Employee Incentives: Bringing Motivation


Managers should ensure employees are motivated if the organization they lead is to achieve its goals and objectives. Motivation is the psychological process that arouses and directs people’s goal-directed behavior (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022, p.512). Various motivational theories offer different perspectives on how employees should be inspired. The content theories state that people are motivated by needs that must be fulfilled. Some common content theories are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s two-factor model, McClelland’s acquired needs theory, and Deci and Ryan’s acquired needs theory.


Process theories state that motivation is caused by psychological and behavioral processes that make a person act in a particular manner. Examples of process theories include the expectancy theory, which suggests that employees are motivated by their level of interest in achieving a particular goal and their perceived likelihood of achieving it. The goal-setting theory can be categorized under process theories and states that challenging, specific, and achievable goals motivate behavior (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022). A good reward in today’s work environment is not enough and should be combined with other motivating factors. A study conducted in 2019 found that career growth opportunities were more critical to job seekers than financial compensation (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022). Therefore, managers need to focus more on their workers’ overall job satisfaction rather than on rewards.

Employee incentives play a pivotal role in bringing motivation and driving their performance. Three types of incentives can be awarded to employees; monetary, non-monetary tangible, and non-monetary intangible (Idowu et al., 2019). Some examples of financial incentives I could use include; paid vacations, sharing of corporate profits, gifts such as Christmas or birthday, project bonuses, and warrants. For non-monetary tangible incentives, I could give vouchers for food, coupons, and vacation trips. Examples of non-monetary incentives that cannot be touched on that I could use are verbal appreciation for good work, positive feedback, and evaluations, among others.

For compensations and incentive plans to be successful, they have to be given in a manner that will motivate the employees. One way I can achieve this as a manager is by offering rewards consistently for every small achievement. This method of giving prizes is known to yield better results when compared to providing a lap sum reward once a year. Another way to ensure that compensation plans produce the desired results is to offer health-related incentives. I could do this by providing a comprehensive healthcare insurance plan as a healthy workforce is a productive one. I could also offer incentives based on the output but would be careful not to trigger employee burnout.

Intrinsic rewards are more important to me than extrinsic rewards. These intangible rewards offer a sense of achievement and accomplishment. This argument is consistent with studies that show intrinsic rewards elicit positive reactions among workers, making them continue improving and lasting positive behavioral change (Ryan & Deci, 2020). Having flexible working hours is the most valuable reward I could be given; this shows that I prefer intrinsic rewards. This is so because sometimes I am not in the right emotional and psychological state to perform work to the required specifications. It is also the most significant reward an employer could give me because I value having a good work-life balance.

A well-balanced individual is motivated by achievement, power, and affiliation. According to McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory, the need for achievement makes employees take on complex tasks, want to be rewarded for their accomplishments, and receive both negative and positive feedback (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022). Power can be personally exhibited by successful leaders where there is a great urgency for an employee to dominate over the others. It can also be institutional power characterized by an effective leader who emphasizes the organization’s growth and is characterized by problem-solving. Finally, the people who seek affiliation demonstrate behaviors that seek social approval from those around them. People who prefer affiliations fit in some specific jobs such as sales and marketing.

Frederick Herzberg hypothesized the two-factor theory after doing a study on accountants and engineers. Herzberg found that employees are satisfied when “there is achievement, recognition, work responsibility, and advancement called motivating factors” (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022, p.521). Work dissatisfaction was mainly associated with the working conditions, pay, policies, supervision, and the nature of the relationships called hygiene factors (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022). According to Herzberg, hygiene factors motivate people by avoiding dissatisfaction with the goal of keeping the working conditions right (Kinicki & Breaux, 2022). However, I believe that hygiene factors can be used as motivators. For instance, recognition, a motivating factor, could be achieved by offering good pay, good working space, and eliminating supervision.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs could be used to explain the bravery and courage demonstrated by healthcare professionals in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The doctors showed that they achieved the two stages at the bottom of the pyramid, the physiological and safety needs (Hale et al., 2020). The professionals also had achieved love and belonging and wanted to gain respect, esteem, and status (del Castillo, 2021). They also sought self-actualization and wanted to earn as much as possible to help humanity (del Castillo, 2021). It could also have been that the doctors had skipped the lower stages of the hierarchy and sought to achieve esteem and self-actualization

McClelland’s acquired needs theory states that needs are learned; therefore, healthcare professionals seem to have discovered the role they are supposed to serve. According to the argument, one desire often dominates over the others (Bhattacharya & Mittal, 2020). The need to perform their purpose and help those in need overshadowed the want for safety, and therefore the healthcare professionals were able to work in risky conditions. The scenario of doctors going out of their way during the pandemic could also be explained using Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination theory. The fact that professionals increased their determination without tangible motivators demonstrates their focus on intrinsic motivation.

Healthcare workers had to deal with many equity issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the challenges the workers dealt with was equity considerations surrounding language access (Dodds & Fakoya, 2020). Some people could not use a language understandable to the professionals, and the lack of translators worsened the situation. Another issue that arose in the case surrounded immigration and documentation statuses (Liu et al., 2020). This problem caused delays in medication for critical patients putting the professionals in charge at risk. There were also equity considerations for the professionals concerning gender (Profeta, 2020). People of particular genders were denied care as some hospitals only handled people of a particular gender (Profeta, 2020). This consequently led to increased costs for these people in search of medication.


Healthcare workers were also faced with the issue of how to handle the LGBTQ+ community as some people, especially the transgender. The healthcare providers faced a challenge in properly classing and attending to this group prudently. Additionally, the professionals had to consider people affected by certain issues, such as chronic illnesses, which forced them to focus more on some patients than others. People of lower financial classes had to be given low-quality care, and the professionals had to work under limited budgets to serve this group. Ethnic minorities were also at a greater risk of disease and death since they could not have proper and timely access to medication.


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del Castillo, F. A. (2021). Self-actualization towards positive well-being: combating despair during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Public Health. Web.

Dodds, C., & Fakoya, I. (2020). Covid-19: Ensuring equality of access to testing for ethnic minorities. Bmj, 369. Web.

Hale, A. J., Ricotta, D. N., Freed, J. A., Smith, C. C., & Huang, G. C. (2020). Comparing 2 adapted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs frameworks on physician wellness. The American Journal of Medicine, 133(9), e532-e533. Web.

Idowu, H. A. O., Soyebo, K. O., & Adeoye, E. A. (2019). Incentives as correlates of employees’ loyalty towards management in organization. African Journal of Business Management, 13(12), 407-414. Web.

Kinicki, A. & Breaux, D. (2022). Management: A Practical Introduction. 10th ed. McGraw Hill Education.

Liu, Q., Luo, D., Haase, J. E., Guo, Q., Wang, X. Q., Liu, S., Xia, L., Liu, Zhongchun, Yang, J., & Yang, B. X. (2020). The experiences of health-care providers during the COVID-19 crisis in China: A qualitative study. The Lancet Global Health, 8(6), e790-e798. Web.

Profeta, P. (2020). Gender equality and public policy during COVID-19. CESifo Economic Studies, 66(4), 365-375. Web.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2020). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 61(1). Web.

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BusinessEssay. "Employee Incentives: Bringing Motivation." November 19, 2023. https://business-essay.com/employee-incentives-bringing-motivation/.