Employee Motivation

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The concept of work motivation has become very crucial to individuals and organisational success, Hence the reason why several researchers, theorists and scholars have sought to understand and determine what actually motivates people so as to build a productive and effective workforce. Simon et al (2010). Human beings are seen to be the most valuable asset of any organisation because without people, machines cannot operate themselves; neither can operations nor processes fall in place on their own without the involvement of personnel. Saari & Judge(2004) suggest that “a happy employee is a productive employee”. This implies that there are certain factors which bring about this happiness that could increase the overall performances of employees in organisations. This work intends to identify what actually motivates employees at work in order to increase their productivity. Therefore, it explores the concept of motivation and provides an analysis of the traditional motivation theories with particular emphasis on Maslow’s need theory and Vroom’s expectancy theories of motivation. In addition to explaining the various views of these theorists on the concept of motivation, it aims to critically review the employee motivation theories, evaluate their implications and ascertain their relevance in practice.

Motivation is defined by Robbins (1993) as the “willingness to exert high levels of effort towards organizational goals conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need”. This implies that the satisfaction of individual needs contributes to the sets of behaviours they exhibit in an organisation. Similar to this definition is that of (Denhardt et al., 2008, p.147) who opines that “Motivation is an internal state that causes people to behave in a particular way to accomplish particular goals and purposes. It is possible to observe the outward manifestations of motivation but not motivation itself”. This means that the way individuals behave is dependent on an internal factor that moves them to do so, and these behaviours are dependent on their desire for certain achievements. Buchanan & Huczynski, (2010) believe that a well motivated work force determines the success of any organisation because well motivated staffs tend to put in their best at work and yield high quality results and performances than unmotivated staff. Therefore, organizations who desire to achieve high level performance through its employees should focus on how employee needs can be satisfied. INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION

Thomas (2002) suggests that motivation can be classified into intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation which involves psychological rewards one gets as a result of love for ones job and extrinsic motivation which arises as a result of economic rewards and other benefits one gets on the job. He further asserts that intrinsic motivation is more of a key factor in performance than extrinsic motivation because while intrinsic motivators make work more fulfilling, extrinsic motivators tend to focus on rewards rather than the work itself.

The history of motivation theory dates back to 1927, with the emergence of the Hawthorne studies conducted by a Harvard business School professor, Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger who examined the impact of physical, environmental and psychological factors on the productivity of employees in the workplace. They went on with another experiment on an incentive based work system after which they withdrew and Vroom made the first attempt to formulate his Expectancy theory. Locke (2004). Work motivation theories can be categorized as ‘content’ and ‘process’ theories which are explained below. CONTENT THEORY

Theories of motivation based on drives and needs are generally known as content theories (Norhia, et al, 2008).This means that the unsatisfied needs of individuals spur them to exhibit...
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