Motivation at Work Places: Employees Behavior

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Motivation is an internal drive in an organizational setting that intends to satisfy unsatisfied need and the employees must have the will to achieve the goals. Employees behave in a purposive manner in order to achieve specific unmet needs which drive them to accomplish personal and organizational goals (Lindner, 1998). For effective running of the organization, manages need to regularly motivate employees. Motivation is achieved by effective management and leadership. I choose to research on motivating employees are work place because employees are human beings and should be respected with dignity irrespective of social backgrounds.

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The essay therefore researches on methods of motivating employees to be more productive and how managers can device creative motivation methods. Motivation is the key to performance improvement as people will only work when they are motivated to. Motivation is very essential to any organization as it helps employees survive and succeed in the competitive world (ACCEL, 2008, p.1). I choose this topic of motivation in work places as managers have not taken their time to understand what exactly employees need to be motivated as they are still clinging old methods and theories and do not keep up with the current economy. As the economy changes, the motivation needs changes as well, and employers should work hard to keep up with this.


Performance entails function of ability and motivation therefore job performance is the product of ability and motivation. The ability to execute work highly depends on education, experience and training (ACCEL, 2008, p.1). Managers have been relying on old methods and theories of motivation such as salary increments and failed to sustain employees to work place. In this research I explore other motivation methods that are less costly that employers should consider using including recognizing employees’ birthdays, giving chocolates and showing appreciation.

Every employee has a number of needs that can only be achieved through satisfaction. These needs are very competitive and managers need to invest a lot of time in providing employees with conducive environment and good communication in order to know what exactly motivates them. The motivation should start by treating employees fairly, implementing effective discipline and punishment, positive reinforcement, setting achievement goals, satisfying employees’ needs, reconstructing jobs and offering rewards to job performance. In my research development, we look at a number of motivation theories but none of them has claimed to be general theory of motivation.


There has been an existing gap between individuals actual state and managers desired state. The gap can only be reduced by motivation. Motivation should be able to manipulate workers in a specific way towards achieving specific goals as stated by the company. Essentially, motivation system must comply with the corporate policy of the organization and must suit the particular situation and the organization. In a study carried out on employee motivation in Minneapolis Gas Company to determine what employees desire the most from a job, the ratings placed security on the top as the highest motivator followed by advancement then type of work and last a company to be proud of. Benefits, pay and working conditions rated low according to this research. Therefore money is not the primary motivator as people always believe (ACCEL, 2008, p.1).

According to Lindner (1998), employees have five different levels of need that stimulates their motivation namely safety, psychological, ego, social and self actualization. Some motivations are given first priority than others but both are essential to employees’ motivation. Motivation can further be divided into two broad categories, motivators (intrinsic) and hygiene (extrinsic). Motivators include achievements, job satisfaction and recognition, whereas hygiene include pay and job security. Intrinsic and motivators have a longer lifespan as compared to extrinsic rewards.

Vroom theory stipulates that employee’s effort will lead to performance which will in turn stimulate rewards. Positive rewards motivate employees to perform while negative ones discourage them. Normally, employs always strive to equal themselves with other colleagues and this sets a fair environment for competition. Equity should be the scoring ground for all the employees. This routine leads to positive behavior outcomes that when repeated produce productive results. Positive behavior should be reinforced by managers through motivation and negative ones discouraged. Positive reinforcement can be done through employee reward system (Lindner, 1998).

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Motivating incentives such as job enlargement should be used by managers to make work interesting thereby motivating employees. Job enlargement means increasing number jobs and introducing a variety of duties to be performed. Job enrichment entails adding more responsibilities to work to make it more interesting and increasing monetary compensations. Manager should therefore design motivation program that incorporate all these needs. Effective rewards system should be able to identify, recruit, employ, train and retain productive work force (Lindner, 1998).

Knowing what motivates employees and creating a culture that advances high morale and motivators are very essential in any organization set up. Incorporating the latest motivation programs into the organization to improve performance only work as a short term solution and fail to diagnose the real problem. Solution to improved morale and motivation includes integrated approach stimulates the creation of high morale and motivation culture. The culture will then be created by integrating management practices that will enhance employee motivation.

Top down management philosophy should be encouraged to effectively communicate employees’ expectations, draw clear performance standards, feedback and communicate the available growth opportunities. Integration is very important in creating motivating work force as it encourages consistency throughout the organization and quickly constructs any positive momentum that occurs. Without integration, positive momentum within the organization becomes disabled (Giensen, 2007, online).

All employees opinions should be put into consideration as this simple gestures highly motivate their morale. For example, if supervisor’s decisions are always turned down by his immediate boss, tension arises making him loose motivation. Introduction of great benefits program will have little effects to the organization when there is tension among employees and managers.

Managers are required to practice what they ask their employees to do. For example, a supervisor who preaches value-added customer service should practice the same theme when interacting with junior employees. When he does otherwise, contradicting messages de-motivate employees’ morale and often results to employees detachments. Integrated organization should be aligned with management practice and clarify roles and responsibilities to which employees and managers play in the organization and provide frequent and fluent communication channels. Employees should be made to understand their role in making the organization successful and therefore their motivation will be directed towards fulfilling organizational goals (Giensen, 2007, online).

Many people perceive money to be a motivating factor and its not the case. If an employee doesn’t like the work or the way they are treated, they really don’t care how much they pay after all. Motivating factor to get employees to perform their best is to appreciate and recognize their efforts. Money may be essential factor in motivating employees perform at high levels but they only maintain that position when the organization recognizes them which signals the work well done.

Employees can be recognized from hard work through the use of rewards. Rewards system to award hard working employees should be based on individual preferences. Employees show disparities in work performances and should be rewarded according to their efforts. For example, workaholic employees should be warded by showing appreciation either than giving them a day off as they would think they must have done something wrong. Employees should be encouraged to work with each other and identify what they think would be the suitable reward for their colleagues (Sanow, 2009, online).

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The management should also design reward system based on achievement to recognize employees who have done exceptional work like contributed an idea that has saved the company money. The reward should be given to employee immediately a desired behavior is done as a long waited recognition do little to motivate them (Sanow, 2009, online).

Many supervisors are still researching on ways to make work more productive. Motivating their entry level staff seems to be current trend. As Clark (2008) discovers, motivation does not entail generous salaries, remunerative stock options and three day work week. Oprah Winfrey new motivation method that entails giving her employees new cars and trips around the world is very motivating. It calls for creativity to devise new motivator to employees for an organization with tight budget. Motivated employees have inner strength that motivates them to provide excellent work as they rely on their own resources to get work done.

On the other hand, unmotivated employees all they want to do is get work done, they don’t really care about the outcome. You can not force employees to be motivated but supervisors should take up the role by providing a contusive working place that will encourage employees make decisions on what needs to be improved and the appropriate motivations that will encourage them to work better, deal positively with workers and award recognition for hard work.

In 1998 poll results, it was founded that 9 of 10 employees will work harder for the organization that showed interest in their growth outside work. These statistics should be a baseline to what employers use to devise motivation methods. Employers should also discover employees’ interest and use them to motivate them. For example, if an employee loves gardening, he should be appreciated by a gift of small plants. This way they get what they love the most and become motivated.

Meaningful conversation is beneficial to an employee as it makes them feel part of the organization family. For example, a manager could ask about the employee’s family like how the son did in the basket ball tournament. Clark (2008) also suggest that employee motivation should go as far as offering brown bag seminars and the speaker asked to give presentations that relate to children activities such as summer camps or non-wok related topics like giving tips on how employees could sign up for continuing educational classes. Motivations should include acknowledging employees’ birthdays make them feel special and become motivated.

Future Motivation Trend

According to University of Kansas psychology department research on employees motivation, the studies revealed that recognition stood at the top of the list as a strong factor in motivating employees with high potential. Employers should start practicing employee recognition as it’s the cheapest motivating factor that does not involve huge budget. Paychecks given to employees should include little thank you note stating exactly what the manager appreciates about the employee, for example, if the employee come to work during weekends or he went out of his way to execute an exemplary duty, he should be appreciated as they take pride in knowing that managers acknowledge their extra efforts.

Staff meetings could begin with public praise for recognizing employee’s extra efforts in completing certain tasks. For example the meeting could start with “Jennifer came in as substitute on incredibly short notice”, therefore I would like to acknowledge her efforts by giving her a submarine sandwich (Clark, 2008).

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According to American Express survey on employees’ motivation preference, 46 percent of employees said that they preferred personal feedback while 32 percent chose financial rewards as their motivating factor. As per this statistics, the majority preferred feedback, the company should invest in good communication system that facilitates feedback communication on a regular basis. In another study of 22,000 shift workers, 70% of them admitted to lack of proper communication system between them and the management.

Communication could take simple gestures like asking employees how they are doing at work when passing by the hallway. Director of Quinault Beach and Casino in Washington State, Tim Van Houten, recognizes personal example to be motivating factor among employees. He says that eye contact, smile, name recognition, concern for internal and external guest and caring are very important motivating employees (Clark, 2008).

In entry level, employees usually start working at minimum wages with long working hours. The organization should therefore recognize little efforts employees do to complete certain tasks by appreciating them in front of other colleagues. The Tower Perrin poll survey of 250,000 employees, 48 percent admitted that their bosses never paid attention to their opinions. Chocolate is always perceived to be a great motivator, managers should try and give to an outstanding performer whenever he does an exemplary work. CEOs should also try to take a break from executive castle zone and mingle with employees. He could take some time off everyday and gather his staff for a snack break. The meeting done occasionally opens channels of communication that motivates employees (Clark, 2008).

Employees should always be informed on the events happenings in the organization and rumors and gossips should be discouraged as they de-motivate employees. One of the staff members should be selected to sit in the interview panel when selecting new employee as it helps him learn job interviewing skills. Employees should be asked questions like what they would do help perform the job better and their suggestions incorporated into the working system and use their opinion in drawing motivating factors (Clark, 2008).

Theory of Hierarchy of needs by Maslow and the Dual Factor Theory by Frederick Hertzberg are the two motivating models that seems to define employee motivational factors but have not fully gained popularity in our modern industry. Maslow in his theory argues that the nature to satisfy human needs follow a hierarchical order. Some needs are more prepotent than others and until they are satisfied, the other needs may seem less important. He continues that more pressing needs should be given first priority to less pressing ones.

He classifies most prepotent needs according to the following hierarchy as;

  1. self-actualization which entails employees doing their best;
  2. Esteem as attributed from self respect and recognition;
  3. sense of belonging is very important as it helps employees feel accepted and part of the employment family;
  4. safety that include physical safety and psychological security are also important, lastly,
  5. physiological motivation such as hunger, thirst and rest. These needs decreases as one moved upwards (Kelly, 2005, online).

Physiological needs are classified to be last on the list but according to Maslow, it’s the most prepotent of all needs. Essentially, you will need to get fed, satisfy your thirst and rest in order to get the strength and esteem to move to the next level of motivation which is physical safety and psychological security. Safety level entails income, lifestyle and relationship the employee has with the organization and once they are fully satisfied, an employee then gets concerned with being a member of some group, a need for affiliation and feeling of acceptance.

When an employee feels that he belongs somewhere, he remains motivated by a desire to be held in esteem. Employees need to be appreciated as it makes them feel worthwhile. They often fill cut off from the organization that does not show appreciation of their efforts. From Maslow’s theory its evident that without fully satisfying one level of need, the next higher one does not even emerge. Therefore the most basic need must be satisfied before exploring the higher level need (Kelly, 2005, online).

Frederick Herzberg’s Motivational and Hygiene Theory tries to redefine satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the work place contrary to what earlier researchers had defined. He explains that satisfaction comes from motivating employees through rewards system. In this theory he researches on key factors affecting employees and identifies physical surrounding, supervisors and the company to be contributing factors towards un-satisfaction of employees in the work place. Therefore the theory of Hygiene was developed from these factors. Hygiene theory explains that a worker needs to be happy hence productive, therefore environmental factors must not cause discomfort. Workers get motivated through feeling responsible for as this makes them get connected to the work. Managers should take up this role by motivating employees through giving them authority over the job and effective feedback system. Herzberg argues that hygiene theory if applied affectively can prevent dissatisfaction and if poorly applied, employees can have negative attitude towards the job de-motivating the worker. Motivating factors should involve a challenge, the ability to extend the employee to the fullest, let to taste the pleasure of what they have accomplished and feel recognized of having been done something worthwhile (Kelly, 2005, online).

All the motivating approaches we have seen above can be classified in four categories namely; human resources approach, human relations approach, traditional approach and contemporary approach. Traditional approach is what we have seen in Frederick theory of scientific management, reward system reflects quality and quantity of work produced. Human relations approach defined social environment to be shaping the work place. This theory classifies social needs to be more important than money in motivating employees. The study then concluded that paying attention to employees needs leads to greater efficiency, a strategy that managers should pay maximum attention to. In human resources, employees become motivated to do their best with supportive work place.

The nature of work should be competent to give employees equal opportunities towards achieving the organizational goal. Contemporary approach entails three theories. The first theory emphasizes on the individual’s needs, the second one influential behavior and lastly reinforcement theory forcing on employee learning desired work behavior. Managers should provide learning environment through supporting higher learning and offering training opportunities (Kelly, 2005, online).


Managers should know what motivates employees and incorporate it into the rewarding system. The management should have clear channels of communication in order to enable employees tell managers what motivates them and managers design rewards system that specifically addresses the issue and motivates them. Oprah Winfrey’s idea of motivating employees with exotic gifts and luxury vacations it an outstanding idea that managers need to emulate but they should not strain their budget on something they can not afford. Managers should rely on creativity on rewarding their employees. Little things such as chocolate, flowers and praise are cost free motivating factors that employees need the most. Entry level employees should feel like their efforts are being recognized by appreciating their efforts and hard work as it highly motivates employees.


Strategy for motivating employees depends on motivation theories although the theories are not reliable as employee needs continue to change with developing economy. As we have seen earlier, minor motivating factors should be considered first before going to higher ranks, managers should begin by focusing hygiene factors that entail job and security before focusing on motivator factors. Also areas perceived to be displaying inequalities in a way that work done is not adequately paid, managers should give such areas high priority before focusing on work and job security. Thereafter rewarding incentive of pay and interesting work place can be followed to recognize employees who have shown efforts in achieving goals and objectives. Regardless of different theories, employee pay and interesting work tops the list to be the most motivating factors to employees.


  1. ACCEL. (2008). Employee motivation, the organizational environment and productivity.
  2. Clark, S. (2008). Motivate Entry Level Employees in 2008. Articlebase.
  3. Giensen, G. (2007). What You Need To Know About Employee Motivation. Web.
  4. Kelly, J (2005). Understanding what motivates us. Web.
  5. Lindner, J. M. (1998). Understanding Employee Motivation. Journal of extension, 36 (3).
  6. Sanow, A. (2009). 36 Proven Ways to Motivate Employees. Web.

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