Motivation Theory in the Workplace
It is the responsibility of managers to ensure that employees remain productive always. Motivation is one of the ways through which managers can make employees productive all the time. As such, work motivation refers to a psychological process that entails the cultivation of positive attitude of the employees towards their work. Basically, motivation entails tapping the mindset of the employees while finding out more about their ideas of the workplace (Rothberg, 2004). Motivation is a force that influences the behavior of a person, effort level and persistence level of a person. According to Simpson, motivation refers to factors that direct and energize patterns that are organized around a specific goal (1977). According to Luthan (1998), the behavior of an employee is determined to a large extent by the motivation level. When employees are motivated, they are committed to what they are required to do.
The production and behavior of employees reflect motivation. The effectiveness and efficiency of employees are important assets since motivated employees give higher productivity. Their work is of superior quality and wastage is minimized. Motivated employees have an urgency sense. Retaining motivated employees is also easier than retaining employees who are not motivated. This reduces turnover of labor in an organization. Motivation is important for any organization since it cultivates work’s interest (Simpson, 1997).
Several theories that explain employees’ motivation have been developed. However, the concentration of this paper is on the ERG theory. ERG is an acronym for Existence, Relatedness as well as Growth. Clayton P. Aldefer notes that these are the needs of the employees (Aswathappa, 2005). To develop the ERG theory, Alderfer modified the hierarchy of needs theory by Abraham Maslow. On the basis of the Maslow’s theory, people work with an aim of satisfying their needs that include food as well as psychological needs that include self-esteem. Maslow introduced the phrase “hierarchy of needs” in order to show the source of motivation among humans. According to Maslow, there are five categories of needs that follow a progression principle. Maslow noted that the needs at the higher order are satisfied after the needs at the lower order are satisfied. The needs at the lower order are basically the human needs.
The categories of different needs according to Maslow are self-actualization, esteem needs, social needs, security and safety, as well as psychological needs. This theory faces limitations and criticism. For instance, there are cultures in which social needs are considered more than other needs that Maslow indicated that they must be satisfied first. Later, Alderfer developed the theory through an article that focused on psychological review under the title, “An Empirical Test of a New Theory of Human Need”. In this article, Alderfer compressed the needs in different categories into three sets: Existence, Relatedness as well as Growth needs.
Ideology behind ERG-theory and employees:
Some of the psychological needs are safety and physiological needs that include security, sex, thirst, and hunger. This category is made of the basic human needs. Employees need sufficient resources so that conflict can be avoided. According to Thomas (2009), employees are not motivated if enough resources are not provided in an organization. Therefore, managers ought to ensure that work tools are always availed to employees. Employees are intrinsically motivated by the provision of a cafeteria that offers lunch for free or at low rates and clean drinking water.
Workers should not leave the premises of an organization to get food and water outside. This leads to not only time wastage but also boredom among the employees who may at times prefer to work without lunch and this decreases productivity. Security is also included in the existence needs. If the premises where employees work from are prone to attacks or terrorism, productivity of the employees will be low. In the contemporary society, a company can enhance security by installing CCTV cameras. Any modern organization should take care of both internal and external insecurity risks.
The organization should avail equipment that includes fire extinguishers as well as warning signs. According to Lunenburg and Ornstein (2012), safety needs can be classified as the needs for protection against threat, deprivation and danger. The safety needs of the employees are satisfied by several factors that include job security, fair regulations and rules, safe working places and freedom of forming unions.
Employees affiliate themselves with external environments that provide interaction with customers, friends and families. These people comprise of the relatedness needs of the employees. According to Malick, the way employees interact with the other people, get public recognition as well as feel secure around these people determines their effort level while working (2011). The efforts that employees put while working are also affected by the internal workplaces of an organization and this also affects their motivation level (Malick, 2011).
Employees who are uncomfortable with workmates will always look at their watches and they are always the first individuals to leave the organization’s premises when the working time is over. While outside, the employees feel prestigious if the company that they work for has a positive recognition. The management should therefore ensure that their organization has a positive corporate image since this will also boost the morale of the employees because they will be proud when they are identified with their employer. Communicating with subordinates effectively helps in the creation of rapport between the staff and the managers. Managers can enhance motivation by providing relevant information to subordinates regarding the effects of their acts towards others (Olajide, 2000).
The working morale is improved by recognizing the efforts of employees. According to Lutheran (1998), recognition of employees can be achieved via promotion, good pay, hanging names on the wall or rewarding the employees in the list of the best performers. Recognition can be achieved by offering good salary to employees. This enables the employees to buy clothing, shelter and food (Malick, 2011).
Alderfer categorized growth needs as the third category of human needs. When leaving the organization, employees should be transformed. They should be improved persons in regard to their skills, personal and social growth. Self actualization and internal esteem are some of the growth needs of the employees. As such, employees’ growth should be cultivated by the managers who should ensure that employees acquire work ethics and better skills (Hoffman, 2007).
The Strength of the theory:
The essence of motivating employees is elaborated by ERG-theory. This theory explains that everybody has unique preferences and weaknesses. Managers ought to know the needs that employees have at certain times. Managers should also know what motivates their staffs individually. It is important to motivate new employees so that they can remain within the organization longer. This is important because it assists in getting and maintaining employees who have the best talents and skills.
According to Nisen (2013), employers who are clear in their communication motivate their employees. This is very important in satisfying the relatedness needs of employees since it reduces uncertainness. Managers should be motivated first in order to motivate their employees. Workers are challenged when they notice the enthusiasm of the employers. Thus, they also become enthusiastic. A predictable employer incorporates empathy and trust among employees (Jameson, C. & Jameson, J., 2008). To achieve this, an employer has to define and clearly explain the expectations, objectives and vision of the company (Jameson, C. & Jameson, J., 2008).
According to ERG-theory, the focus of employees will eventually turn to fulfilling and accomplishing the vision of the company. Motivation gives an employee the desire to remain productive, creative and also to come up with goals and meet them. It also enables the employees to ensure that they have the necessary skills for accomplishing different tasks. This is achieved by training the staffs to ensure that they are updated on the latest technology and that they have the necessary information. Information sharing leads to positive pressure among the peers. Staff members engage in positive competition (Tella, Ayeni & Popoola, 2007).
Weaknesses of the theory:
Though motivation enables the employees to improve their productivity, the employer has most motivation. Although some employees are motivated, they are never ready to perform their duties. Such employees must be pushed in order to work. However, this theory states that when motivated employees will work. This theory does not recognize that motivation as a personal effort that an employee must cultivate. Additionally, the employer might be unable to identify the needs of every worker at a personal level as depicted by this theory.
Improvement and future of motivational theories:
It is important for managers to understand the motivations of the employees since there are different things that motivate different people. According to ERG theory, managers should know that there is no single thing that motivates everyone. Therefore, they ought to take motivation as a form of individual development scale (Robitaille, 2011). As such, this theory aims at identifying ways that can be used by managers in handling motivation at personal levels. To achieve this, managers should manage weak performers vigorously and recognize all staff members fairy through extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Managers also ought to consult with subordinates while making certain decisions.
Different stakeholders have the ideas that an organization needs (Rothberg, 2004). Employees feel that the organization is using their potential when the company recognizes their contribution. Motivating employees who do not have skills may not provide much assistance to the organization. Job experience and motivation play a vital role in the development of commitment and this enhances productivity (Irving, Coleman & Meyer, 1997). According to Miller (2012), equitable rewards, proper use of the skills of the employees and supportive working environments have a direct relationship with performance.
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