszentmihályi, 2004). Businesses with a soul are those enterprises where employees experience deep engagement and develop greater complexity.

In these unique environments, employees are provided opportunities to do what they do best. In return, their organizations reap the benefits of higher productivity and lower turnover, as well as greater profit, customer satisfaction, and workplace safety. Most importantly, however, the level of engagement, involvement, or degree to which employees are positively stretched contributes to the experience of wellbeing at work (Csíkszentmihályi, 2004).

essay about motivation employees

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Daniel Pink (2011) argues that when it comes to motivation, management is the problem, not the solution, as it represents antiquated notions of what motivates people. He claims that even the most sophisticated forms of empowering employees and providing flexibility are no more than civilized forms of control.

He gives an example of companies that fall under the umbrella of what is known as results-only work environments (ROWEs), which allow all their employees to work whenever and wherever they want as long their work gets done.

Valuing results rather than face time can change the cultural definition of a successful worker by challenging the notion that long hours and constant availability signal commitment (Kelly, Moen, & Tranby, 2011).

Studies show that ROWEs can increase employees’ control over their work schedule; improve work–life fit; positively affect employees’ sleep duration, energy levels, self-reported health, and exercise; and decrease tobacco and alcohol use (Moen, Kelly, & Lam, 2013; Moen, Kelly, Tranby, & Huang, 2011).

Perhaps this type of solution sounds overly ambitious, and many traditional working environments are not ready for such drastic changes. Nevertheless, it is hard to ignore the quickly amassing evidence that work environments that offer autonomy, opportunities for growth, and pursuit of meaning are good for our health, our souls, and our society.

Leave us your thoughts on this topic.

Related reading: Motivation in Education: What It Takes to Motivate Our Kids

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  • Bakker, A. B., Tims, M., & Derks, D. (2012). Proactive personality and job performance: The role of job crafting and work engagement.  Human Relations ,  65 (10), 1359–1378
  • Barsade, S. G., Brief, A. P., & Spataro, S. E. (2003). The affective revolution in organizational behavior: The emergence of a paradigm. In J. Greenberg (Ed.), Organizational behavior: The state of the science (pp. 3–52). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Berg, J. M., Dutton, J. E., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2013). Job crafting and meaningful work. In B. J. Dik, Z. S. Byrne, & M. F. Steger (Eds.), Purpose and meaning in the workplace (pp. 81-104) . American Psychological Association.
  • Ciulla, J. B. (2000).  The working life: The promise and betrayal of modern work.  Three Rivers Press.
  • Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., & Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: A theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology , 95 (5), 834–848.
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  • Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Nachreiner, F., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). The job demands–resources model of burnout.  Journal of Applied Psychology ,  863) , 499–512.
  • Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams.  Administrative Science Quarterly ,  44 (2), 350–383.
  • Grant, A. M. (2013). Give and take: A revolutionary approach to success. Penguin.
  • Hackman, J. R. (1987). The design of work teams. In J. Lorsch (Ed.),  Handbook of organizational behavior  (pp. 315–342). Prentice-Hall.
  • Herzberg, F. (1959).  The motivation to work.  Wiley.
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  • Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work.  Academy of Management Journal , 33 (4), 692–724.
  • Karasek, R. A., Jr. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign.  Administrative Science Quarterly, 24 (2), 285–308.
  • Kelly, E. L., Moen, P., & Tranby, E. (2011). Changing workplaces to reduce work-family conflict: Schedule control in a white-collar organization.  American Sociological Review ,  76 (2), 265–290.
  • Landsberger, H. A. (1958). Hawthorne revisited: Management and the worker, its critics, and developments in human relations in industry. Cornell University.
  • Luthans, F., & Youssef-Morgan, C. M. (2017). Psychological capital: An evidence-based positive approach. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4 , 339-366.
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  • Pattison, K. (2010, August 26). Chip Conley took the Maslow pyramid, made it an employee pyramid and saved his company. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/1685009/chip-conley-took-maslow-pyramid-made-it-employee-pyramid-and-saved-his-company
  • Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Penguin.
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Good and helpful study thank you. It will help achieving goals for my clients. Thank you for this information

Olivera novitović, PhD

A lot of data is really given. Validation is correct. The next step is the exchange of knowledge in order to create an optimal model of motivation.

David

A good article, thank you for sharing. The views and work by the likes of Daniel Pink, Dan Ariely, Barry Schwartz etc have really got me questioning and reflecting on my own views on workplace motivation. There are far too many organisations and leaders who continue to rely on hedonic principles for motivation (until recently, myself included!!). An excellent book which shares these modern views is ‘Primed to Perform’ by Doshi and McGregor (2015). Based on the earlier work of Deci and Ryan’s self determination theory the book explores the principle of ‘why people work, determines how well they work’. A easy to read and enjoyable book that offers a very practical way of applying in the workplace.

Annelé Venter

Thanks for mentioning that. Sounds like a good read.

All the best, Annelé

Ida H Rivera

Motivation – a piece of art every manager should obtain and remember by heart and continue to embrace.

Sanjay Patil

Exceptionally good write-up on the subject applicable for personal and professional betterment. Simplified theorem appeals to think and learn at least one thing that means an inspiration to the reader. I appreciate your efforts through this contributive work.

Nelson Guevara

Excelente artículo sobre motivación. Me inspira. Gracias

Sibora

Very helpful for everyone studying motivation right now! It’s brilliant the way it’s witten and also brought to the reader. Thank you.

Robyn Walshe

Such a brilliant piece! A super coverage of existing theories clearly written. It serves as an excellent overview (or reminder for those of us who once knew the older stuff by heart!) Thank you!

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If you are writing an essay on motivating employees for your psychology class, you came to the right place. The following essay examines how to motivate them across different organizational contexts. Various third party scholars are cited using academic and peer reviewed journals. This sample is provided free of charge by Ultius , the trusted provider of content solutions for consumers around the world.

Motivating Employees: Organizational Justice, Workforce Unity and Employee Development

In any workplace, employees are no doubt the fundamental backbone that holds any workplace, business, or corporation together. Employees perform the essential tasks that make sure that the company’s long term vision and goals are successfully and efficiently implemented. While no business will run successfully without proper management, it is important that those employed enjoy coming to work and maintain a positive attitude while in the work place, while being productive and completing tasks with efficiency. Keeping this in mind, it is vital to ensure that employees are satisfied with the position that they hold, and most importantly, strive for more.

Motivation is what gives people a reason to perform or behave in a certain way with the desire or willingness to gain something. It is an absolute necessity to keep employees motivated in the workplace and encourage them to perform above expectations . In addressing what elements of employment result in both motivation and efficiency, we have to look at concepts and frameworks that are both universal across different cultural contexts and applicable to a wide variety of industries. Implementing strategies that utilize organizational justice, workforce unity and employee development were all highly influential ways to motivate workers in diverse settings.

Dressler (1999) - Communication and Company Culture

In Gary Dressler’s 1999 article, How to Earn Your Employees’ Commitment, the author stressed the main themes of communication, company values, community, organizational justice and employee development. Dressler’s main premise reflects that “while whole commitment and motivation are not required, they contribute to an effective workforce” through higher attendance and longer job tenure (Dressler, 1999, p. 58). Motivating employees goes hand in hand with ensuring their full commitment to both management and their personal tasks. The first critical aspect is committing to values that address the employees’ needs. This means placing important company values in writing , having a fair management team and following through with promises. Secondly, it is vital to have a clear and widely communicated mission.

It is thus important to “ create a shared mission and an ideology that lays out a basic way of thinking and doing things; create institutional charisma by linking their missions and values to a higher calling and promoting the commitment of employees to the mission” (Dressler, p. 59). Next, creating a sense of community through cross-utilization, teamwork and sharing is vital in having people truly invest their commitment to any organization. Finally, committing to employee success, empowering them and providing developmental exercises are critical in endorsing strong employee development (Dressler, p. 65). Together, these factors contribute to the overall motivation of employees within any workforce. 

In utilizing these outlined practices, employees perceive a much higher level of interest in their jobs. In communicating a clear message to employees, the job is no longer just a means towards the end of a paycheck; instead, the end result is a higher calling (Dressler, p. 29). This psychological approach not only stresses the importance of working within the organization, but also encourages them to buy into the ideologies that the company supports. Once the job becomes a higher calling based on company tradition, the employee has much more personal interest invested into its overall success and efficiency. Organizational justice was also critical because it emphasized the company’s initiative in not only words, but through action. Dressler remarked that “considerable evidence supports a link between procedural justice associated with organization policies and the affective commitment of employees” (Dressler, p. 60). This means that as employees saw fairness being implemented company-wide for all employees, they were more likely to uphold moral and ethical standards of conduct and job performance.

Finally, the emphasis on group interaction was also very important. Companies tended to have more committed and motivated employees if there was habitual group contact through activities regulated by the company (Dressler, p.  61). This means that as employees interacted with one another more in regular group contact, they developed stronger relationships with one another. Consequently, they were more committed. Therefore, the major elements of company values, organizational justice and group interaction were critical in making employees more committed and motivated to the whole organization. This was only possible if the company took a proactive role in regulating and ensuring that policies were upheld in both written and actionable contexts.

Spicer (1985) - The Public Choice Approach

Michael Spicer, in A Public Choice Approach to Motivating People in Bureaucratic Organizations, argued that cooperation and the use of small, consistent workgroups (like ones used in SCRUM ) was the key to a successful motivational strategy. Conditional cooperation, according to Public Choice Theory, suggests that managers are able to achieve cooperation and motivation from employees if there is a mutual understanding of benefits for both parties where reward systems are present (Spicer, 1985, p. 521).  This can be accomplished by assigning employees to smaller groups. As Spicer remarked, “Successful cooperation among a group of subordinates leads to higher levels of effort when rewards are based on group effort” (Spicer, p. 522). Since cooperation is easily managed in smaller groups through direct interaction, it is an exceptional managerial practice in motivating employees.

Moreover, ‘jointness’ of production is also important because it makes small groups of employees interdependent on one another. This is effective with a group reward system because “rewards based on group effort would seem more likely to raise effort levels than rewards based on relative individual effort” (Spicer, p. 521). Thus, a smaller group size where employees rely on one another raises motivation to perform well and reap the rewards as opposed to individual rewards. Finally, the extent to which group interaction is with the same people is also influential in determining employee motivation. Individuals that work together regularly have a higher incentive to cooperate because they know that future interaction will happen. This engages employees to build stronger lasting relationships with one another and further motivates them.  

The key elements of motivating employees based on this article are interdependent interaction within groups and mutual benefits of cooperation. When reward systems are used in group settings, there is more personal accountability for each individual person to contribute to the unit. While an individual’s efforts can be diluted within large groups, smaller groups offer much more transparency into who is contributing and to what extent. Consequently, employees are much more motivated to reap the rewards of group benefits by interacting with each other in cooperation. This conditional cooperation must exist among managers and subordinates or simply among subordinates (Spicer, p. 521). In addition to cooperation, interdependent interaction among small groups is also a highly influential aspect. Within small groups, detecting, isolating and overcoming uncooperative and problematic behavior is much easier (Spicer, p. 522). As employees rely on each other and work together, they are more motivated to work efficiently and in unison. Couple this with strong leaders that exhibit good leadership , and the effectiveness can be unimaginable. Consequently, by implementing small groups and joint work efforts, employees are not merely driven by a monetary reward system; instead, future civil and efficient interaction becomes a meaningful motivating factor that accomplishes company and individual goals.

D’Iribarne (2002) - The Cross-Cultural Context

Finally, Philippe d’Iribarne’s (2002) article, Motivating Workers in Emerging Countries: Universal Tools and Local Adaptations, offered a cross cultural context in identifying the value of both local and universal strategies of employee motivation. This comprehensive study of both manager and subordinate workers in Morocco and Mexico found that in order to achieve Total Quality Management (TQM) as well as a motivated workforce, “one must treat them well, respect them, give them responsibility, listen to and inform them, justly compensate their efforts and promote the feeling that they belong to a remarkable team” (d’Iribarne, 2002, p. 254). Even when multinational corporations conduct business in different cultural settings, universal strategies like team unity and mutual respect were important. For instance, in his study the author remarked that “everyone gave their support when a leader provided a model that the local community could embrace” (d’Iribarne, p. 248).

Treating all employees with respect and diminishing the role of authority and hierarchy was extremely important. Employees reported more satisfaction and motivation when managers set good examples, motivated others and celebrated high performance. Moreover, catering to local cultural traditions also held probative value in motivating employees. In complying with family-centric values of Mexico, managers were successful in winning employee approval when local cultural values were exerted: “speaking informally, using first names, living together, an open door policy, and allowing each person to raise concerns no matter what they hierarchical rank” (d’Iribarne, p. 251). As managers utilized motivational strategies that catered to local customs and universal principles, employees reported higher levels of motivation, satisfaction and overall job performance.

On a broader scope, these findings illuminate the themes of equality, being able to lead by example and the endorsement of employment being a higher calling rather than just an occupation for a given wage. By default, giving other people mutual respect is a very basic principle that goes very far in the business world. As employees are treated fairly and they see this being implemented across the whole organization, they are highly motivated to participate in a culture of respect and reciprocity. This is especially effective when every level of authority follows through via leading by example. It represented a much broader “shift to relationships based on mutual trust among, across and within hierarchical levels” (d’Iribarne, p. 252). Furthermore, using company values to create a sense of identity within the organization was also effective. Again, the relationship between the employee and employer had a much more symbolic purpose than merely working for pay. Consequently, being part of a broader identity and being treated like a unit was an especially useful cultural adaptation that contributed to a highly motivated and efficient workforce.

Concluding Remarks

Implementing strategies that utilize organizational justice, workforce unity and employee development were all highly influential strategies to motivate workers. Implementing fair systems that endorsed company values of justice were highly effective because it epitomized the company’s enthusiasm and validity of a culture of respect and equality. This successfully nullified any negative aspects of hierarchy such as authority and preferential treatment towards specific individuals and not others. Employees were highly motivated to see that managers respected subordinates and supported cooperative interaction. Workforce unity was especially important because it encouraged employees to work together to accomplish similar goals, especially among women ( who are generally subject to gender discrimination ).

Despite being especially effective in smaller groups, workforce unity on a symbolic level was effective in motivating employees because the job in itself became a much higher calling that individuals were enthusiastic to be a part of and participate accordingly. Strategies like sharing tasks, regulating communication and upholding strong company values all worked coherently to motivate employees in a broader scope. Finally, employee development through fair and mutually beneficial relationships was vital. In giving employees opportunities to excel, rewarding their efforts and helping them along the way, companies can further motivate their workforce to go above and beyond their expectations. Together, these common strategies motivate the workforce across different profession types, cultural contexts and group settings. 

Dressler, G. (1999). How to Earn Your Employees' Commitment. The Academy of Management Executives, 13(2), 58-67. Retrieved May 3, 2011, from www.jstor.org. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4165540>

Spicer, M. (1985). A Public Choice Approach to Motivating People in Bureaucratic Organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 10(3), 518-526. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from www.jstor.org. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/258133>

d'Iribarne, P. (2002). Motivating Workers in Emerging Countries: Universal Tools and Local Adaptations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(3), 243-256. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4093802>

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--> Employee Motivation Essay

Employee motivation can be defined as the level of commitment, creativity, and energy that the workers of a given organization bring to their occupations. An organization’s management team must be concerned into motivating her employees irrespective of whether the organization’s economy is deteriorating or growing. Sometimes it becomes a big problem for small business to motivate employees. The owner of the small business has spent a number of years building his own organization and sometimes finds it hard to assign meaningful duties to others. Entrepreneurs should be very mindful of the unexpected difficulties which come about as a result of low employee motivation on their small business. They should bear in mind that without motivating employees their organizations will collapse completely even if they have invested a lot of money in building these organization. These problems which may result due to lowly motivated employees include disinterest, complacency, and sometimes widespread discouragement. Different types of employee motivation strategies are to be discussed into detail (Bruce, 2006).

It is possible that small business and organizations can give a favorable environment which allows for employee motivation. For example, an organization which allows her employees to observe the outcomes of their hard work directly and where there is a visible and swift feedback. A smoothly motivated and working work force gives the owner of the organization free time which he needs for daily chores to think about the organization’s long-term development. Emotional and tangible rewards can consequently bring about retention of suitable employees. Most individuals prosper in the environments of creative work with the intention of trying to make a positive difference. Usually the work outcome itself will bring about a feeling of achievement only if well-integrated motives and realization programs can underscore this great and positive consequence (Griffin, 2007).    

There are many approaches that are used to ensure motivated employees one of which being the add-ins usually accompanying an individual’s job and these have been found to be the primary factors towards improving performance in many organizations. The continuous mixes of employee’s welfares, for example life insurance, healthcare, profit sharing, exercise facilities, employee stock ownership plans, availability of childcare, plans for meal being subsidized, and employees allowed to use the organization’s cars as the means to commute to and from workplace – have been employed by organizations in their attempts to ensure that the employees are happy, since happy employees are believed to be motivated (Bruce, 2006).

Most of the modern theorists argue that employees are not so much motivated due to material rewards but are motivated by the design of the specific jobs they do. It has been seen that highly simplified and segmented jobs bring about diminished morale and output of employees. Employee high turnover and absenteeism constitute other negative consequences due to low motivation of employees which become very costly for an organization. Because of the costs that organizations incur, initiatives of job enlargement began pop up in major organizations. It is true that the terminology concerning employee motivation changes but the tenets of the motivation remain constant. The buzzwords today consist of quality circles, empowerment, and teamwork. Empowerment encourages autonomy and enables an employee to be the owner of ideas and achievements, whether acting in teams or alone. Quality circles as well as teamwork in the work environments enable the employees to reinforce the significance of the work achieved by members and at the same time receive feedback concerning the efficaciousness of the particular job (Griffin, 2007).

Generally, most of the small businesses or organizations experience shortage of resources such that they might not be able to enact formal motivation programs for employees. However, irrespective of this shortage of resources, managers can be able to achieve the same fundamental principles and ensure that employees are equally motivated. So that the employees are encouraged to realize that their jobs are important and that their participation is of value to the organization, the owners for the small business are supposes to communicate the purpose and aim of the organization to employees. The type of communication used in this case should comprise form of words and actions. It is advisable for the owner of a small business to set high standards of performance for employees and continue being their support incase the goals cannot attained. It is also of great importance to allow employees enough flexibility and autonomy in performing their specific tasks. With small business, creativity should be encouraged provided honest mistakes are rectified but not punished. The vision of the employees to a given organization should be incorporated with the vision of the small business owner as this will encourage employees contribute to the goals of the small business and at the same time assist in the prevention of stagnancy in its purpose and direction (Bruce, 2006). 

Employers use varied methods of motivating their employees. Some strategies for motivation seem to be preferred over others within different organization in the world business environment. The best efforts for employee motivation will centre on what is deemed to be significant by the employees. There is a possibility that within a particular department of an organization, different employees will require different motivators. Today, most of the organizations have realized that flexibility in a job design as well as reward systems has brought about increased longevity of employees with the organization, increased employee morale, and improved productivity (Bruce, 2006).

Monetary incentive is one of the strategies used in encouraging employees to better work within an organization. For the varied and best motivators, money incentive still takes a good place within the mix of motivators. Employees are motivated by sharing a company’s profits, and this encourages employees to produce high quality product, ameliorate the production process in the company, and enable the employees to carry out a quality service. It has been seen that, those factors which benefit the, directly benefit employees. Employees are given the monetary incentives to encourage the generation of process-improving or cost-saving ideas, reduce and do away with absenteeism, and to promote productivity. It is true that money is very effective if it is tied directly to an employee’s achievements or ideas. However, the money incentive should be coupled with other motivators which are non-monetary since its effects of motivation last for a short time. Monetary incentives have been proven counterproductive incase they are not availed to each and every member of the particular organization (Church & Heumann, 1992).  

Studies have shown that, the most efficacious motivators of employees are the non-monetary motivators. The monetary motivators are seen insufficient since the expectations are outweighing the results and as well the difference in the distribution of the incentives to the employees can bring about disunity within the employees. The best non-monetary incentives that have been proved promote team spirit and comprise responsibility, advancement, and recognition. Those managers, who realize employees’ small wins, encourage participatory environment, and handle employees with respect and fairness, always have their employees highly motivated to perform tasks effectively and efficiently. Rewards such as time off from the job, self-respect, increased personal fulfillment, and letters of recommendation have been found to be the most efficacious rewards (Griffin, 2007).

Allowing employees acquire more knowledge by further studies regarding their current positions, motivates them towards performing effectively and efficiently. If employees are provided with the opportunities and tools to achieve more, most of them will indubitably accept the challenge. Organizations motivate employees to accomplish more by devoting a continual improvement of employee skills. Employee programs such as licensing and accreditation are becoming very popular and very effective in encouraging the growth in employee motivation and knowledge. It has also been found that, the programs enable employees to develop positive attitudes toward the organization and its clients, and at the same time strengthens employees’ self-confidence. All the knowledge and skills gained can now be applied to the specific task that is to be accomplished and therefore it’s of great significance to acquire more knowledge concerning the position one is currently occupying in an organization (Bruce, 2006).

Empowerment is another motivation strategy that in employed by organizations to bring about encouraged employees. Empowerment of employees can be brought about by giving employees a decision-making authority and responsibility to take control over the tasks in a particular organization and get equipped to carry out the tasks effectively. This results into diminished feelings of frustration that come about due to one being held accountable for what he or she does not have the suitable tools to carry out. In this way, energy gets directed toward improved task achievement.

Encouragement of innovation and creativity also motivates employees to perform well in their tasks. In many companies, it has been found that employees with creative and innovative ideas do not show them to the management fearing that they will be ridiculed or ignored. Incase the power to create within an organization is downed from the top until the line personnel, those employees who understand the job, service, or product best, are allowed the opportunity to employ their ideas to ameliorate it. This power to create gives a lot of encouragement to the employees, and it benefits the organization because of more flexible personnel by using the experience and knowledge of its employees. This brings about increased exchange of information and ideas among the organizations’ departments and employees. The improvements can enable the organization to realize and respond faster to potential market changes and therefore it will be at a better position in the marketplace (Griffin, 2007).  

It is very important for employers to ensure quality lives of their employees if they are aiming at increased and quality production in their firms. This can be observed from the perspective of the number of hours the employees are going to spend in a daily basis to carry out the specific tasks effectively. For example in America the number of hours spent at work is tending to increase and most of the families have both parents working these long hours. In this case, most workers get discouraged since they cannot satisfy the needs of their lives outside the workplace. Indubitably, the productivity and morale of employees considerably reduce hence reducing the organization’s daily profits. Most companies have instituted alternative work arrangements and therefore have motivated their employees whose productivity has greatly improved.

Griffin (2007) defines alternative work arrangements as the employment arrangements particularly arranged by a given employment intermediary especially, at the place of work where time, quantity of work, and place are potentially not predictable. These arrangements enable the employees have a work schedule that is more variable as compared to the 8-hour workday that is considered to be standard. Men and women can be allowed to balance their work as well as their personal commitments for example community, family, professional development, education, religion, and other wide-ranging interests.

Employees benefit from the alternative work arrangements as they experience flexible work schedules, telecommuting, compressed work weeks, and job sharing. Employees are allowed to freely select the suitable hours they will work; they experience reduced travelling costs as one can choose the appropriate time of reporting to work as well as when to get out of work place, for instance the time when there is no traffic jam, and this is important for employees who are entrepreneurs since they can be able to monitor their own businesses usually when they condense the working hours at the work place. Telecommuting is another benefit to employers as they can carry some of the duties from their places of residence by using communication equipment such as computers and telephones. This reduces the travelling costs and as well allows the employees to monitor their own businesses back at home.  Employees are allowed more time for their family responsibilities and they are also given opportunities that they need for their own professional development. Employees also experience some problems due to alternative work arrangements such as feeling of alienation and isolation from co-workers; the supervisor can easily abuse the workers; there is lack of pensions, benefits, and advancement opportunities (Reich et.al 1995).

Employers also benefit from the alternative work arrangements as their firms will have increased employee retention; their firms will experience higher and efficient productivity; employee tardiness will decrease; recruitment of highly dependable employees will get improved; staff turnover is reduced; there is maximum use of equipment and facilities, employees’ loyalty and morale is encouraged; and reduced absenteeism due to personal appointments, illness, or vacation is experienced. Employers can also experience problems with alternative work arrangements, for instance, they experience increased administration and training costs to train employees; some managers’ attitudes concerning traditional working arrangements, may be difficult to change hence they end up being uncomfortable; it may be difficulty to supervise the staff members; and the responsibilities of employees may reduce (Bruce, 2006).

There are a number of factors that influence organizations to take the option of alternative work arrangements. These factors include the desires, expectations, and needs of employees for increased work flexibility; fuel consumption and increased fuel costs due to commuting, and the associated carbon footprint wallop; and the restrictive wallop of the 2008-2009 economic depression concerning job opportunities. Work flexibility can be met by flextime arrangements as the employees are given a chance to choose their appropriate working hours. Telecommuting address the problems with fuel consumption since the employers will be operating from their homes using communication equipments such as computers and phones. This reduces the consumption of fuel and hence less cost will be incurred. Less fuel consumed results into reduced carbon emission hence reduced carbon footprint impact (Reich et.al 1995).

It is very important for availability of alternative work arrangements to employees within United States be mandated by law since it has been found that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Their will be increased productivity since the employees’ morale and loyalty will be encouraged. Employees will experience reduced fuel consumption and hence less costs as they will be operating from their homes using the communication devices for example telephones and computers. 

An organization’s management team must be concerned into motivating her employees irrespective of whether the organization’s economy is deteriorating or growing. Most of the small businesses or organizations experience shortage of resources such that they might not be able to enact formal motivation programs for employees. However, irrespective of this shortage of resources, managers can be able to achieve the same fundamental principles and ensure that employees are equally motivated. So that the employees are encouraged to realize that their jobs are important and that their participation is of value to the organization, the owners for the small business are supposes to communicate the purpose and aim of the organization to employees. The type of communication used in this case should comprise form of words and actions.

Studies have shown that, the most efficacious motivators of employees are the non-monetary motivators. The monetary motivators are seen insufficient since the expectations are outweighing the results and as well the difference in the distribution of the incentives to the employees can bring about disunity within themselves. The best non-monetary incentives that have been discovered are seen to promote team spirit and comprise responsibility, advancement, and recognition.  

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Employee Motivation

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Theories of Motivation

Psychologists have studied the topic of human motivation for over a century and they have been able to derive a number of theories on what motivates people. Their findings can be related to a workplace. The theories that have been ascertained and accepted are discussed below:

Theories of Motivation Based on Needs

The theories discussed below approach the needs of employees from different perspectives. They help us understand what motivates people based on their needs.

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow (2012) in 1943 suggested a theory called a hierarchy of needs. The needs advance from the lowest or physiological to the highest or self-actualization level. The theory postulates that once a need has been fulfilled, a person will be motivated by, or endeavor to fulfill the next level of needs. The theory is presented in a triangular design. Maslow deduced that everyone starts at the lowest point of the triangle and moves upwards once the needs of each level are met. The five levels of this hierarchy are:

  • Physiological needs- These are the needs a person should to meet in order to survive. They include food, shelter, water and clothing.
  • Security- This level includes an environment that is not threatening to an individual or his family. It also includes financial security and access to healthcare. Employers can fulfill this need by assuring employees of their job security and providing benefits such as health insurance and pension.
  • Affiliation- Includes the desire of employees to feel a sense of belonging to a group at their workplace. It is the desire of feeling loved and having a sense of belonging.
  • Esteem- This need includes the feeling of self-worth. It can be achieved by recognizing employees’ achievements.
  • Self-actualization- This includes the desire for personal development and growth. It can be fulfilled through regular promotions.
  • Alderfer’s ERG Theory

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  • Existence- This level combines the first two needs from Maslow’s theory, such as physiological and security needs.
  • Relatedness- Includes affiliation needs
  • Growth- Pertains to self-esteem and self-actualization.
  • Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

Herzberg (2011) further altered Maslow’s theory into two categories of motivators.

  • Hygiene factors- Includes factors such as supervision, salary, working conditions and relationships, security and administration.
  • Motivators- Pertains to factors such as recognition after achievement, growth and advancement in careers
  • McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory

McClelland suggests that needs are acquired throughout a person’s life. He focuses on three needs.

  • Need for Achievement- This relates to the desire to achieve goals.
  • Need for Affiliation- Desire for affiliations and relationships with others
  • Need for power- Desire for authority

Extrinsic Theories of Motivation

These theories pertain the external factors that have a role in employee motivation.

  • Reinforcement theory

B.F Skinner postulated this theory. He suggests that individuals are motivated when their actions are reinforced. He suggests reinforcements to be used both with desirable and undesirable behaviors.

  • Positive reinforcement- involves rewarding positive behavior
  • Avoidance learning- involves rewarding behavior that avoids negative behavior.
  • Punishment- focuses on creating negative consequences for negative behavior
  • Extinction- pertains removing rewards after undesirable behavior.

Intrinsic Theories of Motivation

These theories include endogenous factors that influence motivation. These theories address certain aspects of motivation; however, they should not be addressed in isolation (Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2014). They are highlighted below:

  • Adam’s Equity theory- This theory postulates that people get motivated when they believe that they are treated equally in comparison to other colleagues.
  • Vroom’s Expectancy Theory- This theory hypothesizes that individuals are motivated by performance.
  • Locke’s Goal Setting Theory- This theory suggests that setting of goals motivates employees to achieve them.

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Management Motivation Theories

Different aspects of management such as productivity and human resource offer the following approaches. They include:

  • Scientific Management theory- This was Fredrick Taylor’s idea. The theory presumes that employees are motivated and they should be paid depending on their output.
  • McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y- McGregor draws from Herzberg’s theory. Theory X assumes that employees are mainly bothered by the security need. Theory Y assumes the employees are concerned with achieving the higher levels of motivation.
  • Ouchi’s Theory Z- This theory focuses on employee commitment. It suggests that employees who are devoted to an organization will be motivated to work harder and reach company’s goals.

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essay about motivation employees

Misconceptions about Motivation of Employees

Many managers are not informed about what motivates their employees. One of the widespread mistakes is the bias towards extrinsic rewards, which mainly include money and related benefits. Managers assume that every employee is motivated by extrinsic rewards. Another misconception is that motivation amounts to manipulation. This is false because motivation benefits both the employee and the organization. Another misconception is that there can be a one-size-fits-all reward. This is also false because different things motivate different people.

Strategies to Motivate Employees

Expecting the best.

Employees tend to live up to the expectations that their managers and other people have of them. Therefore expecting the best from your employees will motivate them to do better.

Rewarding Desired Behavior

Different types of rewards should be given for different outcomes. This will enhance performance and motivate employees.

Tailored rewards

Organizations should get creative with the methods they use to motivate their employees. They should steer away from ordinary rewards.

Revitalizing Employees

When employees engage in their habitual work activities repeatedly, productivity declines and their motivation is likely to diminish. Therefore, the management should encourage them to take vacations, exercise and eat right.

Focus on Employee’s Strengths, Promoting High Performance and Encouraging Employees to Learn

Knowing the employee’s strengths and weaknesses helps to discover what each specific employee needs to perform well. It also helps to capitalize on the employee’s strengths.

How It Works

For managers, motivating employees can be a difficult task. Psychologists have tried to establish what motivates people, however, every individual is different and no single theory can represent everyone. Therefore, a manager needs to understand the individual needs of each employee and motivate them accordingly. Motivated employees can be extremely useful in the growth of an organization. Managers can improve their success in motivating employees by combing extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Live Chat Order now

Essay on Motivation of Employees

essay about motivation employees

Read this essay to learn about the Motivation of Employees. After reading this essay you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Motivation 2. Model of Motivation 3. Nature 4. Importance 5. Factors 6. Approaches 7. Theories.

Essay Contents:

  • Essay on the Theories of Motivation

1. Essay on the Meaning of Motivation:

The term motivation is derived from the Latin word ‘mover’ which means “to move”. Motivation is the forces acting on or within a person that causes the arrival, direction and persistence of goal directed, voluntary effort.

Motivation process explains why and how human behaviour is activated. Motivation is the ability to change the behaviour of a person. It is a drive that compels a person to act because human behaviour is directed towards some goal.

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Motivation is intrinsic (internal), it comes from within based on personal interests and desire for need fulfillment. However, extrinsic (external) factors such as rewards and promotions also influence motivation. As defined by Daft (1997), motivation refers to the forces interior or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action.

People committed to organisational objectives generally outperform those who are not committed. Those who are intrinsically rewarded by accomplishments in the work place are satisfied with their jobs. Therefore, an important part of management is to keep work satisfying and reward employees and keep employee motivation consistent with organisational objectives within the diversity of contemporary workplaces.

This is, however, a complex task as many factors including the influences of different cultures, differently affect what people value and what is rewarding to them. From the managers’ perspective, it is important to understand what prompts people, what influences them and why they perform particular actions.

Quick (1985) presented four underlying principles important to understand motivation:

1. People have reasons for everything they do.

2. Whatever people choose as a goal is something, they believe is good for them.

3. The goal people choose must be attainable.

4. The conditions under which the work is done can affect its value to the employee.

When management was first studied in a scientific way during the twentieth century, Frederick Wins low Taylor worked to improve productivity of labour. He developed efficiency measures and incentive system where workers were paid more for meeting a standard higher than normal production. This increased productivity dramatically. Therefore, workers seemed to be economically motivated.

During the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Elton Mayo and other researchers from Harvard University conducted studies at Western Electric Plant in Hawthorne to measure productivity. They studied the effects of fatigue, layout, heating and lighting on productivity. As management expected, when studying the impact of these factors on employee productivity, it increased because of increase in social factors.

Work force is primarily responsible for achieving the targets. The work force is required to be self starters, highly ambitious, result-oriented and go-getters. All work situations cannot be predicted and planned in view of the dynamic and changing market situations.

Effective working requires creative skills. Thus, the work force has to be kept highly motivated and committed, both externally and internally. Motivation is a complex force because the factors that motivate people are complex and complicated. Financial incentives may be important for some and non-financial incentives may be important for others. The manager must, therefore, determine what motivates the human behaviour.

An individual performs business tasks, in the first instance, not because he wants the organisational goals to be achieved but because that work will give him financial rewards through which he can satisfy his personal needs and desires. The need is, therefore, the driving force that motivates human behaviour.

“Motivation may be defined as the state of individual’s perspective which represents the strength of his or her propensity to exert effort toward some particular behaviour”.

“Motivation refers to expenditure of efforts towards a goal”. — Dubrin

“Motivation is the force that energizes behaviour, gives direction to behaviour and underlies the tendency to persist.” — Steers and Porter

“Motivation is a general term applying to the entire class of drives, desires, needs, wishes and similar forces. To say that managers motivate their subordinates is to say that they do those things which they hope will satisfy these drives and desires and induce the subordinates to act in a desired manner.” — Weihrich and Koontz

Thus, the process of motivation begins when a person has needs to satisfy. He performs actions (behaviour) to fulfill his need.

2. Essay on the Model of Motivation :

A model of motivation helps managers enforce the right motivators to prompt workers to action; suitable for the organisation to achieve its broader goals. According to the model, every individual has some need (primary or secondary) which he wants to satisfy and, therefore, engages in some behaviour. This behaviour is goal-directed as it aims to fulfill some goal, that is, the need of the individual.

If employees’ behaviour is acceptable to managers (it contributes to goals of the organisation), it is followed by rewards. Rewards satisfy their needs, but the behaviour does not come to an end because satisfaction of one need is followed by emergence of other needs. This reinforces their behaviour towards organisational activities and perpetuates further needs in them. The goal-directed behaviour, thus, becomes a continuous process.

On the contrary, if the behaviour is not suitably rewarded, and employee’s needs remain unsatisfied; he will not reinforce his behaviour towards the organisational activities and may change his action, change his need or look for other job opportunities.

If he continues on the same job, he may lose interest in work and become indifferent towards it. Though physically he may be present at work, mentally he may not be fulfilling the requirements of the job. Sometimes, non-satisfaction of needs leads to aggression also. The employee may act against a person or a thing. He may speak unparliamentarily language in the office or belittle his superiors. Aggression can be internal or external.

In internal aggression, the person finds fault with himself but in external aggression, he finds fault with others. There may also be displaced aggression where the employee vents out his anger on others since he cannot do the same at his superior. He may take up a fight with a colleague or an argument with spouse at home or may just slam the door or kick the objects at floor.

Different motivational theories ascertain the needs and desires of individuals that prompt them to action and satisfy them through various motivators. The needs are, thus, not always the cause of human behaviour they may even be a result of it.

essay about motivation employees

(vi) Skilled managers:

Different people satisfy different needs from same work. Same person also has different needs at different points of time.

a. Needs are ever-changing. Sometime, the individual himself is not clear of his need priority. The means for satisfying the needs, thus, becomes all the more complicated.

b. People may look to different motivators to satisfy the same need. For some, money may be a suitable motivator for ego satisfaction while for others it may be non-financial motivators like status or power.

c. Same motivator can satisfy different needs of a person. Financial rewards is a strong motivator to satisfy lower-order needs. However, it can also be desired to partly satisfy the higher-order needs.

Managers have to be skilled in motivating their employees. Unless they understand human needs, right motivators cannot be adopted. Of all the skills that managers have, the skill of motivating employees was greatly emphasised upon in a study conducted on motivation.

(vii) Positive and negative motivation:

Motivation normally means rewarding a person for contributing to organisational output. Negative motivation, that is, punishments and penalties, though not often used, can also be effective in influencing the human behaviour.

(viii) Goal-directed:

Motivation aims at directing behaviour towards organisational goals. Managers have to adopt motivators that direct human behaviour towards personal and organisational need satisfaction.

4. Essay on the Importance of Motivation:

(i) keep employees happy:.

Usual remuneration given in the form of salary or commission or any other kind is not sufficient, as it is common to all employees. Man is not a machine. He must be satisfied, happy and cheerful. It is normally found that a man is able to do his best when there is encouragement, stimulation, upliftment in the form of money, recognition, promotions, transfers, etc.

If the employees are satisfied, it gives more than what the company wants. Disgruntled, unsatisfied employees are likely to do more harm than good to the business organisation.

(ii) The nature of work:

The nature of job performed by employees also warrants the need for stimulation. Employees face a chain of incidents everyday, both happy and unhappy. The clients they meet are happy or unhappy, nice and courteous; some are rude, indifferent and curt. Some bring in orders; some only complaint and argue. Employees are regularly under mental tension, caused by the resistance of clientele and the competitors’ efforts.

They are not independent where there is bossing over them. These frequent ups and downs exhaust their stamina, vigour and, thus, they get bored, weary, and their level of performance drops down. Stimulation or motivation needs to be given to keep up their level of performance and ability.

(iii) To instill human treatment:

Man is not a machine where one can press the button to start and stop the work. He has feelings, sentiments, instincts-physical, psychological, spiritual, intellectual and social. The usual payment schemes or compensation plans satisfy his normal physical needs. The relationship between employers and employees should not be monetary or pecuniary for exchange of service or money. Money is not the only thing in life.

The performance of an employee is conditioned by the condition of his family. He cannot be expected to contribute his best, if his wife or mother is ill; even the disturbance caused by external factors can make the employee nervous, and he may not be able to work well. The incentives should account for non-financial aspects of his life where sympathy, recognition etc. have deeper effect than only fulfilling his physical needs.

(iv) Increase in efficiency:

When workers are motivated to satisfy their needs, they work to satisfy the organisational needs also. This increases the efficiency of organisational activities resulting in optimum utilisation of resources.

(v) Communication:

Motivation promotes communication between managers and workers. Both try to understand each other’s needs and satisfy them to the maximum possible extent.

(vi) Need-based motivation:

Managers find prime needs of the employees, physiological or psychological and try to fulfill those needs through motivation. Motivation, thus, satisfies personal needs of workers.

(vii) Combines ability with willingness:

Workers are sometimes able but not willing to perform organisational tasks, for lack of motivation. Effective motivation combines ability with willingness and maximises their potential to work.

(viii) Reduces labour absenteeism and turnover:

If workers are satisfied with their work and work environment, they contribute positively towards organisational goals and objectives. The rate of absenteeism and turnover gets reduced. This also provides job satisfaction and promotes self-discipline in the organisation.

(ix) Develops leaders:

Managers find the needs of employees and lead their behaviour in the right direction. Efficient leaders, thus, develop as a result of effective motivation.

(x) Overcomes resistance to change:

Motivated employees are less resistant to change as they understand the benefits of change. Change is the essence of management. Success is, thus, facilitated through a motivated work force.

(xi) Good industrial relations:

Low rate of absenteeism and turnover improves relations amongst the employer and employees. There is peace and discipline in the organisation. This promotes goodwill of the company and strengthens it ability to recruit qualified employees.

5. Essay on the Factors to Make Motivation Effective :

To create and sustain self or inner-motivation (or to make the motivation process effective), managers consider the following factors:

(i) Development of self:

Before trying to develop others, managers develop themselves in the art and skill of motivation. A manager must analyse how well his behaviour can assist him in modifying the behaviour of others. Motivating employees, thus, helps in the development of managers.

(ii) Participation:

Self-motivation is a greater force than external motivation. If workers have ability, experience and willingness to take part in managerial decision-making, they should be allowed to do so to promote self-motivation.

(iii) Job enrichment and job rotation:

Making the jobs challenging and varied motivates the employees to accept those jobs.

(iv) Management by results:

Motivation enables employees to set objectives and compare their performance with the standards. Subordinates become result-oriented and feel motivated to achieve the targets.

(v) Realise human behaviour – Their motives and abilities:

Managers keep organisational objectives in mind while directing human behaviour. In creating an effective motivational environment, managers also keep in mind the abilities, motives and willingness of the subordinates to work and mould their behaviour to achieve the organisational goals. Subordinates realise that contribution to organisational goals will help them to achieve their personal goals also.

(vi) Create a suitable work environment:

A suitable environment or work culture should be created where workers feel motivated to achieve the goals. Congenial working conditions, harmonious superior-subordinate relationships, flexible working hours, neat and tidy work place motivate the workers.

(vii) Healthy criticism:

No human being is perfect. One learns through mistakes. If an employee commits mistakes, managers should not criticize him. Rather, they should sit with him, discuss the issues, solve them and explain how to manage that situation efficiently so that mistakes do not occur in future. If managers consult employees’ behaviour with them, it motivates them to work harder.

6. Essay on the Approaches to Motivation :

Starting from the traditional approach of motivating by financial incentives to those who see work and job characteristics as more important factors than mere financial rewards.

Different approaches to motivation can be as follows:

1. Traditional approach,

2. Human relations approach,

3. Human resources approach, and 

4. Systems approach.

(i) Traditional approach:

This approach is based on Frederick Taylor’s scientific management school of thought. It is of the opinion that workers, by nature, are lethargic and non-innovative and are, therefore, interested in their jobs only to the extent of earning wages and salaries. Extra efforts are put only for financial rewards. Money is, thus, the motivator that makes people work.

If managers want workers to put extra efforts, they should provide them financial rewards. To maximise their income, workers would also be ready to put extra working hours. The proponents of this approach over-emphasise the role of monetary compensation and ignore the non-monetary factors that make people perform different jobs.

(ii) Human relations approach:

While strengthening their financial positions on working at formal positions, workers become part of the informal groups and get bounded by the norms and values of these groups. While carrying out the intentions of management (to maximise production), they also want their social needs and needs of being recognised by the peer group and superiors to be satisfied.

The human relations approach recognises this fact and attempts that workers make their own decisions and enjoy doing their jobs by creating an effective job environment. It makes the workers feel important and allows them to self-direct and control their activities.

The objective of the approach remains the same—makes the workers contribute towards organisational output; not by offering financial rewards alone but also by recognising their needs of social contacts and recognition. The human relations approach is based on Elton Mayo’s work at Western Electric Company.

It makes the workers feel they are important part of the organisation. They should participate in decision-making processes while decisions are more or less determined by the managers. Participation may be just symbolic gestures (real participation does not take place) but it motivates employees to perform better.

(iii) Human resources approach:

McGregor, Maslow, Likert and Argyris view that money and job satisfaction are not the prime motivators that promote organisational activities. According to them, satisfaction succeeds rather than precedes performance.

The human relations approach asserts that workers perform well because they are satisfied with their job content. The human resources approach, on the other hand, asserts when workers join a job, they do so with the intention of doing well, and their performance on the job gives them satisfaction.

This approach goes a step further in knowing the motivators and human needs that can be satisfied through them. It believes that human beings actually want to participate in the decision-making processes rather than seemingly being allowed to do so. It assumes that people want and are able to contribute towards organisational goals.

Managers and workers together discuss individual and organisational goals of the enterprise; both individuals and organisation should maximise each others’ interests and make optimum use of the human resource. The approach, thus, emphasises on the human being as a motivator to achieve goals of the organisation.

(iv) Systems approach to motivation:

Lyman Porter and Raymond Miles propagate the systems approach to motivation. According to them, “the entire set, or system, of forces operating on the employee must be considered before the employee’s motivation and behaviour can be adequately understood.”

A system, according to them, consists of three variables:

(a) Individual characteristics:

People join the same enterprise with different motives. Some may be interested in money while others in prestige and status. Depending on their needs and attitude towards work, suitable system of motivation should be adopted by managers.

(b) Job characteristics:

It presumes that workers are motivated to perform jobs which are challenging and enterprising while a job which is routine and repetitive with no growth opportunities is not motivating for them. This may not hold true for workers who work for financial benefits irrespective of the nature of job.

(c) Work situation characteristics:

It is important that organisation culture or work environment is healthy, harmonious and congenial. A work situation is motivating where people help each other, where promotions do not follow seniority but also merit, where good performance is appreciated and bad performance is not criticised but is improved upon, where workers are motivated through positive means of motivation.

7. Essay on the Theories of Motivation:

Human behaviour, being complex in terms of needs-behaviour-action process, different motivational theories emphasise on these elements in a different perspective. People have different needs and perceptions about how they will satisfy those needs. All theories of motivation focus on these relationships (individual needs and perception about how to satisfy them) but in a different way.

Some of the important theories of motivation are:

1. Need Theories:

Need theories identify the needs that motivate a person to perform organisational activities. Need theories answer a simple question: “What motivates people to act?” They believe that individuals have various needs and they work to fulfill those needs.

Two of the popular need theories are discussed below:

I. Need Hierarchy Theory :

The need hierarchy theory is formulated by Abraham Maslow. He advocates a hierarchy of needs present in all individuals. At a point of time, his behaviour reflects his desire to satisfy the strongest need present in him. Once that need is satisfied, the next strongest need arises and he strives to satisfy that need.

Managers determine that need and adopt motivators to satisfy it. Though normally people satisfy their needs in the order of hierarchy, starting from lower-level to higher-level needs, they may not always follow this order. The potency or strength of a need depends upon each individual’s set of priorities.

Need hierarchy consists of five types of needs. These needs, in the order of priority are:

(a) Physiological needs

(b) Safety needs

(c) Social needs

(d) Ego needs

(e) Self-actualisation needs.

The first three needs (physiological, safety and social) are lower-order needs and next two needs (ego and self-actualisation) are higher-order needs.

(a) Physiological needs:

These are the basic needs that people want to satisfy. They are the need for food, clothing, shelter and other necessities of life. They are also known as survival needs. The strongest motivator that can satisfy these needs is money and a healthy work environment.

(b) Safety needs:

Full or part satisfaction of physiological needs arouses safety needs in an individual. These are the needs to remain free from external dangers of war, destruction, accidents etc. and internal dangers of losing the job and maintaining the standard of physiological needs.

Safety is an important consideration in selecting a job as people want their jobs to satisfy their safety needs. The motivators that satisfy these needs are the benefits of life insurance, provident fund, health insurance and other retirement benefits.

(c) Social needs:

Man is a ‘social animal’. He cannot live alone. While working in the formal structure of authority-responsibility relationships, he develops affection and respect for his superiors and fellow workers. He becomes part of informal groups in the organisation. In fact, the very formation of informal groups is based upon peoples’ desire to satisfy their social needs.

Man wants to share his thoughts and feelings with others and, therefore, interacts with them. He wants to love and respect others and be loved and respected by them. He develops the need for acceptance and belongingness with others. Motivators like harmonious relationships, good natured fellow workers and healthy work environment satisfy his social needs.

(d) Ego needs:

This is a higher-order need concerned with self-respect, self-worth, power and prestige and arises after satisfaction of the lower-order needs.

These needs are of two types:

(i) Self-ego:

It is the desire of a person to develop competence, power and independence. It is the need to be satisfied with one’s own performance. At the organisational level, managers can satisfy these needs by providing a good office layout and job titles.

(ii) Public ego:

Along with job-satisfaction and self-confidence, a person also wants others to recognise him. The desire for prestige is a dominant form of ego needs. Prestige is “a sort of unwritten definition of the kinds of conduct that other people are expected to show in one’s presence; what degree of respect or disrespect, formality or informality, reserve or frankness.” The non-financial motivators satisfy ego needs of employees, such as important and challenging jobs (requiring varied skills), prestigious job locations and autonomy to take decisions.

(e) Self-actualisation needs:

These needs inspire a person to develop to his maximum potential. They are placed at the top of the need hierarchy. There is strong desire for achievement and competence in every person which arises after other needs are satisfied. These are the needs of becoming what one wants to become. People with strong self-actualisation needs do not wait for things to happen; they make things happen.

The inner desire to become a doctor or engineer or professor or social reformer and actually becoming one is the satisfaction of self-actualisation need. Personal and professional growth and achievement are the motives that promote self-actualisation needs of a person. The motivators that satisfy self-actualisation needs are challenging jobs, opportunities for innovation and growth and participative decision-making.

The need hierarchy and motivators that satisfy the needs is shown in the following figure:

Maslow's Need Hierarchy

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Features of Need-Hierarchy Theory:

The theory highlights the following features:

(a) People have a variety of needs. The motivation to work arises when they want to satisfy these needs. Unsatisfied needs are the motivation to work.

(b) Need satisfaction is a continuous process. On satisfaction of one need, other needs emerge.

(c) Satisfaction of lower-level needs is the foundation of the need hierarchy. Higher-level needs emerge on full or part satisfaction of these needs. A challenging and innovative job offer to an employee whose physiological needs are not fully satisfied may not get the desired output from him.

(d) Most individuals progress in the order of need hierarchy but this is not always true. The freedom fighters and social reformers, for example, have a strong desire to satisfy their self-actualisation needs even though their lower-order needs are not fully satisfied.

(e) Even if the hierarchy is followed, it is only part satisfaction of one need that arouses next need as important. The next need in order can have strong influence on human behaviour even before the lower need is fully satisfied.

The desire for money, for example, is always present in people. In fact the more one has, the more one wants. Money to a part extent can satisfy not only physiological needs but also safety, social and ego needs. It is, therefore, always on part satisfaction of one need that a person strives to satisfy the need next in order.

Critical Analysis:

The theory provides a background for managers to communicate with and understand the needs of the employees. It helps in devising a motivational plan to satisfy the needs and promote their performance. It explains why some people behave differently at different points of time and why same people behave differently at same point of time.

The cause of motivation; satisfaction of needs, seems to be quite logical, but the theory suffers from the following limitations:

(a) Managers cannot easily ascertain the needs that influence individual behaviour since needs keep changing from one to the other.

(b) There can be people whose higher order needs are stronger even though their lower level needs are not fully satisfied. For example, social reformers like Gandhiji or Mother Teresa and creative people like singers, artists, painters etc. have high desire for higher-order needs even though their lower-order needs are not substantially satisfied. The hierarchy does not, therefore, always hold good in practice. Maslow himself accepts this fact.

(c) It is not always true that at a point of time only one need influences the human behaviour. When a person joins a job, he wants to satisfy a combination of needs. Safety and physiological needs are normally wanted to be satisfied together as any job requirement.

(d) Part satisfaction is complex to understand. Workers of electricity company, for example, may find climbing the electricity poles, part of their routine while others may find it as threat to security. The level of satisfaction of a need is, therefore, difficult to understand. What is physiological need for one may be security need for another.

(e) Even on part or full satisfaction, any need does not cease to be a motivating factor. The need-behaviour-action is a continuous process and lower order needs, having been satisfied once, can be strong motivational forces again. Different needs, at a point of time, constantly interact and even overlap each other.

The needs are independent and overlapping at various points of time. Before one need fully disappears, the next higher-order need emerges. Thus, at a point of time, a person has many needs present in him, though in varying degrees.

While some needs are dominant, others are not. Therefore, when the intensity of a need decreases, it ceases to be a strong motivating factor for action. However, the need continues to influence human behaviour because of its overlapping nature.

essay about motivation employees

The figure indicates that physiological, safety, social and ego needs in part (achieved through family status and not personal development) can be satisfied through hygiene factors. Managers need to provide salary, bonus and good working conditions to avoid dissatisfaction on the job. The part of ego needs (which a person achieves not through family status but through competence and skills) and self-actualisation needs of achievement and growth can be satisfied through motivators on the job.

If managers identify the needs at a point of time, they determine the factors that will motivate people to fulfill those needs. If, on the other hand, they can identify the factors which motivate them to work, the needs to which these factors are related can be identified. If workers are more interested in salary than recognition, their physiological or safety needs are stronger than the higher-order needs.

essay about motivation employees

According to W. Clay Hamner, the following guidelines reinforce behaviour through positive reinforcement:

(a) Do not reward all employees equally:

Reward must be according to performance. Those who perform better should be rewarded more than those whose performance is average or sub-average.

(b) Do not respond to certain behaviour:

If managers do not want a behaviour to be repeated, they should simply ignore it.

(c) Tell employees what they can do to get positive reinforcement:

Managers should frame standards and guide employees’ behaviour to avoid poor performance.

(d) Tell employees why they have not been rewarded:

Rather than just not rewarding the employees, they should be explained about what went wrong and where and why the rewards have been withheld.

(e) Do not punish in front of others:

Even if managers want to punish the employees, they should not do so in front of others as this can cause frustration and resentment amongst them.

(f) Be fair to all:

Rewards must be given to those who deserve them. Giving rewards to non-deserving employees and not the deserving ones will fail to reinforce the behaviour.

Though this theory has produced desirable outcomes in many organisations, it has been criticised on the following grounds:

(a) It is believed to ignore social interaction amongst employees.

(b) It over emphasises external rewards and overlooks internal (intrinsic) factors that provide job satisfaction to employees.

4. Behavioural Theories :

The nature of individuals and how they behave in different situations forms the basis for motivation in the behavioural theory.

Two important theories that deal with human behaviour are discussed below:

I. Theory X and Theory Y :

This theory is formulated by Douglas McGregor. McGregor, in his work ‘The Human side of Enterprise’ wrote: “The theoretical assumptions management holds about controlling its human resources determine the whole character of the enterprise. They determine also the quality of its successive generations of management.” His theory is based on assumptions relating to human behaviour.

These assumptions differ depending upon the factors that affect human behaviour and help managers in adopting suitable motivators to satisfy their behavioural requirements. His theory is based on two sets of assumptions about human behaviour which help in adopting motivators for them. One set of assumptions is called Theory X and the other set of assumptions Theory Y.

Theory X assumes that people by nature are lazy, dislike work, do not want to assume responsibility, work only if directed and are very little or not ambitious about achieving their higher-order needs. They only want to fulfill their primary needs of food, clothing, shelter and security. Motivators like money and fringe benefits (insurance etc.) make them contribute to organisational goals.

The assumptions of Theory X are:

(a) Managers organise and integrate various human and physical resources to achieve economic goals of the enterprise.

(b) Workers are, by nature, lazy and like to work as little as possible.

(c) They lack ambition, avoid responsibility and work only if directed to work.

(d) They want to satisfy individual goals and are indifferent towards organisational goals.

(e) Managers direct, motivate, control and modify human behaviour to meet the organisational goals.

(f) People are resistant to change and want to work in stable conditions.

(g) Their lower-order needs are stronger than higher-order needs.

(h) Workers work through rewards, punishments and coercion. If managers do not persuade them to work, organisational goals will not be achieved.

This is a pessimistic approach of human behaviour. It provides rigid control, close supervision, one way communication and autocratic style of leadership for motivating human beings. The theory defines management as the art of getting things done by following the carrot and stick approach.

The other view held by managers about the nature of people is opposite to that of Theory X. McGregor felt that as people work in the organisation, their lower-order needs get satisfied over a period of time and they look forward to satisfy their higher-order needs of ego satisfaction and self-actualisation. They want to take part in decision-making processes, accept challenging jobs and work on lucrative and innovative job conditions.

They are, therefore, self-directed to contribute towards organisational goals. They aim to maximise both personal and organisational goals. They integrate individual goals with organisational goals. They do not only accept responsibility, they seek it from superiors to satisfy their needs of acknowledgement, creativity and innovation.

Basic assumptions underlying Theory Y are:

(a) Managers organise various organisational resources to achieve economic ends of the enterprise. (This assumption is similar to that of Theory X)

(b) Workers are not lazy. They have the potential to develop and readiness to work. Managers recognise these abilities and exploit them for the benefit of individuals and organisations.

(c) People are ambitious. Not only do they accept responsibility, they seek it from managers.

(d) Motivation does not come from outside. People are self-directed and self-motivated to work towards organisational goals.

(e) Managers create an environment where individuals integrate personal goals with organisational goals.

(f) People are not resistant to change. They are imaginative and creatively solve organisational problems in the turbulent, dynamic environment.

(g) Workers strive to satisfy their higher-order needs through self-direction, self-control and participative styles of leadership.

(h) Rewards are non-financial in nature. They promote recognition and achievement.

Theory Y, thus, holds optimistic view about human nature where people integrate their goals with corporate goals. Motivators like recognition, praise, admiration, participative style of leadership, two way communication and challenging job opportunities motivate people to work.

essay about motivation employees

People have characteristics of both the theories with varying emphasis at different points of time.

(e) These theories are based on assumptions and not actual research findings. The assumptions may not always hold good.

Though McGregor’s assumptions are criticised, the following points help to understand the theory and avoid its misinterpretation:

(a) Theory X and Theory Y are only two sets of assumptions about human nature not based on empirical findings. Rather than following these assumptions blindfold, managers should test them against reality and formulate the management strategies.

(b) Theory X does not mean ‘strict management’ and Theory Y does not mean ‘soft management’. Soft management can be effective in Theory X assumptions as in case of Theory Y assumptions. Managers should recognise the abilities of subordinates and adopt the appropriate management style. The two theories are, therefore, situational in nature.

(c) The theories should not be seen as lying on two ends of the same continuum (as asserted by critics). There are two sets of assumptions about human nature which should be followed independently.

(d) Adopting Theory X or Theory Y is only a matter of fitting task requirements to people and the situation. Strict use of authority and structure may be effective for certain tasks and ineffective for others. Managers should, therefore, look beyond the assumptions of two theories and adopt a managerial style that best fits the situation.

II. Theory Z :

This theory is developed by William Ouchi He studied the Japanese management style because of the rising success of Japanese companies and focused on Japanese managerial practices that could be adopted by companies in the United States. He made comparative analysis of Japanese and the US-based companies, analysed the way the Japanese and the US managers managed their companies and concluded that most of the successful companies in America had integrated the Japanese style of management with the American style of management.

Theory Z is, thus, not an independent theory but a hybrid theory of management which incorporates the features of both Japanese and American managerial styles. This theory is “a concept that combines positive aspects of American and Japanese management into a modified approach aimed at increasing US managerial effectiveness while remaining compatible with the norms and values of American society and culture.”

Ouchi studied the following features relevant to the Japanese and American companies:

essay about motivation employees

While the tendency might be to associate team happiness solely with group interest and financial incentives, a publication in the National Library of Medicine suggests otherwise that meaningful work, feeling appreciated by co-workers, and enjoyment of daily tasks are significant for achieving happiness at work. Keeping that in mind, authentic leadership must focus on providing a proper environment for talents to thrive, and as Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, is often quoted as saying: "Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your business."

Invest in professional development and upskilling.

Learning new skills and knowledge can give employees the confidence and motivation to tackle new challenges and improve their performance. Recently, a few team members have embarked on a journey to qualify in a field not closely related to their work experience. When they complete their course, the company will reimburse them. And that is the company policy—regardless of the type of training. When employees expand their knowledge and acquire new skills, they bring new ideas and solutions into the organization.

Empowering your workforce with opportunities to improve themselves and develop inner capacity shows that you are committed to their personal and professional development and to keeping them happy and engaged.

Russian Troops Left Their Warehouse Doors Open. Ukrainian Drones Flew Right Inside—And Blew Up A Bunch Of Armored Vehicles.

Why navy secretary carlos del toro blasted america’s big shipbuilders, ‘avatar: the last airbender’: how to watch the live-action netflix series, align organizational values with employee aspirations..

A survey from McKinsey & Company emphasizes employees' expectations that their jobs should bring a fundamental sense of purpose to their lives. Employers must help them meet this need, or they will likely leave.

I ensure that my organizations' values align with the employees' personal and professional aspirations because when individuals see a congruence between their values and those of the company, it gives them a deep sense of purpose and happiness in their contributions. For instance, before hiring, I wanted the prospects to show real commitment to growth and improvement as we are working to grow together and evolve with our partners and clients.

Provide well-being initiatives.

The well-being of employees is integral to their happiness. That is why, according to "Aon’s 2022-2023 Global Wellbeing Survey, organizations are increasingly investing in the wellbeing of their employees , and wellbeing continues to be a focus."

Wellness programs, stress management workshops and access to mental health resources contribute to a holistic approach to employee happiness and are often considered essential in any organization. Along with extra health insurance at my companies, we provide a card for sports activities according to the employees' preferences.

Prioritize flexibility.

Participants in the survey State of Work in America said that flexibility is one of the most desired traits in today's workplace. More than half (51%) of the employees would give up a 10%-20% pay raise for greater flexibility. In my experience, encouraging flexibility demonstrates a genuine concern for the well-being of employees and contributes to their overall happiness.

Whether people prefer unsupervised hybrid, fully remote, compressed hours, or part-time, it is fine by me. We have offices in different cities in Bulgaria and provide the opportunities they need. As long as the work is done, they can work from anywhere, anytime.

Foster a culture of appreciation and recognition.

A study published in the International Journal of Research shows that an organization must develop strategies to create a healthy working environment for its employees. A culture of appreciation fosters happiness and pride in one's contributions. My team and I regularly celebrate achievements, both big and small, to affirm the value of each team member. I have a tradition of giving books that fit best someone's personality as small tokens of appreciation.

More To Consider

According to People at Work 2023 , companies that take an innovative approach to finding new (and potentially more cost-effective) ways to compensate workers in difficult financial situations could find it helpful on both sides. Almost 4 in 10 employees would be happy with an extra paid vacation (39%) or shorter work weeks (32%). My approach is to give employees extra free time whenever needed for personal reasons—without asking additional questions. That works within my companies and is a proven way to increase employee happiness.

Remember to communicate. The tips listed above can only be actionable by establishing open and transparent communication within the organization. It is crucial for leaders to create an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their needs so those needs can be met.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

Nikola Minkov

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Money: Motivation for Employees

Introduction of motivation, employee motivation, money and employee motivation, importance of financial incentives at the workplace, money is not the only motivation, ways for motivating the employees.

Motivation is mainly a force driving us to do some work, and directs behavior. The force which drives the person to do something to achieve something is known as Motivation. It a kind of internal energy, which is not concerned with the people’s personality, rather pushes his/her behavior in order to achieve some tasks. It can also be defined as an internal condition which activates one’s behavior. An individual to achieve certain tasks targets his goals and achieve that through motivation and work with more zeal to complete those tasks. Motivation revolves around basically three fundamentals such as; arousal of behavior, direction of behavior and persistence of behavior. (Romando, 2009)

Demotivation is a problem that can end up the interest of an employee in working and he looses the spirit of working with full efforts. So this situation should be avoided according to the experts. The occurrence of this situation is a problem in every field. This problem mostly takes place when the employees are feeling that there is nothing new and innovative to do and they consider that they are stuck and not moving ahead. Obviously every one works for earning the bread and butter and every one wants to move ahead and also wants to progress so if the employees feel that the chances of progress are minimum or zero then they get bored of their work and are not motivated to work any more. For this very particular reasons the managers form the human resource management department are asked to introduce new ways and methods to motivate the employees and keep on introducing new benefits and bonuses for the employees as well as other such activities and regards that can encourage the employees for working and they do not feel like being stuck at a single place. If the employees are not motivated then obviously they will not be interested in working and this will be harmful for the organization as they will be no longer interested in giving their services to the organization. In today’s business world it is the strategy of most of the multinational companies that they try to introduce new methods and ways for the encouragement of the employees by providing them more benefits, rewards, certificates and bonuses etc. In such scenarios the employees are happy and are interested in working. It is not that the employees are motivated just because of money; the employees are also happy if they are getting rewards and their work is being encouraged. If the employees are motivated because of money then again it is not a bad thought as if they want to earn by working hard then it is a good intention. This approach is very much essential as to achieve the maximum output and also for making the employees to realize that there hard work id being noticed. All this can only be possible when the managers want to do this. (Employee motivation, 1, 2008)

It can be proved from researches that the financial incentives given to the employees affect a lot the job performance of the employees. Companies have to keep in mind the quality of work and also the limitation of the financial incentives being paid to the employees. It is true that money can motivate the employees to the large extent and there can be many different reasons for which the employees are getting motivated for the hard work because of having in mind that in return they will be paid by the bonuses and incentives. Money is not a small element for the employees and it is a big reason for them for getting motivated as they need for fulfilling their needs but they also need some other non financial motivators apart from money. The employees that are working in an organization have different nature, thinking, opinions and reasons for working. There are some employees who need money basically but they want to earn by their hard work so they want money as well as other encouragements while there are many employees who believe on the statement that acceptance is more important than money. It is important for a manger to understand the nature of his employees and also to get the information that for what reason they are getting motivated by money. Financial incentives improve the job performance level to the large extent and this fact can not be ignored. We know that materialism is a terminology that describes the love for money over all the other things. The employees that are financially very much weak feel happy when there is an increase in the salary or they are being paid some financial bonuses and so on so such employees are mostly motivated to work for getting more money as it is their need so this is not a wrong approach because they want to earn more by working more and they do not want to earn through wrong means. But still they want that their work should be appreciated and they should also be encouraged by their seniors so it can not be said that money is the only motivation for them. Although money is a big reason for their motivation but it is not the only reason. The materialism that derives one person to get motivated for money is again of two types: instrumental materialism and terminal materialism. Instrumental materialism refers to the desire of money for achieving some personal goals while the terminal materialism is the desire of money for achieving the social status and then comparing own status with the status of others. The first type of materialism is a healthy one as one should always try to improve his own living and standard but the second type is quite negative because it is creating a feeling of jealousy and in this feelings some times the employees perform the wrong activities as well. The motivation for money is again of three types: positive, negative and freedom of action.

Positive Motives: Positive motives means to work for getting more money in order to fulfill the basic needs and necessities of life.

Negative Motives: Negative motives refer to work for the sake of money so that superiority over other people can be proved.

Freedom of Action: By using money for freedom of action it is meant that the employee wants to have money just to use it in his own wants. He does not need money for fulfilling any needs. (Houran, 2, n.d)

Obviously every single person on this earth is working for fulfilling his needs. Although negative motivation is a bad approach but positive motivation or working for the freedom action is not a bad approach. In today’s competitive world every employee wants to do better than the other and this can be shown by giving the fair wages, salaries, incentives and bonuses to the employees so that they can see that for their hard work they are getting some thing. This fact can not be neglected that the financial incentives are very important for the employees. The employees are motivated to work for the achievement of these incentives and encouragement and this obviously enhances the level of performance. According to a research that was conducting for forty years shows that although the money motivates the employees to the large extent but still it is not the only reason of motivation. Employees also want to perform better ad the encouragement over their performance is also a necessary element for their motivation. It is so natural that if the employees are working so hard but still they are getting very little then obviously they will be least interested in working as they will think that there is no respect being given to their hard efforts. In short the nature of a good employee can be describes as they money, respect and attention otherwise it is better to show them the door way. Obviously the relation between the money and the employees can not be denied and it can not be said that employees are not working and motivated to work for money. Although there can be many other reasons but money is a big one. (Houran, 2, n.d)

There is a concept that money is the only motivation for the employees for working hard and making their performance better. But this is not true because although money is major factor to earn and no body works for free but when the employees work hard they also look for the encouragement and appreciation of the managers for whom they are working. Motivation is the feeling that resides in the insight of a person and motivation comes when they enjoy doing something. So if an employee is working so hard and he is not getting and appreciation rather his work is being ignored totally then he will never enjoy in working and this situation will make him bored of working. So for creating a happy feeling about work there should be some incentives, bonuses, encouragement, appreciation and rewards so that the employees get interested in working more and more. If the employees are encouraged and their work is being appreciated then their self esteem and self determination will be improved. For this reason it is now getting necessary for all the companies to develop and introduce new ways of encouraging the people associated with the company. So it can not be said that money is the only motivation rather it would be proper to say that money is the basic need for which people work but besides that they really need encouragement as well. (Ward, 1, 2007)

There can be some ways and if these ways are used then the motivation of employees can be improved:

  • Making the employees to contribute in every single activity of the company.
  • The managers should personally deals with the employee so that they have the motivation just for making good reputation in front of their employer.
  • All the employees should be trained for respecting all the other colleagues.
  • The employees should be informed about every thing that is going on in the company.
  • There must exist a good communication between the employees and the managers.
  • Sound and peaceful working environment should be established.
  • Employees should be provided with all the resources that are required by them. (Hawroth, 4, n.d)

By observing the over all paper we can conclude that although money is the major element for which people do work and obviously no body are working for free and no body should work for free. People need more and more money because of fulfilling their essential needs in today’s world. It can be said that money is a source of motivating people for working more, striving more and improving their performance so that their position in the company is improved and they can get more and more money but it can not be concluded by saying so that money is the only motivation that forces the employees to work harder. Employees are working hard so they really want the proper output and if they are getting less then obviously they will be no more interested in to working. Hence we can conclude that money is one of the sources of motivation but not the only one and same thing has been proven by many researchers as well. So it should be made sure that the managers are not only using money as a tool for motivating their employees for working hard. The employees should also be provided with more challenges, holidays, breaks, incentives and so on. (How to obtain employee motivation without using money, 1, 1997)

Carter Mc. Namara, Basics about employee motivation (2008) Web.

Define Motivation (2008) Web.

Employee motivation (2008) Web.

Employee motivation- Motivation in the workplace- Theory and practice (2008) Web.

Employee motivation, morale, recognition, rewards and retention. 2009. Web.

How to obtain How to obtain employee motivation without using money (1997) Web.

James Houran, Money and employee motivation. 2009. Web.

James R. Lindner, Understanding employee motivation. 2009. Web.

John Lloyd, Money is only one piece of the motivation puzzle. 2009. Web.

Martin Hawoth, Employee Motivation- Get the basic rights first. 2009. Web.

Richard Romando, Define Motivation. 2009. Web.

R.L. Fielding, Employee motivation strategies (2008) Web.

Ten tips on improving employee motivation. 2009. Web.

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How This Crucial Leadership Style Will Increase Your Employee Retention Becoming like V.A.N.C.E. is a great employee retention strategy, allowing you to enjoy a better work culture and a higher ROI.

By Elayna Fernandez • Feb 22, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming like VANCE is a great employee retention strategy, allowing companies to enjoy a better work culture and a higher ROI.
  • In my work as a corporate trainer, I've encountered countless supportive leaders who know that in caring for their team, they are caring for their own position in the company and the organization's wellbeing.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It was almost 9 p.m. on a Sunday, and I had officially spent all weekend pretty much on my couch, feeling a rollercoaster of emotions and trying to process the Friday morning meeting with my manager.

The words kept echoing in my head: "It's the most supportive decision for you." I felt I was being penalized for doing too much and doing it well.

I felt a punch in the gut when my manager told me about all the meetings that had taken place: what I should be doing, how long I should be doing it for, and who would take over things I had previously done. A decision had been reached that would affect my entire life, and I was not invited to the decision-making process.

I don't even make decisions about my four-year-old child without her consent! I kept thinking as I raged, cried, and felt the shame of having sacrificed myself to perform with excellence while clearly being underpaid.

As I got up from that couch that night, I thought about how today, more than ever, employees need truly supportive leaders . And that's when Vance came to mind.

Back in 2009, when I was recovering from cancer, I covered the Naples International Film Festival as an influencer.

The film 500 Days of Summer , a romantic comedy-drama directed by Marc Webb, left an impression on me. Everyone knows that I love rom-coms, but the truth is that this film teaches a powerful lesson about supportive leadership .

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Tom Hansen, a hopeless romantic who writes greeting cards for a living. He falls in love with co-worker Summer Finn, played by Zooey Deschanel. Their breakup and his eventual heartbreak affect every aspect of his life and, naturally, his productivity and work performance.

Mr. Vance, Tom's boss, portrayed by Clark Gregg requests a meeting with him based on a very explicit Valentine's Day card he wrote. The conversation goes like this:

Tom: Mr. Vance... Are you firing me?

Vance: No. No. Relax, Hansen. You're one of the good ones.

Tom: Okay, well, yeah, I'm sorry. Things have been a little difficult.

Vance: That's okay. I completely understand that. I'm just saying that perhaps you could channel those energies into something like this.

Tom: Funerals and sympathy!

Vance: Misery, sadness, loss of faith. No reason to live. This is perfect for you. Good. Okay. And back to work you go.

Tom: Thank you.

Mr. Vance was concerned about Tom and suggested a supportive solution because he saw him and what he was going through. Vance's response to Tom in 500 Days of Summer is like a masterclass in supportive leadership.

Related: Are You a Trauma-Responsive Leader? Why Trauma-Informed Leaders Make a Happy and Healthy Workplace

The supportive leadership style

A supportive leader regularly checks in with employees, learns whether something is blocking them from achieving their goals, and then allows them the freedom to creatively come up with their own solutions.

This is what Vance did, and it inspired my acronym:

V alidate their pain

A ffirm their value

N urture their positive skills

C ultivate safety

E ncourage a way forward

Related: Intent vs. Impact: What Leaders Need to Know to Create a Safe Space

Be like V.A.N.C.E.

Let's go through every letter of the V.A.N.C.E. acronym to understand the supportive leadership concept:

  • Validate their pain — Supportive leaders sense when something is off with a team member and acknowledge it out loud — to their face. They genuinely care about the whole person, not just their performance.
  • Affirm their value — By offering authentic appreciation, people feel valued even when performance isn't going well. When Vance says, "You're one of the good ones!" he focuses on true identity versus current productivity levels.
  • Nurture their positive skills — Whether someone is stuck in a grief or trauma cycle when someone is struggling, it's important to state what could go right rather than what is going wrong. Vance pointed out what new skills emerged from Tom's predicament, which helped Tom feel seen in a very hard situation.
  • Cultivate safety —Supportive leaders hold a safe space and seek understanding without placing blame or shame. A "no retribution rule" allows people to open up and express their feelings.
  • Encourage a way forward — Supportive leaders encourage team members to envision a new future with the company while fully respecting their sense of autonomy and affirming their sense of belonging. The "we're in this together" spirit is palpable and reassuring.

When trying to be supportive goes wrong

That Sunday night, I felt demoralized, excluded, and discriminated by that manager's decision - and not at all supported.

The meaning of the word support, according to its etymology, is "to bear part or all of the weight." To be a genuinely supportive leader, there has to be a sense that we will share the burden. Imposing so-called solutions based on what is convenient for the company without employee buy-in does not equal genuine support.

And that's why I wrote my resignation letter for a job I truly loved and a company I was loyal to. While I didn't recite an epic "I quit" speech like Tom Hansen did, my resignation was effective the next day. I knew I deserved better - a leader who was committed to being like Vance.

Related: 7 Ways for Leaders to Gracefully Accept a Resignation

Leaders like Vance are not only a work of fiction. In my work as a corporate trainer, I've encountered countless supportive leaders who know that in caring for their team, they are caring for their own position in the company and the organization's wellbeing.

Supportive leaders help companies avoid the devastating impact of high employee turnover. After all, we all know that people don't quit companies — they quit people.

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Storyteller | Strategist | Student of Pain

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Guest Essay

It’s Not Just Wages. Retailers Are Mistreating Workers in a More Insidious Way.

A photograph of an employees-only space in a store.

By Adelle Waldman

Ms. Waldman’s forthcoming novel, “Help Wanted,” takes place in a big-box store.

Back in 2018, with an eye to writing a novel about low-wage work in America, I got a job at a big-box store near the Catskills in New York, where I live. I was on the team that unloaded the truck of new merchandise each day at 4 a.m.

We were supposed to empty the truck in under an hour. Given how little we made — I was paid $12.25 an hour, which I was told was the standard starting pay — I was surprised how much my co-workers cared about making the unload time. They took a kind of bitter pride in their efficiency, and it rubbed off on me. I dreaded making a mistake that would slow us down as we worked together to get 1,500 to 2,500 boxes off the truck and sorted onto pallets each morning. When the last box rolled out of the truck, we would spread out in groups of two or three for the rest of our four-hour shift and shelve the items from the boxes we just unloaded.

Most of my co-workers had been at the store for years, but almost all of them were, like me, part time. This meant that the store had no obligation to give us a stable number of hours or to adhere to a weekly minimum. Some weeks we’d be scheduled for as little as a single four-hour shift; other weeks we’d be asked to do overnights and work as many as 39 hours (never 40, presumably because the company didn’t want to come anywhere close to having to pay overtime).

The unpredictability of the hours made life difficult for my co-workers — as much as if not more than the low pay did. On receiving a paycheck for a good week’s work, when they’d worked 39 hours, should they use the money to pay down debt? Or should they hold on to it in case the following week they were scheduled for only four hours and didn’t have enough for food?

Many of my co-workers didn’t have cars; with such unstable pay, they couldn’t secure auto loans. Nor could they count on holding on to the health insurance that part-time workers could receive if they met a minimum threshold of hours per week. While I was at the store, one co-worker lost his health insurance because he didn’t meet the threshold — but not because the store didn’t have the work. Even as his requests for more hours were denied, the store continued to hire additional part-time and seasonal workers.

Most frustrating of all, my co-workers struggled to supplement their income elsewhere, because the unstable hours made it hard to work a second job. If we wanted more hours, we were advised to increase our availability. Problem is, it’s difficult to work a second job when you’re trying to keep yourself as free as possible for your first job.

No wonder my co-workers cared so much about the unload time: For those 60 minutes, they could set aside such worries and focus on a single goal, one that may have been arbitrary but was largely within our shared control and made life feel, briefly, like a game that was winnable.

Many people choose to work part time for better work-life balance or to attend school or to care for children or other family members. But many don’t. In recent years, part-time work has become the default at many large chain employers, an involuntary status imposed on large numbers of their lowest-level employees. As of December, almost four and a half million American workers reported working part time but said they would prefer full-time jobs.

When I started working at the store, I assumed that the reason part-time work was less desirable than full-time work was that by definition, it meant less money and fewer or no benefits. What I didn’t understand was that part-time work today also has a particular predatory logic, shifting economic risk from employers to employees. And because part-time work has become ubiquitous in certain predominantly low-wage sectors of the economy, many workers are unable to find full-time alternatives. They end up trapped in jobs that don’t pay enough to live on and aren’t predictable enough to plan a life around.

There are several reasons employers have come to prefer part-time workers. For one thing, they’re cheaper: By employing two or more employees to work shorter hours, an employer can avoid paying for the benefits it would owe if it assigned all the hours to a single employee.

But another, newer advantage for employers is flexibility. Technology now enables businesses to track customer flow to the minute and schedule just enough employees to handle the anticipated workload. Because part-time workers aren’t guaranteed a minimum number of hours, employers can cut their hours if they don’t anticipate having enough business to keep them busy. If business picks up unexpectedly, employers have a large reserve of part-time workers desperate for more hours who can be called in on short notice.

Part-time work can also be a means of control. Because employers have total discretion over hours, they can use reduced schedules to punish employees who complain or seem likely to unionize — even though workers can’t legally be fired for union-related activity — while more pliant workers are rewarded with better schedules.

In 2005 a revealing memo written by M. Susan Chambers, then Walmart’s executive vice president for benefits, who was working with the consulting firm McKinsey, was obtained by The New York Times. In it she articulated plans to hire more part-time workers as a way of cutting costs. At the time, only around 20 percent of Walmart’s employees were part time. The following year, The Times reported that Walmart executives had told Wall Street analysts that they had a specific target: to double the company’s share of part-time workers, to 40 percent. Walmart denied that it had set such a goal, but in the years since, it has exceeded that mark .

It’s not just Walmart. Target, TJX Companies, Kohl’s and Starbucks all describe their median employee, based primarily on salary and role, as a part-time worker. Many jobs that were once decent — they didn’t make workers rich, but they were adequate — have quietly morphed into something unsustainable.

One of the most surprising aspects of this movement toward part-time work is how few white-collar people, including economists and policy analysts, have seemed to notice or appreciate it. So entrenched is the assumption that full-time work is on offer for most people who want it that even some Bureau of Labor Statistics data calculate annual earnings in various sectors by taking the hourly wage reported by participating employers and multiplying it by 2,080, the number of hours you’d work if you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Never mind that in the real world few workers in certain sectors are given the option of working full time.

The shift to part-time workers means that focusing exclusively on hourly pay can be misleading. Walmart, for example, paid frontline hourly employees an average of $17.50 as of last month and recently announced plans to raise that to more than $18 an hour. Given that just a few years ago, progressives were animated by the Fight for $15 movement, these numbers can seem encouraging. The Bloomberg columnist Conor Sen wrote on social media last year that “Walmart’s probably a better employer at this point than most child care providers and a lot of the jobs in higher ed.”

The problem is that most Walmart employees don’t make $36,400, the annualized equivalent of $17.50 an hour at 40 hours a week. Last year, the median Walmart worker made 25 percent less than that, $27,326 — equivalent to an average of 30 hours a week. And that’s the median; many Walmart workers worked less than that.

Likewise, at Target, where pay starts at $15 an hour, the median employee makes not $31,200, the annualized full-time equivalent, but $25,993. The median employee of TJX (owner of such stores as TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods) makes $13,884 a year; the median Kohl’s employee makes $12,819.

Those numbers, though low, are nevertheless higher than median pay at Starbucks, a company known for its generous benefits. To be eligible for those benefits, however, an employee must work at least 20 hours a week. At $15 an hour — the rate Starbucks said it was raising barista pay to in 2022 — 20 hours a week would amount to $15,600 a year. But in 2022 the median Starbucks worker made $12,254 a year, which is lower than the federal poverty level for a single person.

And this is after the post-Covid labor shortage, when pay for low-wage workers rose faster than it did for people in higher income brackets.

Since my stint at the big-box store, where I ended up working for six months, I’ve come to think that every time we talk about hourly wages without talking about hours, we’re giving employers a pass for the subtler and more insidious way they’re mistreating their employees.

From the perspective of employers, flexible scheduling remains extremely efficient. But that efficiency means reneging on the bargain on which modern capitalism long rested. Since the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act during the New Deal era, employers have had to pay most of their workers for 40 hours of work even when business was slow. That was just the cost of doing business, a risk capitalists bore in exchange for the upside potential of profit. Now, however, employers foist that risk onto their lowest-paid workers: Part-time employees, not shareholders, have to pay the price when sale volumes fluctuate.

To the extent that the shift to part-time work has been noticed by the larger world, it has often undermined rather than increased sympathy for workers. For decades, middle- and upper-class Americans have been encouraged to believe that American workers are hopelessly unskilled or lazy. (Remember when Elon Musk praised Chinese workers and said American workers try to “avoid going to work at all”?) The rise in part-time work seems on its face to support this belief, as white-collar workers, unfamiliar with the realities of the low-wage work environment, assume that workers are part time by choice.

It’s a bit rich. Policies undertaken to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers’ well-being are then held up as evidence of the workers’ poor character. There is poor character at play here. It’s just not that of workers.

Adelle Waldman ( @adellewaldman ) is the author of two novels, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” and the forthcoming “Help Wanted.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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What I got wrong about loyalty at work

Turns out Gen Zers aren't the only ones who are fed up with their employers

In January, I published a story on how loyalty died in the American workplace. The response to the story was huge: I received more emails and LinkedIn messages about it than I had for any other piece I've written in my 14 years as a journalist. And what struck me most were the readers who wanted to tell me that I got something wrong.

In the story, I wrote that people seem to divide into two groups when it comes to the decline of workplace loyalty . "On one side," I asserted, "are the bosses and tenured employees, the boomers and Gen Xers. Kids these days, they gripe . Do they have no loyalty? On the other side are the younger rank-and-file employees, the millennials and Gen Zers, who feel equally aggrieved. Why should I be loyal to my company when my company isn't loyal to me? "

To my surprise, a lot of older readers took issue with getting lumped into the pro-loyalty camp. "Loyal GenX – Are You Kidding?" read the subject line of one email from a Gen Xer. Someone else wrote, more gently, "While I feel you're spot on with most of your facts you've got gen x all wrong." They added: "My generation leads in workplace dissatisfaction and realized 2 decades ago that there was no more corporate loyalty."

We're used to hearing 20-somethings complain about the state of corporate America today. But I didn't expect to receive such an outpouring of dismay and disillusionment from seasoned workplace veterans. I'd written the story for young people, as a defense of their decision to rebel against the notion that we owe our employers a debt of gratitude. Instead, I seem to have unintentionally tapped into the quiet frustration of more experienced employees. After all, it's the boomers and Gen Xers who actually remember a time when their companies treated them better. For them, the broken "psychological contract" I described in my story isn't some historical artifact. It's their lived experience. "You summarized everything I experienced in the last 38 years of my career," one reader wrote.

Readers told me they have watched employers renege on the social contract in a variety of ways. One boomer, a retired banking executive, acknowledged that he himself was lucky to have spent more than 30 years with a single company that treated him well. But starting in the 1980s, he watched as other businesses caved to the whims of Wall Street, cutting employee benefits to squeeze out every last penny for shareholders. Today, he wrote, "Corporate greed is paramount at the expense of everything else."

A slightly younger reader, who graduated from college in 1993, had a pension at his first job. Then, to the great outrage of his older colleagues, their employer scrapped the company retirement plan and converted it into a 401(k). The reader said it took years for the nature of the betrayal to become clear to him. Another noted that layoffs were already the norm by the time he entered the workforce, but that companies at least conducted them with a modicum of dignity. "Back in the 90s, an executive would be genuinely ashamed to lay off someone in a mass email," he wrote. "Managers had the decency to look you in the eye when they delivered the bad news." There isn't a generational divide over workplace loyalty, these readers were telling me. Employees of all ages are fed up with the way their companies treat them.

Why did the piece strike such a chord with older workers? I put this question to one of them. "It resonated," he replied, "because I still see company leadership telling us to give it our all and make sacrifices above and beyond to make the company prosperous — prosperity that we are very unlikely to share in." Contrary to what I wrote, he has watched with dismay as his younger colleagues fall for the company's line. "I see many people, particularly younger employees buying into it," he said. "Millennials badly need to become as cynical, demanding, and difficult as the press makes them out to be."

This is not, to put it mildly, the way I had framed it in my story. American workplaces, it appears, are full of Gen X and boomer Marxes. Millennials of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

The comment reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a software engineer I'll call Gabriel. Last year, he was devastated to be laid off from his very first job out of college. Only a few weeks earlier, executives had assured everyone in an all-hands meeting that, while times were tough, the company wasn't at the point where it needed to lay people off. Gabriel thought he deserved at least a warning that the cuts might be coming. He thought he deserved to know why they chose him, and not others on his team. He thought he'd be rewarded, as a high performer, with job security.

In his new job, he puts in eight hours of labor a day, five days a week — and not a minute more.

These didn't strike me as unreasonable expectations. But as we talked, Gabriel seemed almost ashamed for having held them. He blamed himself for ever expecting his employer to treat him fairly. "It was my fault for even feeling like I was owed anything," he told me. Now, in his new job, the only thing he feels entitled to is his agreed-upon salary — and in return, he puts in eight hours of labor a day, five days a week, and not a minute more. "I'm not going to ever go above and beyond," he says.

That's how Gabriel, and many other workers, have decided to even the scales in the modern workplace. But as I wrote in my original story, I don't think this is actually the world most of us want — a kind of hypertransactional relationship between employers and employees where no one owes anyone anything, where we all adopt what one of my readers called a "mercenary mindset." Even Gabriel, who has adopted the very cynicism that one of my older readers urged, says he misses the camaraderie he felt with his old team, back when he gave his job his all.

"It felt like we were all winning," he says. "I don't want the world to be like this. But now I know how this game works. So I'm going to play it to win it." He's come to the same conclusion as older, more experienced workers. They wish loyalty was still rewarded by their companies. But because they can no longer expect that, they've decided to adapt.

Perhaps the biggest lesson for me, based on all the emails I've received, is to stop pontificating on differences between the generations. But I can't help myself, so I'll hazard one more sweeping generalization: Maybe the biggest difference between older and younger workers today isn't how they feel about loyalty, as I originally posited. Maybe it's what they're doing about it.

The emails I got from boomer and Gen X and even millennial readers were tinged with a sense of resignation — a reluctant acceptance of the way the world is now. Gen Z, on the other hand, isn't quite resigned to that reality yet. From the office to TikTok, they're vocal about their displeasure with the state of work today. They believe that it doesn't have to be this way, and that they have the power to force their employers to change.

Some might call that naivete. Others might call it entitlement. But the older workers I heard from call it something else. They call it about damn time.

Aki Ito is a chief correspondent at Business Insider.

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Through our Discourse journalism, Business Insider seeks to explore and illuminate the day’s most fascinating issues and ideas. Our writers provide thought-provoking perspectives, informed by analysis, reporting, and expertise. Read more Discourse stories here .

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