Impact of Employee Motivation on Employees’ Performance

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Human motivation has been a matter of discussion and debate for social scientists and psychologists for decades. Recently, managers and executives have turned to motivation as a way of enhancing the performance and productivity of their employees to achieve competitive advantage (Davis, 2017). According to the resource-based theory developed by Wernerfelt, HR managers can incentivise the company’s employees to make them a primary source of competitive advantage, since ‘HR must work to align people strategy with firm competitive strategy and replace transactional HR practices with strategic practices’ (Davis, 2017, p. 9). Hence, the challenge for modern HR managers requires them to engage more deeply in the internal culture of the organisation and change it to fulfill the needs of the business and its strategic objectives. One element that can help them in this process is the comprehension of the relationship between people’s motives for work and the output of their efforts. This research aims to analyse literature on the topic of employee motivation and productivity and produce recommendations for organisations and HR managers.

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The most impactful theories of motivation emerged in the 20th century. Maslow introduced the needs theory in 1942, Herzenberg developed the two-factor model in 1959, and Vroom created the expectancy theory in 1964 (Nduka, 2016; van der Kaap-Deeder et al., 2017). Herzberg, in particular defined motivation as ‘as performing a work-related action because you want to’ (as cited in Nduka, 2016, p. 1). The motivation theory implies that there are two major elements of ‘motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic or internal and external’ Nduka, 2016, p. 1). Herzberg was the first one to introduce this distinction, although later theorists were able to define and study the two factors more in-depth (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl and Maude, 2017). Extrinsic factors, such as salary and benefits, can be controlled by the employer or manager. However, these factors are not always determinant in terms of productivity and best results, since intrinsic motivation has far more impact on an individual (Cho and Perry, 2012). This systematic literature review aims to examine the issue of employee motivation and the relationship between motivation and performance using the existing literature and research on the topic.

Research questions

  1. What is the effect of motivation on the performance of the employees?
  2. What are the factors influencing the motivation of employees?
  3. How extrinsic and intrinsic motivation influence employees’ performance?

This systematic literature review is a collection of information on employee motivation and performance from seventy articles, and all of them were used to conduct template research. The implication is that research results can be the basis for establishing proper HR practices in any organisation that aims to improve employee productivity. The rationale for this research project is the need to support the theory of employee motivation with the empirical findings and develop strategies that HR managers can apply to a workplace. The main objective of this dest-research is to find and analyse scholarly articles to address the issue of motivation in the workplace.


  1. Explore the link between motivation and performance in the literature
  2. Explore the relationship between different motivation factors, identified in the literature, and performance

Overall, this chapter introduces this research and the theory of employees motivation, as well as its applicability to the workplace. The research questions that will be explored through this literature review are presented. In addition, in this section, the importance of employee motivation as a source of a company’s competitive advantage and the role of motivation in improving the outcomes of work is discussed.

Literature Review

This chapter is a literature review containing a brief summary of the 70 articles and books used in this study. There are sections dedicated to each of the three theories of motivation – Maslow’s needs hierarchy, Herzenberg’s two-factor model and Vroom’s model. The final section is a summary of findings on how motivation is linked to performance and what managers can do to affect the motivation of their personnel.

The link between motivation and people’s performance has been established for a long time, both the practitioners and scholars recognise the value of motivation. The management handbooks, for example, by Alvesson (2002), Armstrong (2002), Daft (2009), Forgas et al. (2009), Goman (1991), Griffin (2006) and Lee and Saunders (2017) outline the necessity of addressing motivation of employees and its impact on performance. However, the research on the issue of motivation has been limited until the 1980s. Despite this, some of the most significant theories of motivation that are still used today emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, including Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzenberg’s two-factor model and Vroom’s expectancy theory (Nduka, 2016). Modern HR practitioners and theorists still apply Herzenberg’s theory because of the distinction between internal and external factors that can serve as a person’s incentive to do something.

The definition of motivation varies in the literature, depending on the study’s context. For example, from the perspective of an HR manager, it is the process of incentivising subordinates to complete tasks and perform better (Nduka, 2016). This process is completed by providing these individuals with a motive, which aligns with their unfulfilled needs and potential benefits for an organisation. Others, for example, Forgas, Williams and Laham (2005), define it as a system that compels one to act. Psychologists approach motivation as a process that provides purpose to one’s behaviour or a drive to satisfy certain needs (Nduka, 2016). Motivation can be defined in multiple ways, and in the most general terms, it means a strong desire to perform an action (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005; Pang and Lu, 2018). In some cases, motivation can be negative — a strong aversion to something, such as missing a deadline or not reaching benchmark. Alternatively, the lack of motivational factors or inability to meet the personnel’s basic needs may negatively impact their incentive to work. The definitions vary, however, all of them indicate a certain force that prompts one to act and a goal or a need, which a person aims to satisfy with their actions.

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The next important question is what the purpose of motivating employees since this factor is is very individualistic and may change over time. The underlying assumption supported by Amabile (1993) and Smith (1994) is that organisations depend on their employees’ motivation to work since it determines the company’s ability to survive and thrive (as cited in Nduka, 2016). Individuals with little motivation to work are more inclined to put little efforts into completing tasks and produce a low quality of work. Individuals who have a motive to work, on the other hand, can help their companies withstand challenges.

The assumption that an employee who is well-motivated will produce work of better quality has been proven empirically. According to Twalib, and Kariuki (2016, p. 421) ‘performance of an employee depends on the level of motivation they exhibit in addition to their skills.’ Hence, productivity is not solely dependent on one’s motivation and qualifications and professional qualities matter as well, however, motivation is one of the central factors. Additionally, the concept of rewards is another important element of motivation since both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is based on the expected reward. This research is a continuation and a synthesis of the existing theories of employee motivation and performance.

Considering the role of motivation for the organisation’s performance, it is important to note that not all motivation factors can be affected by the HR manager. The theory of motivation reviews the matter from two perspectives – internal and external, or intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. As a rule, an employer can only affect the extrinsic motivation – external factors such as salary, benefits, interesting tasks, teamwork, and others (Manukonda et al., 2019; Mitchell, 1982; Lee and Raschke, 2016). The intrinsic motivation, however, fully depends on the individual’s inborn qualities and character traits (Furnham et al., 1998). However, an organisation can affect the intrinsic motivation by providing opportunities for growth and development, for example, to attain an employee’s need for self-actualisation.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Model

The first model that examines different motivation factors determines two categories of workplace conditions that impact motivation. According to Herzberg’s theory, all elements of motivation can be placed into two categories – hygiene and motivation (Alshmemri et al., 2017). Notably, one factor can be either motivational or hygiene and cannot overlap into both categories. In addition, these factors cannot be approached as opposites of each other. Instead, an HR manager should understand that not having hygiene factors leads to dissatisfaction, while having motivation factors improves satisfaction.

The former category relates to basic necessities that will not contribute to employee motivation. However, if the workplace lacks these hygiene factors, the employees will be demotivated to perform. The motivation factors, in contrast, are elements that an employer can influence to encourage the employees to work harder. The theory was developed in 1959 and had several different names (Story et al., 2009). The conclusions were derived from 200 interviews that Herzberg held with employees, hence this theory was based on the feedback from the personnel, which helps better understand what factors they perceive as important and which ones can be overlooked.

Hygiene factors are the basic necessities that each employer should offer to their workers. Ganta (2014) notes that the following are some basic examples of hygiene factors – policies, supervision, relationships, conditions, salary, security, and remuneration. Without them, the employee will likely want to change jobs or will be demotivated to perform well.

The motivation factors are more complex and include achievement, recognition, responsibilities, ability to advance, the nature of work, and opportunities for growth. When combining Herenber’s and Maslow’s theories, one can conclude that hygiene factors can be compared to the based of Maslow’s pyramid and motivation factors are the ones that enable self-actualisation. Based on Herzenberg’s theory, the four stats were formulated, and the ideal scenario for a company is high hygiene and high motivation (Obiekwe, 2016; Obiekwe et al., 2001). In this case, the employees have all the conditions necessary for their development.

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Maslow’s Hierarchy

Maslow’s hierarchy is often depicted as a pyramid, with different needs a person has to satisfy in order to function properly. The theorist defined five core categories of needs that have to be satisfied in order for a person to be motivated, which are ‘psychological, security, social, esteem and personal development’ (Nbuka, 2016, p. 10). The hierarchy of needs implies that a person has an internal desire to work towards self-fulfilment and therefore to satisfy the needs from each category.

People are completed to satisfy the needs of each segment of Maslow’s pyramid. For example, when a person is hungry or thirsty, they will have the physiological drive to satisfy these needs — find food and water. Notably, at the top of the pyramid, there is ‘self-actualisation,’ which is a factor responsible for personal and professional development (Neelima and Koneru, 2019). A self-actualised person is a fulfilment of one’s potential and arguably, and employee that is self-actualised will perform better than the one who did not. At the bottom of this pyramid, there are some basic physiological needs – food, safety, shelter, and others. Some of these factors an employer can affect, for example, a decent salary will allow fulfilling the basic physiological needs for food and housing.

The pyramid, as a representation of Maslow’s theory, implies that as a person fulfils some of their needs, another level that requires attention arises, from lower-order needs to high order needs. If all of a person’s needs are fulfilled, they become motivated (Nduka, 2016). Maslow dedicated an entire pyramid level to a person’s self-esteem. Further research on this topic determined the link between one’s motivation and esteem, hence his theory has some implications for reviewing the two elements and their correlation. In Maslow’s view, esteem needs imply having respect, recognition, freedom and related aspects (Nbuka, 2016). According to der Kaap-Deeder et al. (2016), the research on the correlation of self-esteem and motivation remains scarce although studies on other aspects have proven the impact of this element on a person’s well-being. The authors’ empirical study allowed them to conclude that self-esteem is a predictor of achievement, for example, when examining the academic success of high school students. Hence, contingent self-esteem (CSE), or a person’s ability to meet certain internal or external criteria affects their perception of self.

Intrinsic Motivation

An employee’s motivation can be affected by organisation’s structure and strategy of talent management, however, there are some intrinsic factors that remain unchanged because they depend on an individual’s character, goals, experiences and other internal functions. Cho and Perry (2012) found that intrinsic motivation factors or those that are internal have an impact on turnover rates and work satisfaction. However, no correlation was established between intrinsic factors and performance, which suggest that this aspect of work is impacted by other domains of motivation. An opposite to this is extrinsic motivation, or external factors, such as workplace conditions, salary, opportunities and other factors that can prompt an employee to work better.

Extrinsic Motivation

Apart from the motivation theories, which mainly explore the intrinsic factors, attention should be dedicated to the benefits and workers compensation as a source of motivation. Güngör (2011) found financial rewards to be an essential factor in determining employees motivation. However, non-financial benefits are also contributing to increased employee motivation. For example, Yousaf et al. (2014) and Burton (2012) state that professional training provided by the hiring organisation increases motivation. One hypothesis explaining this is the positive relationship established as a result of cooperation between employees and managers. Findings of Mudiyanselage and Wijesundera (2018) also support the claim that financial rewards have a role in motivating people. However, here, it is necessary to consider the context – the type of economy, industry, salary size and others. This is because research by Rynes et al. (2004) has shown that after a certain sum, the financial gains do not affect a person’s satisfaction levels. Based on this, one can hypothesise that financial rewards have a psychological impact on an employee, such as improved happiness and motivation, until a certain point.

Vroom’s Theory

The expectancy theory implies that a person directs their efforts at maximising satisfaction and minimising pain. When applied to the workplace environment, this theory implies that a person’s performance and motivation are dependent on a set of personal and professional characteristics, for instance, skills, experience, knowledge and others (Nduka, 2016). Hence, ‘if an employee perceives that there is a correlation between their skills and performance, they work better’ (Cho and Perry, 2010, p. 10). Or, if their efforts towards work will result in a reward, which can satisfy one of their needs, which is worth pursuing, an employee will be highly motivated to work towards this goal. The primary elements of this theory are ‘valence, expectancy and instrumentality’ (Nduka, 2016, p. 8). From the perspective of this theory, managers should be aware of the rewards they promise, their ability to deliver what is promised and the valence, or emotional orientation towards certain rewards.

Correlation between Motivation and Performance

In general, this literature review allowed the author to find a large number of studies that support the claim that performance is directly impacted by one’s motivation. Bakay and Huang (2010) found that motivation affects individuals’ work outcomes. Cherian and Jacob (2013) explore the topic of self-efficacy, which is a person’s belief in their success. The authors claim that self-efficacy is important for motivation and performance since the correlation between the three variables exists. For example, Chiang and Birtch (2012) and AbdiMohamud et al. (2017) support the correlation.

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In one of the reviewed studies of healthcare workers, the authors concluded that the career development, ability to delegate some tasks and recognition for their work was amongst the factors that increase the motivation of healthcare employees. This study by Atambo and Ayaga (2016) is notable because it suggests that the characteristics of a profession – the environment, social perceptions, and well as the structure of work can be different depending on the industry and thus the motivating factors in each of these domains may differ as well. Finally, some evidence suggests that some companies succeed in establishing policies that promote the motivation of their employees, while others do not. For example, after examining different businesses, Koneru (2019) found that policies of the HR department and the leadership style were the key determinants impacting motivation.

Research Gap

Overall, the reviewed literature on the topic explores the connection between employee motivation and the outcomes of work. According to Desher (2016, p. 140), ‘the HR department of 20 years ago is long gone, and a more sophisticated, data-driven function has taken its place.’ Much more attention is dedicated to ensuring that the human capital works in an environment where staff members are encouraged to fulfil their potential and are motivated to work harder. The research gap, in this case, is the lack of recommendations for practitioners on how to use the different theories of motivation in real life. Moreover, one can argue that the majority of the research is dedicated to the extrinsic motivation factors, of what an HR and the executives of an organisation can do to improve performance. However, little attention is dedicated to the issue of internal motives or ways of surveying employees to determine these intrinsic factors. Hence, further research into intrinsic motivation can help improve HR’s ability to hire and retain highly motivated employees.

Overall, this chapter is a literature review on the issue of employee motivation and organisation’s performance as a result of different motivation factors. This systematic literature review consists of 70 articles, all of which are summarised in the Appendix of this paper. Further chapters will present the author’s analysis of the findings and a discussion of theoretical implications.


This chapter is a discussion of the methodology used to conduct the literature review. In it, the rationale for selecting this method, as well as a description of the search process and the criteria used for selecting the articles are discussed. The Figures that explain the process of systematic literature review that the author of this paper used are presented. Finally, this section is concluded with a discussion of the results’ reliability.

Research Methodology

This study’s methodology is a systematic literature review, which will be used for the analysis. The distinct feature of systematic reviews is the ability to analyse a topic by using different studies and cross-checking the results to verify some of the assumptions (Nurun Nabi and Dip, 2017; Marchington et al., 2016). More specifically, this research is a systematic review of literature, focusing on studies about employee motivation. Johnston (2014) defines secondary research or desk-based research as a collection of data from published sources. For this study, books, CIPD publications, and articles from Google Scholar are used. In this chapter, tables and analyses of the approaches taken to carry out this research will be presented.

Rationale for the Method

The benefit of secondary research is in the ability to synthesise information collected by multiple researchers on the topic of workplace motivation and synthesise it to cross-check the findings. The limitation, however, is the different parameters and variables used by the authors, which make it challenging to compare different studies (Rahi, 2017; Anderson et al., 2019; Lee and Sanders, 2017). Moreover, this approach implies the generalisation of findings, while primary data collection would allow one to collect information specific to an identified setting, for example, a healthcare organisation, a bank, or any other facility.

Systematic Search Process

Table 1 illustrates the findings of the systematic review process that was undertaken to find appropriate studies. The inclusion criteria include articles published in peer-reviewed journals, within the last 20 years, the topic of an article is either motivation theory or the impact of motivation on performance. There were several exceptions – books on managerial theory and fundamental works by the authors of motivation theory, for instance, Herzberg, which were included in this review or a paper by Mitchell (1982) where he summarises the up to date findings on motivation theorists. Exclusion criteria were the relevance of the study to the scope of the research, only studies that focus on employee motivation from the viewpoint of an HR manager were included or studies that explore the general topic of motivation theory.

Table 1. Search results

Key search string Database results (Google Scholar) Number of articles meeting the criteria Database results (Semantic Scholar) Number of articles meeting the criteria
‘Employee motivation’ and ‘quantitative study.’ 300 2 307 1
‘Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation’ and ‘quantitative study 500 1 305 3

Reliability & Validity of Data

To ensure that the results of the present study are valid and can be useful for organisations aiming to enhance employee performance, several precautions were taken. Firstly, the sources of data were selected carefully, only scholarly articles, books, or governmental statistics and other comparable publications were used. Secondly, to avoid using the outdated data, especially considering the changing role of HR management, only sources published within the past ten years were included in the analysis. Finally, the quality of the source, for example, the number of citations in other peer-revied articles, the inclusion of limitations and bias mitigation strategies were considered when selecting the sources. Figure 1 is the illustration of the criteria used to select material for this desk-based study.

Reliable sources of Secondary Data
Figure 1. Reliable sources of Secondary Data

Data Analysis

For the analysis of the information collected to examine motivation, the technique of template analysis, which is a method for organising data based on specific themes, was applied. For the purpose of this desk-based study, three categories of data were created — intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, basis of motivation, and impact of motivation on performance. Each of the mentioned themes was then divided into topics or sub-themes, which are illustrated in Figure 2.

Template analysis (King, 2012) is the method that allows a researcher to organise information from the literature review into sub-themes.

Figure 3. Topics and sub-theme

Theme 1 Theme 2 Theme 3
Basis of motivation Intrinsic and extrinsic factors Impact on performance
Sub-themes Sub-themes Sub-themes
  • Two-factor model
  • Maslow’s Pyramid
  • Vroom’s expectancy theory
  • Intrinsic factors
  • External factors
  • Motivation and improved performance

Figure 1 displays the key themes depicted in the research studies for this report.

Key identified in this systematic literature review
Figure 3. Key identified in this systematic literature review

Overall, this section is a discussion of the systematic literature review methodology, the inclusion and exclusion criteria and the reliability of this study’s results. The purpose of selecting a systematic literature review as a research method is a need to conduct an in-depth investigation of an issue – performance and motivation and look at both publications discussing the theory and quantitative studies.

Findings, Analysis, and Discussion

This section is dedicated to explaining and analysing the findings of this systematic review. The final section is a discussion of how HR managers can use the motivation theory in practice. This research project aims to establish a clear link between different elements of motivation and employee performance. In this systematic review, the studies that explore the theoretical foundations of employee motivation were explored to provide a basic comprehension of motivation and its link to the outcomes of one’s work. A number of studies were considered, which focus on motivation, financial, intrinsic external elements of motivation and different motivation theories. The eligibility criteria include the timeframe of the study and the application of quantitative methods.

A business’s primary objective is to ensure that the strategy for development is used by the employees since it allows making profits and delivering promised goods or services to the consumers. The core element of this task is an employee who is responsible for completing the work, and their motivation to do so determines the success of the firm (Saiyadain, 2004). Hence, this research aims to determine the ways in which employee motivation can be impacted by human resource (HR) managers and the impact that these actions can have on the outputs of work. Despite a plethora of research on the topic of workplace motivation, little is known about the impact that it has on the business’ financial performance, and the exploration of this issue is the key objective of this study.

Through a desk research study design, quantitative articles examining motivation were evaluated. In total, 70 were reviewed, apart from the literature review that helped determine essential motivation theories. The table in the Appendix is a summary of all 70 articles that were used to construct this literature review with an explanation of key themes and findings.

The two-factor model and Maslow’s pyramid were used as the basis of understanding the intrinsic and external factors (Staw, 1976). This research shows that the issue of motivation is one of the essential predictors of the employees’ work output. Hence, if a company manager can affect the motivation of the supervised individuals and improve it, the quality of work will improve as well (Suhasini, and Koneru, 2019). Through the systematic literature review, this research will demonstrate the benefits of leveraging employee motivation and will explore some of the core theories of motivation. Some recommendations for HRs and a personal learning statement are included, to reflect on the implications of this study and future opportunities of increasing employee motivation.

This research has shown that there are varied ways of approaching motivation theory, which may be problematic for the practitioners. According to Korneu (2016, p. 1), HR’s should pay attention to ‘internal communication system, trust among the employees, best HR/IR Policies by management, the leadership style of the management, goals of the individuals.’ This allows creating an environment of positive relationship within the firm and leverages some of the key aspects of motivation. Apart from this, the issue of employee rewards, outlined by Armstrong (2002), is also important, and as research suggests, financial compensation does not always affect the motivation positively. Another factor is the opportunities for development that one receives when working for a company – training and development plans.

The findings suggest that companies should ensure that they have the basic necessities, which help satisfy the hygienic needs, as outlined by the two factors model. Due to the fact that there is a correlation between one’s motivation and performance, by implementing policies that address motivation needs, the productivity of work should improve (Tate and White, 2019; Yukl, 2008). While hygienic factors do not help boost motivation, others can. Here, it is vital to note that both Herzenberg and Maslow paid attention to the opportunities for growth and development that a firm provides. The self-actualisation and motivation factor both emphasise the meaning of the non-material approach that leverages the intrinsic motivation of individuals to grow and develop professionally. This contrasts with the common belief that money is the central motivator for any employee. On the contrary, the non-financial factor may be more important than the financials if an employee finds value and meaning in what they do.

It is also vital to note the effects that improper motivation strategies and policies have on the employees and their performance. For example, Pawirosumarto et al. (2017) state that low motivation and morale leads to higher turnover rates. Apart from that, Phillips et al. (2011) state that it can impact absenteeism rates, which in both cases will lead to financial losses. In the case of absenteeism, one’s productivity is not affecting the company. Therefore, one benefit of addressing the motivation and concerns regarding employee motivation is to minimise the losses.

The role of leadership and HR managers in increasing performance by managing motivation is central. In essence, improper leadership, lack of support and a standard of work will have an opposite effect on the workers from the desired one – low morale, high turnover and dissatisfaction with work. From the perspective of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, HR should hire people who already possess sufficient internal motivation to perform well, as some element of intrinsic motivation cannot be impacted.

Perhaps, adopting a flexible approach to motivation is the best choice because as different findings prove, people’s motivation differs. In some cases, financial rewards and benefits are the most important while in others, recognition for the completed work may be central (Robbins, 2001; Otley, 1999; Obiekwe, 2016). As a result, an HR manager may struggle with using one motivation management system for all employees merely because some will be demotivated by additional benefits or burdened by training and professional development courses.

In terms of quantitative findings, several studies provide an outlook of the employee motivation and the link between this factor and performance. These studies demonstrate the implications of the theories of motivation to real-life conditions, how managers use the theory of motivation and the way the employees perceive these efforts. The synthesis of the quantitative findings in the Appendix and Table 3 shows the theoretical aspects of motivation allows the author to produce recommendations for HR practitioners that will be presented in thfollowing chapters.

Table 3. Literature review findings for quantitative data

Author Method Key themes/Result
Velnampy (2007) Employee survey The survey was conducted to test Maslow’s theory in a workplace environment. The author found that most subordinates emphasise the lower level needs, while executives and managers focus on high-level needs.
Sajuyigbe, et al. (2013) Employee survey The author surveyed 100 employees to determine whether pay, bonus, recognition or praise contributed to their performance and motivation.
Beeran (2005) Performance assessment, observation Most companies use one type of an employee bonus and one type of non-financial reward.
Vrancic (2015) Survey Three top-ranked non-financial factors (praise, attention from leadership and ability to lead projects) are more important than three financial motivators (cash, base pay increase and stock).
Haider, et al. (2015 Survey Among teachers, non-financial rewards play a more significant role in improving motivation and satisfaction with work.
Barton (2006) Survey Employee recognition was cited by most respondents as their preferred reward.
Singh, et. al. (2012) Survey This study examined the motivation for young employees and determined that prospects of career development are the most important to them.

To answer the research question of ‘What is the effect of motivation on the performance of the employees?’ the surveys from employees in different industries were examined, collected from the studies in Table 3. The collected information suggests that there is a correlation between job satisfaction and the type of motivation that employees expect. However, low-level personnel is more concerned with satisfying the needs from the base of Maslow’s pyramid, as opposed to managers and executives, who focus on esteem and self-actualisation. Next, for the question ‘What are factors influencing the motivation of employees?’, one can conclude that all three theories, Maslow’ pyramid, Vroom’s expectancy and Herzenberg’s two-factor outline what can impact an employee’s performance. Here, non-financial rewards appear to be the most significant in incentivising personnel to work better, however, different studies cite varied types of rewards. It can be assumed that the specifics of non-financial rewards depend on the organisation and industry and should be determined through an in-company survey.

Finally, the question ‘How extrinsic and intrinsic motivation influence employees’ performance?’ is the need of HR managers to focus of motivation in the form of recognition, opportunities or praise from the management. However, little attention in the literature is dedicated to the examination of intrinsic factors in particular. The results of surveys by Velnampy (2007) and Barton (2006) suggest that an expectation of an external reward serves as an additional motivation for workers.

This paper provides evidence to the idea that the performance of employees is directly linked to their motivation for work. Firstly, the findings suggest that organisations depend on their employees and the output of their work. As mentioned by Davis (2017), the resource-based view applied to HR management requires HRs to apply hiring and retention strategies that will maximise the potential and productivity of work of the personnel. This is very important in the contemporary diverse environment, where employees have different backgrounds, not only in terms of their personal characteristics and traits but also when examining culture and ethnicity. Hence, one conclusion from this review is that HR has to apply a resource-based view and treat their employees as one of the most valuable assets that their organisations have. In order to achieve this, motivation should be applied to maximise work efficiency.

As proven by empirical quantitative research by Sighn et al. (2007) and Barton (2006), employees that score higher on their motivation assessment scale produce better results. In terms of theory, this may mean that organisations they work for successfully satisfied their hygiene-related needs – work environment, policies, communication and others and managed to provide sufficient motivation for work. From the perspective of Maslow’s theory, the higher-level needs, such as self-actualisation appear to be an important motivation factor for employees. When examining theory and empirical research, it is difficult to conclude that out of the three core motivation theories, and one is superior to others.

Overall, this section is an analysis of the findings from the 70 articles and other publications about motivation theory and employee performance. In general, HR managers can use the reward and intrinsic motivation factors to improve work output. The implications for educators and practitioners are discussed in the following sections.


Overall, this research examines the impact of motivation on the performance of the staff, the factors influencing the motivation of employees and how extrinsic and intrinsic motivation affects employees’ performance. The aim of this desk-based study was to gather literature that focuses on the theory and empirical study of the motivation theory, in order to outline the ways in which managers can motivate their employees to work more productively. Hence, the first assumption that this study is based on is that higher motivation results in better efficiency, which was established by the theory of Abraham Maslow. In Maslow’s view, each individual has several sets of needs, each corresponding to a different level. Any individual works towards satisfying those needs, which can be food, respect or personal development. This internal desire to act in order to fulfil the needs at a certain level is one of the reasons why people can work productively — they have to satisfy their basic needs. This theory can help HR managers understand why job security or competitive salary is an important factor for employees, as these guarantee safety and ability to address physiological needs. However, higher-level needs are more complex and cannot be addressed with financial rewards only, and they require a specific company culture and establishment of career development opportunities.

The motivation of the employees is an integral part of organisational management. As research proves, employees whose motivation is high are more dedicated in their work and show better results, which allows their companies to withstand challenges and disruptions. As opposed to this, unmotivated employees harm their organisations by showing inadequate engagement and low productivity, and they do not strive to help their companies succeed. As a result, it is the primary task of an HR manager to help create an organisational environment where individuals are sufficiently motivated.

This factor contributes to the performance and the quality of work that the employees do. As such, managers, and especially human resource managers should pay close attention to the way their organisational environment affects the outcomes of work. This research allowed identifying some of the essential factors that have an impact on employee motivation, using the two-factor model and Maslow’s needs pyramid and Vroom’s theory. The two-factor model implies that an employer has to invest in establishing basic hygiene factors, to satisfy the general needs of the personnel, such as clear policies, adequate communication and som others. However, this factor only helps mitigate potential dissatisfaction with work, while motivation factors should be addressed to boost productivity and efficiency. Here, an HR manager should look at Maslow’s theory and Vroom’s model to determine the needs and conditions under which employees can perform better. For example, Maslow’s theory requires one to pay close attention to different types of needs, for instance, esteem or self-actualisation, which can be improved by offering employees training and career development opportunities Vroom’s theory, however, implies that employees’ expectations and a manager’s ability to deliver the promised are essential for productivity.

Therefore, this dissertation collected and analysed major motivation theories and outlined the key research that proves the link between work performance and motivation. Due to the fact that motivation is a multidimensional factor, as proven by the three theories studied in this research, one factor cannot be attributed to the ability to boost workplace motivation. As a result, HR managers have to work holistically and approach workplace motivation as a wholesome element of work that depends both on the organisation’s culture and on a person’s intrinsic motivators. Another aspect of this research is the need to establish hiring practices that will allow recruiting talent that already possesses a sufficient level of internal motivation in order to avoid potential issues in the future.

One factor to pay attention to is self-esteem since workplace attributes can only impact ‘esteem’ factor in the Maslow’s hierarchy, for example, through prestige or opportunities for development. Self-esteem, however, is a complex psychological concept that relies on a person’s characteristics and experiences, which an HR manager will be unable to impact. However, research proves that esteem, more specifically, CSE correlates with academic performance, and therefore, it is possible that low self-esteem can affect work performance negatively. There is a significant research gap here, since a factor such as self-esteem is a significant element of a person’s profile, yet little attention has been dedicated to it in academia. Another research gap is the understanding of intrinsic motivation and ways in which HR managers can survey it to design better company policies. In general, this research outlines the basis of motivation theory and examines the connection between motivation and performance.

Recommendations and Implementation Plan

Undoubtedly, modern HR managers work in challenging conditions where they have to be responsible not only for hiring workers but also for retaining them and improving the efficiency of their work. From the perspective of motivation, it may be difficult to create an appropriate company environment where employees are empowered to perform better because of the diversity and the plethora of factors that impact their incentives to excel (Davis, 207). However, based on the theory and the empirical research this paper offers some general recommendations and strategies for conducting an in-company research that will help address the issue of motivation and performance.

Based on these findings, several recommendations for practitioners were developed. The examined studies suggest that HR managers should understand the complexity of motivation and different dimensions of it. Although there is a link between motivating factors and performance, there is no one strategy that can help all firms improve the morale of their workers. It is necessary to remember that financial incentives are not always perceived as valuable by the employee, in fact, sometimes they may hinder performance. Hence, it is better to assess the factors that can be an incentive to perform better for the employees of a specific organisation, especially considering the fact that there is a difference in motivational factors between executives and other personnel (Velnampy, 2010). In this case, the first group will be motivation by the non-financial rewards, such as opportunities for the development and career prospects, while the second group will be more attuned to receive better financial compensations or benefits. This suggestion can be used as the basis for the organisation’s policy regarding rewards.

Based on this research, several recommendations for HR managers and companies will be presented. Firstly, HR managers should strive to comprehend the needs of their employees, keeping in mind that these are individual factors that differ from person to person. This assessment can be completed using questionnaires, similar to those used in research by Sajuyigbe et al. (2015) and Velnampy (2010) and other authors. The second step is to examine the organisations’ environment and determine whether it satisfies the basic hygiene needs, for example, are there clear policies for the employees, is communication with management clear and is the work environment pleasant and provides the personnel with everything that they might need (Story et al., 2006). The two-factor theory implies that employees expect the company to offer them some basics, such as policies, security, salary, supervision and conditions of work. Without the basic hygiene factors, the employees will have a distinct dissatisfaction with their work, and there is a little chance that their performance will be satisfactory, according to research by Story et al. (2006) and others. Hence, apart from having a policy for financial and non-financial rewards, an organisation must ensure that the company has the necessary hygiene factors. The next element of the two-factor model implies that to improve satisfaction, and a manager has to work on enhancing the company’s motivation factors.

Vroom’s theory should be applied, since the employee’s perception of what they can achieve, the benefit of the reward and their idea of whether it is worthy of achieving this are the essential elements determining if they will work better. Here, a manager who constantly promises to improve work conditions or to provide more benefits and does not deliver the promise harms the organisation, since the personnel begins to perceive all potential motivation-related promises as false. Therefore, another recommendation is to pay attention to the expectations of the people in the firm and the ability to adhere to the promises.

Finally, non-financial rewards require special attention from the management. In accordance with Maslow’s theory, once a person can satisfy their basic needs for food, shelter and security, more advanced needs become important. These are respect and perception of a job and the ability to develop as a professional. These factors, unlike salary and benefits, are more complex and can be addressed only if an organisation is determined to create a positive environment where employees are praised and provided opportunities to talk to their leaders and lead projects themselves. This can be addressed by encouraging the management to work on improving their communication with subordinates.

Personal Learning Statement

Over the course of this desk research study, I have expanded my knowledge of human resource management and effective practices that I can apply to ensure that my organisation reaches its objectives by leveraging its human capital. As learned through this research — motivation is a basic component that determines how well an employee can complete their work, and there are some motivational factors that an organisation can influence. The findings of this research will help me improve my understanding of workplace motivation and consider the variety of factors – including opportunities and basic necessities, such as communication, when working. Moreover, I think that this research is valuable for me professionally, since I will be able to address my motivation and work on the intrinsic factors, to advance my career.

When I chose this topic, I was particularly interested in how to affect intrinsic motivation, since this factor is unique for each individual. My motivation was to understand how I can improve my personal productivity through motivation and how this experience can be used to establish an environment where employees are driven to achieve more. Moreover, having the experience of burnout and dealing with high turnover rates at my organisation, I understood that other elements of the HR function, for example, strategic planning or talent management, are hindered by a lack of attention dedicated to motivation.

From my experience, I knew that financial motivation, although considered as one of the central factors by most managers I have encountered, affects employee performance only partially. During my work, I witnessed people high-paying positions for other jobs. When asked about the motives, the former employees would refer to a lack of interest they had and a desire to achieve more, which was difficult for me to understand at first.

Understanding this gap in comprehension and a desire to ensure that top-level employees are happy and engaged in their work, I tried to conduct objective research and gain a wholesome understanding of what factors are essential for employees and motivate them the most. I tried to address this by in-depth research into the literature and quantitative studies of some of the essentials in motivation theory – Maslow’s needs hierarchy and Herzenberg’s two-factor model. Next, I focused on the research that provides quantitative data to establish whether efforts of leveraging and affecting different motivation factors are indeed successful.

The role of HR managers has transformed drastically within recent years, and one has to become a leader and a professional qualified to implement talent management practices and strategies that will affect the company’s culture. Similarly to Desher (2016, p. 140), I perceive HR managers as change agents, since ‘HR function still has a tremendous task in front of it in terms of becoming true agents of change transformation.’ As a result, I think that it is an obligation of any HR manager to understand their employees and become leaders in transforming organisations to ensure that the staff is well-motivated. Contrary to the opinion of some individuals, I think that motivation does not rely on an individual, nor is it the responsibility of an employee to look for new strategies that would enhance morale and work engagement of themselves and their colleagues.

Both as an HR manager and as a learner, I have encountered some difficulties. For example, working with large amounts of information was a challenge, since I wanted to get information that is accurate and comprehensive. I had to set limits to the number of studies I can review and include in the research. Here, collaboration with a supervisor was helpful since I received valuable insight on how to carry out this project properly. Moreover, because through this project, I received quantitative data proving that employee motivation can be enhanced, I can create a plan for my organisation and support some of the strategies I offer with data. This information should help me convince the upper management that the strategy is worth investing in and implementing as it will contribute to the organisation’s performance.

Some steps I want to take to address these gaps in the future are:

  • Watch a TEDx lecture titled ‘Perfectionism holds us back. Here’s why’ on procrastination and Perfectionism and make notes (Haversat, 2015)
  • Complete Coursera’s ‘Work smarter not harder’ time-management course and pay special attention to setting realistic goals and overcoming procrastination caused by Perfectionism (Work smarter, not harder, no date)
  • Create a plan that will incorporate my studies, work, and personal arrangements to ensure that I can dedicate time to each of these domains and perform my work responsibilities at a high-quality level

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