Employee Motivation Introduction

According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, a motive is "something (a need or desire) that causes a person to act." Motivate, in turn, means "to provide with a motive," and motivation is defined as "the act or process of motivating." Thus, motivation is the act or process of providing a motive that causes a person to take some action. In most cases motivation comes from some need that leads to behavior that results in some type of reward when the need is fulfilled. This definition raises a couple of basic questions.

The performance that employers look for in individuals rests on ability, motivation, and the support individuals receive; however, motivation is often the missing variable. Motivation is the desire within a person causing that person to act. People usually act for one reason: to reach a goal. Thus, motivation is a goal directed drive, and it seldom occurs in a void. The words need, want, desire, and drive are all similar to motive, from which the word motivation is derived. Understanding motivation is important because performance, reaction to compensation, and other HR concerns are related to motivation.

Motivation Defined

Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested in and committed to a job, role, or subject, and to exert persistent effort in attaining a goal.

Motivation results from the interactions among conscious and unconscious factors such as the
(1) intensity of desire or need,

(2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and
(3) expectations of the individual and of his or her significant others.

Many contemporary authors have also defined the concept of motivation. Motivation has been defined as: the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction (Kreitner, 1995); a predisposition to behave in a purposive manner to achieve specific, unmet needs (Buford, Bedeian, & Lindner, 1995); an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need (Higgins, 1994); and the will to achieve (Bedeian, 1993). For this paper, motivation is operationally defined as the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals.

"Psychological forces that determine the direction of a person's behavior in an organization, a person's level of effort and a person's level of persistence." G. Jones and J. George from the book "Contemporary Management."

Features of employee motivation :
  • Motivation is an act of managers
  • Motivation is a continuous process
  • Motivation can be positive or negative
  • Motivation is goal oriented
  • Motivation is complex in nature
  • Motivation is an art
  • Motivation is system-oriented
  • Motivation is different from job satisfaction

Why is motivation important?

People are a core business lever any successful business enjoys today. The soft aspects of the workplace, its employee engagement, culture, values, policies, etc. contribute significantly to attracting and retaining the best talent. And this study clearly points to the tremendous upside, which companies that effectively appreciate their employees can enjoy – a higher return on investments, equity and assets.

While most employees value appreciation at their workplace they don’t seem to get it quite often, only 41% employees feel they are appreciated at their current place of work, the study reveals.

Nearly 90% of India Inc. employees say they will stick around longer if they feel appreciated for their work reveals a study by TimesJobs. The study, which surveyed more than 1,600 employees, further reveals that 82% employees are willing to work harder if their bosses appreciate them.

Companies should ensure this by appreciating, recognising and rewarding your employees. It is a highly effectiv
e and proven strategy for improving employee engagement and business output. Therefore, creating a formal structure for employee recognition is very important

An industry-wise analysis shows that 87% IT, telecom, ITeS and internet employees don’t get much appreciation from their bosses. Nearly 75% employees in automobile sector and 70% in BFSI sector said no to any sort of appreciation from their bosses. However, manufacturing and retail sectors seem to be quite appreciative of their employees with 52% of its staff claiming there is enough appreciation from their bosses.

A gender-wise analysis shows that 85% male and 63% female employees feel there is not enough appreciation from their boss at work. While about 62% junior level, 80% middle level and 50% senior level employees claim a lack of appreciation at workplace.

Employers need to actively engage with their current and future employees, and positive reinforcements are the best way to ensure a powerful employer brand. Open, transparent and responsive communication both on formal and informal channels is key to success – active use of digital media, social networks and company reviews sites all play a major role in ensuring an attractive employer brand

70% employees feel acknowledged when given clear opportunities for promotion

It’s not a tough task to make employees feel valued at work. About 70% employees say that they feel appreciated if offered career advancement opportunities at their workplace. For 44% appreciation lies in regular rewards & recognitions, 37% find the best form of appreciation is in a pay raise while 22% feel valued when given a more challenging work profile, reveals the study.

Nearly 20% employees say they feel appreciated when allowed flexibility options, such as work from home & telecommuting. And 11% say more authority in decision-making makes them feel appreciated.

While a sustainable competitive advantage can be achieved by simply keeping employees happy, employers in India, have a long way to go, only 22% employees said they received appreciation every time they performed well last year, while 60% employees say they had rarely been appreciated for their good work last year. A further 18% stated they were never appreciated.

From the above analysis we can understand that majority of employees i.e. 70 percent gave priority to clear opportunities for promotion on career advancement opportunities. Only 37 percentage of employees bothered for pay hike.

Other interesting insights revealed in the Study -

On appreciation practices at their workplace:
  • 52% feel their boss appreciates co-workers more
  • 22% feel their boss appreciates employees who are new to the system
  • 19% feel their boss appreciates employees who have more experience
  • 7% feel their boss appreciates female workers more
On having a formal employee appreciation and recognition program:

63% employees say they have no such program at their workplace
37% employees say they have a formal rewards & recognition program in their company

On having a metrics to assess recognition efforts: 72% say there is no such measure for assessing recognition efforts in their company 28% say their company does not have an assessment mechanism in place for evaluating the impact of recognition efforts
ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 02, 2016,
You can have a lovely shiny car, but it’s worthless if it doesn’t have the power of a great engine behind it. Your employees are the engines of your organization and like any finely tuned engine your workforce to operate smoothly and effectively. The fact is employee motivation is directly linked to business profits, and the more self-motivated your employees are, the more differentiated and successful you will be as a business.
  • Motivated employees look for better ways to do a job. 
  • Motivated employees care about their customers
  • Motivated employees take pride in their work.
  • Motivated workers are more productive.

Motivating factors

motivating factors are drivers of the human behavior related to the intrinsic nature of the work, but not necessarily to the surrounding circumstances or environment. Motivating factors include achievement, advancement, autonomy, personal growth, recognition, responsibility, and the work itself.

The "Hawthorne effect" refers to improvements in worker productivity or quality that results from the mere fact that workers are being studied or observed. This observation came from studies carried out at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant during the late 1920s. The experiments validated the idea that people are motivated by additional factors rather than by purely economic factors.

Facts [+]
Peter Drucker argued that people with highly developed skills or expertise can give their best only through self-motivation, not guidance from above. He forecast that with the rise of 'knowledge workers', firms would tend to become flatter. He was proved right.

Investment banks, which have a high concentration of knowledge workers, have very few levels.

"Corporate Meetings and Incentives" magazine is the senior executive's guide to decision-making. CMI explores trends in management, motivation, and incentives as they relate to how organizations successfully communicate with employees.

Multi-generational Employee Motivation

The modern workforce now includes employees spanning three distinct generations. While all employees are inherently different despite age, differences between these generations do follow common themes– each has its own knowledge, strengths and weaknesses. Managers must know how to work with them all to maintain a successful business. If you understand a little bit about each group you will appreciate what motivates them to maximize their output, leading to fulfilling opportunities for everyone.

Baby Boomers

(Baby boomer is a term referring to a person who was born between 1946 and 1964.)
Economists predicted that this period would be partly defined by baby boomers retiring en masse. However, as a result of the recession, many have either elected or been forced to extend their careers. Their concerns about their financial future and desire to retire, therefore, should not be taken lightly.

Although they are loyal, if you want to keep hold of them make them feel valued. Their experience is invaluable, especially when you have a workforce full of enthusiastic, but often erratic millennials.

While they’re still around, take advantage of their strong management skills and work ethic to help train your younger employees. Facilitate the passing of knowledge between generations, but remember that baby boomers tend to be independent, so let them do so as they feel comfortable. You shouldn’t worry about giving them too much freedom – baby boomers tend to be overachievers.

Generation X

Gen X employees are technologically and internet-savvy, having seen modern technology introduced during their youth.

Many of this generation grew up without heavy parent supervision so as a result, also tend to be unafraid of working independently and taking risks. They’re also entrepreneurial so trust them to find inventive solutions to business problems and this will help your business’s agility in this ever-changing world.

However, GenX is the generation of instant gratification and they believe in a good work-life balance, so make sure they have the freedom to strike that balance or they will seek it elsewhere.

Generation Y

Apart from the baby boomers, GenY has been affected most by the recession. They make up the biggest proportion of the workforce, but also by far the biggest proportion of unemployed people in the US (48% in 2013).

They are pragmatic and hard-working, but they are jaded by the recent economic downturn and its effect on their job-search. They aren’t as loyal as previous generations and are open to new challenges. Provide ample opportunities in-house to progress or to further their education to avoid losing staff to your competitors.

In addition to personality differences, managers may have issues with the generational spread because they feel that this generation simply does not have the same set of skills as previous generations. 66% of businesses are still owned by Baby boomers, but most of their staff are statistically millennials and this clash of ideas and skills may cause conflict. Remember, a business’s expectations should be managed based on the makeup of its workforce as much as the whim of its owners.

Generation Z