Employee Motivation and Its Role in Organizational Performance

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Employee motivation is considered one of the main factors that influence the performance of the whole team, department, and organization. There are a plethora of factors that increase or decrease subordinates’ motivation. The role of a good leader is to assess these factors and decide what meaning they have for employees as in different working environments demands could vary significantly. Leadership and management experts elaborate on different theories that stem from the analysis of behavioral patterns among various employees and utilize them in order to boost the capacity of their team members to perform to the best of their abilities. Given the abundance of factors theories and strategies in the sphere of employee motivation, it is vital to research their interdependence to be able to create a perfect environment for workers.

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The role of motivation in organizational performance is immeasurable. A properly motivated employee could contribute to the goals of the company more effectively if they believe in what they do and understand their role in the organization. The qualitative study conducted by Khan (2012) showed a positive correlation between motivation and performance. The researcher measured employee encouragement in the form of the recognition of their contribution, better working environment, and stimulation of creative effort. All these forms of motivation proved to be effective drivers of stable performance on both organizational and personal levels.

There are cases, however, when people are motivated from the start and require no additional stimulation. For example, sole proprietors are driven by their long-nurtured idea of opening their own bakery, repair shop or restaurant. Such people often believe in themselves and in their venture and do not need to be further incentivized to perform at full capacity due to high levels of self-determination. In large organizations with many employees, motivation becomes more important because not everyone sees why they need to contribute other than for personal material benefits. If the tasks are poorly understood, and the final goal of the project is vague, then outstanding results could hardly be expected (Chaudhary, Rangnekar, & Barua, 2012). Motivation, in that case, serves as a factor that drives the team to explore and be proactive. There also can be an opposite situation when the goal is straightforward, and the framework is well-developed, but the team does not seem to be eager to perform. Here the motivation becomes a factor that can inspire people to fulfill their duty with passion. Both cases, however, require different kinds of motivation.

According to Reeve (2014), motivation consists of three basic concepts: direction, persistence, and intensity. Depending on the task and the angle, from which motivation is stimulated, one of the three aspects could dominate. The most difficult task in a team leadership setting is to make all three factors work. A manager is a person who is often responsible for that.

The role of managers in employee motivation cannot be underestimated. A team leader is a person, whose goal is not only to hand out tasks and oversee the project until it is finished but also to make sure that it is successful. There is more than one way to reach that goal, but according to researchers in the sphere of management and leadership, one of the best ones is to keep employees motivated (Naile, & Selesho, 2014). In the environments where employees are not financially motivated to achieve better results or, in other words, their salary is not linked to their work outcomes the role of a manager as a motivator cannot be stressed enough. As it was stated earlier, the kind of people who are motivated from the start, understand the purpose of their effort and have clear goals often opt for self-employment. Most people in organizations do not have those qualities from the start and, therefore, they need help to build them. The closest person in the company who engages at the basic level of its structure is a team leader. They are often the only people, who can convey the organizational goals to team members. That is why a manager’s role as a motivator is essential.

Management theory witnessed various approaches to motivation. One of the most well-known psychological theories that are often used in the business environment is Maslow’s pyramid of needs. It refers to basic human needs as drivers of all their activities including work (Skelsey, 2014). Therefore, to motivate employees properly, the work environment has to address all or most of their basic needs. According to Herzberg (2008), there are two major factors that influence employee motivation: achievement and recognition. This correlates with Maslow’s theory and further develops it in the organizational setting. Apparently, people want their job to satisfy their need for superiority and the desire to be praised by others. Another prominent theory that provides valuable insight into workplace motivation is McClelland’s Theory of Needs. It places at the top of the pyramid three basic needs: achievement, power, and affiliation (Royle, & Hall, 2012). This seems to resonate with previously mentioned theories, which adds to the validity of each.

Contemporary team management theories focus on self-efficacy, reinforcement, equity, and expectancy. Self-efficacy is based on the person’s belief in his ability to successfully operate. In application to management, this could be utilized as a form of self-motivation that needs only to be encouraged and rewarded. Reinforcement theory considers the environment as the most crucial factor in forming people’s behavior. Therefore, the right setting could channel an employee’s efforts in the right direction. Equity theory in its relation to motivation could be interpreted as fair and even exchange of resources between workforce and company. In other words, a contribution should be rewarded proportionately. The expectancy paradigm is based on the belief that each person believes in certain outcomes of his efforts. The theory recognizes three types of interconnected binary relations between effort and performance, performance and reward, reward and personal goals.

There seems to be a close correlation of all these theories in various aspects. Their application to management and motivation building could be achieved by taking the best out of every one of them. Maslow’s theory explains the basis of human behavior and a person’s needs, McClelland narrows them down to employee’s goals in the organization. All contemporary theories underline one or aspect of the workforce-company relationship and need to be used in combination. In summary, to achieve proper employee motivation, an organization should encourage their self-development, provide an adequate and friendly environment, ensure sufficient reward, and recognize their efforts.

There are different motivational strategies that managers can utilize to attain subordinates to perform willingly and effectively. In accordance with theoretical implications, there are several ways that the outlined dimensions could be improved. As for self-development, an organization could encourage job rotation practice. It helps boost motivation by letting team members switch tasks and enhance their skills in new spheres. A friendly environment could be achieved by encouraging team buildings as an organizational measure that helps managers and employees develop personal connections. Researchers note that the rates of pay do not impact employee motivation as significantly as it is usually believed in organizations. However, the value placed on that factor varies depending on the country’s living standards, age, and qualification (Pilukiene, 2015). Many payment schemes could be used including, merit-based, performance-based models, profit sharing, and others. Effort recognition could be achieved by various methods ranging from collective congratulation from management and parties upon successful project completions to ‘employee of the week’ boards.

It is noteworthy to mention that there is no universal solution for every company. Any mentioned strategy could either benefit or harm motivation depending on the type of organization, cultural or individual differences. Culture could also play a significant role in determining what motivational needs employees prioritize. Thus, in developing countries rates of pay could be a more significant motivation factor than, for instance, organizational culture (Ismail & El Nakkache, 2014). This could be explained from the standpoint of Maslow’s theory. It states that physiological necessities form the basis of the pyramid of needs. In developing countries, some of the primary resources like food and water could be scarce. Consequently, sufficient payment rates could be the most significant motivating factor. Therefore, a proper analysis of organizational strengths and weaknesses in various motivational domains is needed. All the mentioned spheres, however, should be addressed to a sufficient degree in order to achieve a well-balanced model of management.


All things considered, employee motivation is a significant factor that contributes to organizational performance. A properly incentivized team could achieve notable results and be a valuable asset to a company. Such assets should be both formed and retained by managerial methods. A combination of different sociological, psychological, and managerial theories outlines several significant domains of motivation such as self-development, working environment, reward, and effort recognition. All these spheres should be properly organized to ensure an employee is totally satisfied and motivated. A plethora of strategies could be used to tackle motivational issues including job rotation, team buildings, salary bonuses, and organizational recognition of efforts. The choice of appropriate measures should depend on the culture, type of organization, and personal qualities of an employee.


Chaudhary, R., Rangnekar, S., & Barua, M. K. (2012). Relationships between occupational self-efficacy, human resource development climate, and work engagement. Team Performance Management, 18, 370-383.

Herzberg, F. (2008). One more time: How do you motivate employees? New York, NY: Harvard Business Review Press.

Ismail, H., & El Nakkache, L. (2014). Extrinsic and intrinsic job factors: Motivation and satisfaction in a developing Arab country-the case of Lebanon. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 19(1), 66-82.

Khan, M. I. (2012). The impact of training and motivation on the performance of employees. Harvard Business Review 7(2), 84-96.

Naile, I., & Selesho, J. M. (2014). The role of leadership in employee motivation. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(3), 175.

Pilukiene, L. (2015). Students integration into the labor market: Formation of the motivation, salary needs and expectations. Global Journal of Management and Business Research, 15(1), 1-15.

Reeve, J. (2014). Understanding motivation and emotion. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Royle, M. T., & Hall, A. T. (2012). The relationship between McClelland’s theory of needs, feeling individually accountable, and informal accountability for others. International Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 5(1), 21-42.

Skelsey, H. (2014). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – The sixth level. Psychologist, 27, 982-983.

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BusinessEssay. "Employee Motivation and Its Role in Organizational Performance." November 22, 2022. https://business-essay.com/employee-motivation-and-its-role-in-organizational-performance/.