Understanding Workplace Motivation

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Motivation In The Workplace

What exactly is motivation and why is it important in the workplace? Dictionary.com states that motivation is the act of motivating or providing a person with a reason to act in a certain way. Other terms which could be used are motive, inspiration, inducement, incentive, and cause. Motivation can be considered the driving force that compels a person to take action toward a desired goal.

Motivation comes from two sources: other people and oneself. These are considered to be extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. In the workplace, there are often misconceptions by employers who feel that the hours and the pay should be motivation for the employee to do better and reach higher goals. Most employees feel that these are just part of the job and gives them no added motivation to improve.

Motivation is not so easy to achieve. A CEO cannot just order employees to be motivated and it will just magically happen. That is not the way it works. Recognition is important, but it is not only about gifts and points. Changes in the corporate culture can help the employees to meet goals and help them to realize what the company’s values and beliefs are. Strategic recognition is visualized as a very important program.

Motivation in the workplace is a difficult subject, touching on several disciplines. Motivation is often not clearly understood, therefore leading to poor practice. Understanding motivation means that you must understand human nature. This is where the problem lies.

There are different theories regarding human nature and motivation in particular. Motivation is definitely the key to improving performance. Employees must be driven or motivated to do better. Are people born with the drive or motivation? According to the person, the answer to this question could be no or yes. But people can be motivated. Motivation is a skill that can be learned. For a business to succeed and survive, motivation of the employees is a must.

Over the years, different people have developed theories regarding the handling of difficult situations and difficult people. A few of these are:

The Adam’s Equity Theory

The workplace psychologist, John Stacey Adams published his Equity Theory, in the 1960’s. With Adams theory, when people feel they are being treated fairly or advantageously, they are more likely to be motivated. If they don’t feel they are being treated fairly or advantageously, they have feelings of demotivation and disaffection.

Similar theories such as Herzberg and others, all have subtle and variable factors that affect the individual assessment of the workers relationship with their employer. Adams calls what we put into our work as inputs and what we take out in return as outputs. His theory goes a lot further than that and doesn’t just assess effort and reward. It adds a crucial additional perspective of comparison with referent others.

There are employers whom assume that pay and conditions alone determine motivation. The Equity Theory helps to explain why these factors do not represent how motivated the employee is.

Human Givens Theory

This theory was developed by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell in 2003. Their book Human Givens presented the world with a new approach to clear thinking and emotional health. The ideas of this approach are not yet currently widespread, but are extending into the UK public workplace.

The basis of this approach is that all humans have physical and emotional needs and refer to these as “human givens.” It is thought that humans seek to meet these needs and if this is done, they flourish. This approach focuses on identifying any blocks that keep these needs from being met.

The emotional needs include:

  1. Attention
  2. Friendship
  3. Privacy
  4. Meaning
  5. Purpose
  6. Security
  7. Sense of control and autonomy
  8. Sense of status
  9. Sense of achievement and competence
  10. Being emotionally connected to others
  11. Feeling part of a wider community

Reviewing the list of emotional needs helps you to understand why this approach could be helpful with the motivation of employees. There is a Human Givens College with over 12,000 psychologist, psychotherapists, doctors, counsellors, social workers, teachers, police, clergy, youth workers, and more that help people to overcome depression, PTSD, OCD, phobias, anger, stress, and anxiety. These Human Givens courses are supposed to improve your outcomes and help prevent these problems from reoccurring.

Herzburgs Motivation Theory

The Herzberg two factor theory is a content theory of motivation. Herzberg actually surveyed 200 employees in 1959, asking them to recall things at work that had made them feel positive or negative and the reasons why they felt that way. Using this research, they provided a two-step approach to help understand employee’s motivation and satisfaction.

They found that one group of the 200 employees were dissatisfied and demotivated. This is understandable, because there are always some who are dissatisfied no matter what is done. But the middle group of employees were not dissatisfied, but neither were they motivated. They did their jobs but nothing else. Then there was the third group that always stayed positive, were satisfied and definitely were motivated.

With this theory, the two factors that were taken into consideration were hygiene factors and motivator factors. The hygiene factors help to avoid unpleasantness at work. If these factors are inadequate, they can actually cause dissatisfaction. These factors include such things as:

  • Working conditions
  • The quality of the supervision
  • Pay and other financial remuneration
  • The policies of the company and administration
  • The feeling of job security
  • Inter-personal relations

The Motivator factors are based on the employee’s needs, which they feel are necessary for their personal growth. When motivator factors exist, they actually help to create job satisfaction. If these factors are effective, they can help the employee to achieve an above-average performance and effort. These factors can include:

  • Responsibility
  • Gaining recognition
  • Advancement opportunity
  • Status
  • Stimulating and challenging work
  • Personal growth and a sense of personal achievement

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