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Motivation at work

Janardhana Siddhartha Saladi

University of Minnesota

Executive Summery

Motivation energizes individuals to be more productive and efficient; Organizations should

accept the fact that motivation should be part of the fundamental process of the organization.

There are a lot of motivational theories which are categorized into three categories which are

internal, external and process related. Three types have different factors which affect motivation,

in which most motivational factors may be classified into two categories which are Motivation

Factors and hygiene factors. These factors help in determining job dissatisfaction and job

satisfaction and also insist that not having one does not directly mean the other, for example not

having job satisfaction does not mean job dissatisfaction and vice versa. Origination should also

empower employees to meet higher needs and have greater job satisfaction by identifying best

practices for motivation at work, which in turn benefits the organization with enhanced

performance. Finally, organizations must also consider the motivational problems which can

occur at workplace based on the different work environment and work culture and try to

eliminate the caveats.

Work Motivation

Motivation is the process of evoking and sustaining goal-directed behavior. Work motivations are

energetic forces that drive you towards work related activities. The organizations should always

understand the work environment to encourage productive behaviors. Motivational theories can

categorize into internal, external and process categories. Internal motivation is from intrinsic

factors, people believe the work they do is for a cause, people are passionate about the work they

do or the work they do might align with their moral values.


External motivation is from extrinsic factors, something like rewards, appreciation, and

appraisals. Extrinsic factors tend to dominate intrinsic factors. Process theories mainly focus on

how the motivation can be sustained going forward in a process.

There are some theories for work motivation

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Motivationhygiene theory

McClellands Learned Needs

Needs Hierarchy Theory

ERG Theory

Need for achievement

Equity theory

Expectancy theory

Now lets discuss some important theories of motivation and see how they can be used to

improve work motivation at the workplace.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow believed people are motivated to achieve some needs, once a certain need is fulfilled

they seek to meet the next need which can be categorized into five motivational needs which

depicted in a hierarchical level. These needs are Physiological Needs, Safety Needs,

Belongingness Needs, Esteem Needs and Self-Actualization Needs.


Figure 1 courtesy

Figure 1 clearly displays how motivational needs are categorized with examples of each; Basic

needs like physiological needs and safety needs tend to motivate people when they are not met.

Once the employees have all the basic needs, then they seem to be driven by psychological needs

and once the psychological needs are met workers tend to be motivated by self-fulfillment needs.

Maslow's had categorized these essential requirements in a very simple way, when I look at the

place where I work, we never had free coffee before, and about six months ago my manager

came up with the best employee of the month concept. Whoever gets the employee of the month

gets free coffee for the next month and also a gift card for 50 dollars which was a motivational

drive for many employees and employees worked hard to achieve the employee of the month

awards and this also developed a healthy competition among employees. The same concept

might not be a good motivator at a workplace like google where employees getting free food and

free coffee or a gift card might not be sufficient motivation factor for them as they are already

enjoying the benefits of free food. This clearly shows that once people are satisfied by one

category of needs the categories up the pyramid act as motivational factors and it also depends

on the existing work environment and needs that are being met there.

Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Motivation Factors include elements like achievement, responsibility, recognition, advancement,

and the work itself and when present they assist in improved performance by the employees at

work hence absence of these factors will lack satisfaction but will not lead to dissatisfaction

Motivational factors when present increase job satisfaction. Hygiene Factors include technical

supervision, company policies and administration, salary, interpersonal relations with the

supervisor, working conditions, and status and dissatisfaction at workplace occurs when the

hygiene factors are not met or not at all present. Hygiene factors avoid job dissatisfaction.

Considering some of the motivational factors at workplace environment, I used to be an engineer

when I started working for Robert Bosch after I worked there for two more years, I was asked to

lead a product development team, and this was a real motivation factor to me. I was given the

end to end responsibility for a product. This made me more responsible and encouraged me to

prove myself to the management that I was the right person to do the job which was assigned to

me. This also encouraged me to improve the process and performance of the team which I would

have never been able to do if I was an engineer in a team but making me responsible for a team

motivated me to put in more effort to improve the team and achieve better results. To add to this,

I was recognized by my manager for my work in managing the team in a year-end review

meeting which further motivated me to work hard for the team. Considering the workplace

environment hygiene needs are a must to avoid job dissatisfaction, but the motivational needs

will help employees to boost their performance and job satisfaction.


Alderfer's ERG Theory

The ERG theory mainly focuses on three needs which are Existence relatedness and growth; it is

also somewhat related to the Maslows hierarchy theory. Initially, people have existence needs,

and then they move on to needs like interpersonal needs and finally towards growth needs. ERG

theory simplifies the needs into a small number of categories and then broadens on each need.

The main difference between Maslows hierarchy theory and ERG theory are that ERG

emphasizes that people can also be motivated by multiple needs in different levels, not like

Maslows hierarchy theory in which needs are progressed from level to level. It also

acknowledges the fact that each person is different, and their needs change according to the

environment they belong to. If the needs at higher levels are not satisfied, the person gets

frustrated and gets back to the lower levels of needs.

McClellands Learned Needs

The McClellands Learned Needs Theory mainly focuses on the need for achievement, need for

affiliation, the need for power and these three are the main factors which drive humans. Need for

achievement who are also called Achievers seek frequent appreciation; they tend to avoid tasks

which have not much gain and also tasks that have the high risk of failure. The need for power

who are power seekers need control of others. They dont care about appreciation or approval

from others. Need for affiliation that is alliance seekers look for the relationship with other

people as the most pressing need. I see myself in the category of need for achievement as tasks

which have reliable target motivate me than tasks or projects with soft objectives and goals, so I

often tend to take more challenging tasks than jobs with regular functions with less scope for


Job design as motivation

Job design can also be one form of workplace motivation in which Job Simplification, Job

Rotation, Job Enlargement, Job Enrichment are the main factors. In job simplification the job is

simplified into smaller tasks which will help people to focus on smaller chunks of work more

effectively at a given point of time Job rotation is a process in which individuals with multiple

skills in a workplace change their job duties and responsibilities in rotation basis which will help

motivate and increase productivity. Job enlargement is a process in which employees are given

additional responsibilities and allocated additional task which helps them to be away from

boredom and help enhance performance. In the process of job enrichment individuals are given

their responsibility and also the freedom to choose their pace. Empowering people to meet higher

needs at workplace will boost work satisfaction and increase productivity at workplace.

Employees should receive information about the companys performance which will help them

understand how the company is performing against its competitors, how the company can react

towards market requirements and also help give the employees the bigger picture of the work

they are working on. Employees should also have the knowledge and skills to contribute towards

the companys goals if not the companies should help employees with the training sessions to

acquire the skill set required work towards companys goals which will boost productivity and

efficiency. Companies should give employees the power of decision making which will make

them more responsible than leaving all the decisions to upper management. Rewarding program

for employees should be very strong which should, in turn, motivate employees to contribute

more efficiently and effectively towards their work, work and employee incentives should go

hand in hand.

Motivational Problems

After discussing all the factors around motivation, there are also some motivational problems.

Employees do not believe in performance and effort, so there will be no effort by the employees

to Enhance performance. Employees do not believe in the relation between performance and

rewards, either they think that the rewards do not add much value to them, or they believe they

are too hard to achieve them. The third category of employees do not even have a desire for the

rewards offered as they mean nothing to them; hence the rewards dont affect the way they work.

I come across motivational problems in the place I work too, I have seen all these three

categories of people at my workplace, once the reward is set they may interest some they may

not interest some we can never have a one size fit all model. Having rewards which are in the

benefit of the majority might boost performance and motivate people.


Motivating its employees is the most important task for organizations and managers, there is

never a one size fits model or motivation factor for all the employees at an organization. It is

important managers and agencies understand the motivations factors of workplace based on the

environment, location and needs of the workplace and motivate employees to enhance

performance and boost productivity. Organizations also take it into consideration that motivation

is not a one-time thing they have to make it part of the process and make sure they improve and

adapt to changing conditions. Once motivation becomes the part of the process, organizations

can realize a lot of benefits from the motivational processes.



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