Theories of Employee Motivation: Efficiency Motivationof Employees


Today’s mounting force on organizations managerial ability signifies that motivation of employees is very important in the improvements of every organizational structure. Therefore, learning how to motivate the team has turn out to be an essential skill for team leaders in every organization. For good reasons, motivation has become one stock phrase that has become nonsense through endless repetitions of modern leadership and management. Nevertheless, as stated by the workers employed in an organization, motivation is both extremely personal and complex and there is a difference between what motivates people to carry out their duties at a high level and what leads to lack of interest in their performance (Jones, 2004, p. 41).

We will start by determining the essential quality of motivation before investigating two groups of motivational theories.

The word motivation, as made clear by Steers, Mowday, and Shapiro (2004), is an ancestry of a movement of the Latin word for, ‘movere’. Its significance in the place of work is incarcerated in the equivalence close to a half century: execution of employment = The quality of being able to perform (ability) + provision of incentive (motivation).

The mathematical statement concisely defines scope and structure why the topic of motivation is a fundamental assumption in the area of Human Resource Management (HRM), Industrial and Organization Psychology (I/O), and Organization Behavior (OB).

Provision of incentives is a fundamental feature of instruction. The period, funds, and available source of wealth an organization assigns to means of escalating an individual’s capabilities are exhausted to the degree that a member of staff decides not to gain knowledge or skills of what is being taught, or decides not to pertain recently obtained factual information and talents in the place of work.

The subject of study that centres on the human skills that supervisors and managers need to be efficient is known as organizational behaviour. Organizational behaviour is the systematic and technological analysis of human being, groups, and organisations; its intended and expected outcome is to perceive mentally an idea or situation, predict, and develop the performance of employees and eventually, the organizations in which they work. It uses an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies to various circumstances in explaining specific set of phenomena and research from psychology and sociology, and managerial theory which enables employers to understand how to use this knowledge to meliorate the efficiency of an organization (Rizzo, Tosi, and Mero, 2000, p.3).

Organizational efficiency is mostly observed by the quality of the employees and how the organization trains them. As a result, it is normal that successful organizations try to employ and maintain skilful employees and organize training for them with professional development opportunities. However, abilities, skills, personality, and organizational back-up alone might not contribute to individual job performance that adds to general organizational effectiveness. It is possible that some employees choose not to perform even when they possess the right attribute that must be met or complied with thereby making them efficient in every organization.

Defining Motivation

Provision of incentive is the consequence of the dealings involving an individual and a condition. However, motivation can be clearly characterized as the procedures that report an individual’s strength, bearing, and persistence of effort in the direction of attaining a goal (Mitchell, 1997, p.60). While common motivation is relevant with effort towards any goal.

Borkowski Nancy gave a description of Motivation as the conscious or unconscious acts to arouse action, positive motivational influence, or motives for action toward a goal resulting from psychological or social factors, the factors giving the purpose or direction to behaviour. Put differently, motivation is the psychological course of action through which discontented needs or wants directs the motives that are intended at goals or incentives. The purpose of an individual’s behaviour is to satisfy needs and wants. A need is anything a person considers obligatory, request and expectations or desires. A want is the intentionally conceived recognition of a motive. The existence of a worried and uneasy need or want creates an interior tension, from which an individual seeks relief (105).

Definition of Organizational Behaviour

Organizational behaviour can be defined as the study of the human mode of performance in an organization. It is the regular analysis of individual and group course of action and characteristics. The purpose of organizational behaviour is to understand, predict, and enhance the performance of organizations and individuals and at the same time concerns with supervision of people.

In line with this, it is only in recent times that organizational behaviour (OB) has been regarded as a separate field of study. After the late 1950s, an anxious feeling about managing individuals, components were established in writings on technological management, organizational theory, engineering science of mental life, and the human relations ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation. Additionally, many hypothetical and experimental aspects of the essential social science training to improve strength or self-control were drawn on to become incorporated into the branch of knowledge which is lately known as organizational behaviour, a body of knowledge, still imperfect and developing (Rizzo, Tosi, & Mero, 2000, p.26).

The key elements of motivation

Some of the fundamental components of motivation are the amount of energy input, management, and determination.

Nevertheless, intensity is involved in or affected with how hard a person tries. Though, high concentration is unlikely to lead to constructive job-performance outcomes unless the effort is channelled in a direction that benefits the organization. Therefore, we have to think about the worth of effort as well as its intensity. Effort that is focussed toward, and worthy of reliance or trust with, the organization’s goal is the kind of attempt that employees should be seeking. Finally, motivation has a continuing or repeating behavioural dimension. This is a certain dimension of how long an individual can uphold an endeavour. Individuals who are motivated stay with a task long enough to achieve their goal.

What motivates people?

The motivation theories that cover the content of what motivates people are classified under a subsuming principle is known as content theories or static-content theories.

Although the static-content theories presents the fundamental understanding of what motivates people, however, they are not enough to describe the multifaceted nature of human motivation, as people reacts in a different way to their needs. Factors excluding discontented needs also control motivation, and different process theories were formulated to describe the operation of motivation (Thompson, 2005, p.45).

Despite the complications of being specific about the nature of motivation, the idea is critical for team leader since it concerns: the goals that manipulate behaviour; the thought procedures that are used to recognize the needs and drives towards particular goals and decision; and the social procedures that manipulate employees behaviour patterns (Jones, 2004, p.43).

If we imagine that staffs are given satisfactory opportunity to perform well and have the essential skills then it is their motivation that decides if they are truly efficient or not. A team member is without doubt a vital resource, besides being a valuable one, and regardless of what the degree of complexity we achieve in terms of technology; employees will always be dependent on human factors to make the most of their skills and attitudes (Jones, 2004, p.44).

Comparing and contrasting the two theories of motivation

In organizational behaviour, the configuration of motivation has been researched over many years. Through this research, we have identified and grouped motivation into two theories of motivation:

  1. Maslow’s theory and
  2. Herzberg’s theory.

Maslow’s theory of motivation

Maslow’s theory of motivation (also called need theories) gives detail of the exact factors that inspire employees. The content in organizational behaviour, the arrangement of motivation has been researched over many years. Through this research, we have identified and grouped motivation into two theories of motivation: (1) content and (2) process.

Maslow’s theory of motivation, (also referred to as need theories) make plain and comprehensible the exact factors that inspire employees. The content ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation focuses on the hypothesis that is taken for granted that employees always get motivated by the inclination to want things to satisfy their personal needs. Content theories assist managers to perceive mentally ideas or situation of what stimulates, invigorates, or initiates employee behaviour.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy. Based on Maslow’s theory of motivation, which suggested the well known Need Hierarchy as a description of the powerful effect or influence motivating human behaviour. It is important to analyse that Maslow’s theory was not distinctively designed to explain behaviour in the work place. Relatively, Maslow made an effort to create a general theory that would clarify the motivating powerful effect or influence behind all focused behaviours. It is also important to consider that Maslow developed his Need Hierarchy based mainly on clinical observations rather than systematic experiment and observation. In spite of these statements that limits or restricts some claim, Maslow’s theory has become rather important in different areas of psychology, including organizational psychology.

Fig 1.1 presents the five need levels that comprise Maslow’s Need Hierarchy. At the bottom of the hierarchy are ‘physiological needs’. This level symbolizes the need for food, oxygen, and water, things that are physiologically needed to sustain life. These needs are at the least level because they will motivate behaviour only if they are discontented. As a result a person who needs such essential supplies will be motivated primarily to acquire them. On the other hand, in some parts of the world, essential physiological sustenance is one of the most important forces motivating not only work behaviour, but much other behaviour as well. When physiological needs are contented, a person then Move forward, also in the metaphorical sense to the next level in hierarchy: ‘Safety needs’, this consist of things such as shelter from the elements and protection from predators. As with all needs, Maslow suggested that safety needs would motivate behaviour only to the point that they are not fulfilled or achieved. Safety needs are a little easier to demonstrate how it may motivate work behaviour. This is seen when one is in a position to offer adequate housing in a safe neighbourhood, in addition to the security of having an assured retirement income.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy.
Fig 1.1. Maslow’s Need Hierarchy.

After safety, there is ‘love needs’. This level represents the need to shape significant social relationships with others and the aspiration to feel a sense of belonging. Although love needs may be pleased in a variety of ways, for most people work symbolizes an essential context for pleasing this type of need. People regularly build up close relationship with their co-workers consequently gaining substantial pleasure. ‘Esteem needs’ is the next one which is connected to the desire to feel a sense of capability and mastery or competence by being a good parent, having a clean neat house. For many people, the work place signifies a primary situation in which esteem and competence needs are pleased. The last one is ‘self actualization’; this is when one recognizes their potential of becoming what one is able to become. It is definitely possible that work could present an opportunity for self-actualization.

Herzberg’s theory of motivation

As opposed to Maslow’s theory, Herzberg’s theory argues that when hygiene needs are not met, workers will be discontented. On the other hand, fulfilling hygiene needs alone does not tend to or result in to greatly actuated staff or high degrees of job contentment within a work force. For enthusiasm and job satisfaction to be high a manager must understand and posses motivational needs.

Herzberg’s theory of motivation centre on the cognitive processes underlying employee’s degree of motivation. This close approximation gives an account and examination of how behaviour is energized, focussed, sustained, and stopped. Herzberg’s theories help in describing how an employee’s behaviour is pioneered, channelled, and caused to stop (Steers, & Sanchez-Runde, 2001).

Motivational needs These are related to the work itself and how demanding that work is. Outcomes such as interesting work, autonomy, accountability, growth and development on job, and sense of achievement and success help to persuade motivation needs. Basically motivated behaviour as a result is behaviour that the worker executes for its own sake; the source of motivation is in fact performing the work. Some ways to motivate fundamentally are to present opportunities for growth and success and to identify individual’s achievements (Lauby, 2005).

People can be motivated in three manners: Intrinsically, extrinsically, or both. It depends on a variety of factors:

  1. The quality or characteristics of the work
  2. Personal characteristics such as personalities, abilities, values, attitudes and needs
  3. The nature of the organization-its arrangement, culture, control systems, human resources, and reward systems.

How a team leader might use these theories to motivate their team

Employee motivation has a specific effect in an organization’s performance; therefore, managers need to understand what motivates employees. By understanding what motivates employees, managers can support them in attaining their fullest professionalism. There are some elements that manager’s can direct or determine (e.g., need for recognition, achievement); managers can be authoritative by offering a work environment that gives employees the chance to gratify their personal needs and, concurrently, the organization’s goals.

The provision of incentives to staff is not about wall decoration with cute sayings in the office. Motivating is a specified thing that managers do by Setting or laying up the groundwork for an organizational composition and environment that makes accessible and possibility due to a favourable combination of circumstances for employees to satisfy both their internal and external needs. However, motivation is an employee’s self-imposed force to meet the requirements or expectations of a need or want.

Every director must believe that motivation is the practice by which individuals are motivated to work on their personal needs, aspirations, and drives. On the other hand one of the central administrative responsibilities is to inspire employees to work toward organizational and departmental aims and objectives. To achieve this task, the manager must find a way of making those aims agreeable or acceptable to each employee’s needs. As might be expected, motivation is the only fraction of work performance; personal skill and the work environment also have an effect upon the level performance.

In other words, employees need to cognise how to do their work well (ability); they need to desire to do their work well (motivation); and they need equipment, supplies, facilities, and authority to do their work well (environment). The absence of any of these three factors adventures performance. Directors need to recognize the diverseness among employees in the workplace and regard cultural differences.

Demographic qualities can be a problem if staff members do not believe or they question if they are “one of us.” If a manager’s socioeconomic, cultural, race, sexual characteristics, or religious backgrounds are poles apart from those of a subordinate, the manager must build an environment of understanding acceptance and “togetherness.” The manager must be responsive to the cultures and social values of employees (Jones, 2004, p.50).

Reward (money) and benefits programs are the most physical means for motivating and rewarding the workforce for their labour. On the other hand, how well money and benefits unaccompanied motivate employees to perform diligently in their duties. Reward and benefits are extrinsic motivators, having limited lasting result. In actual fact, employees generally rate four things above salary: appreciation for work done, A sense of “being in on things,” helps with personal problems, and job security.

In conclusion, employees have different needs, many of which go further than the basics such as good working conditions, job security and fair pay. These have to be met, but doing so will not in itself give contentment. Failures with the essential needs always describe discontentment among employees. On the other hand, meeting people’s needs such as self-importance in their work and sharing in the objectives of the organization brings about satisfaction.

Research into people’s behaviour has recommended that people are motivated by various needs, both at work and in their personal lives. There are several theories about what motivates employees to carry out their duties diligently and each has different implications for how employees work. Several motivation theories work on assumption that given the opportunity and at the appointed times, employees work well and effectively. Effective team managers remain constantly alert to what these prompts might be for individual team members.

Reference List

Borkowski, N., 2010. Organizational Behavior in Health Care. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jones, J., 2004. Management skills in schools: a resource for school leaders. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.

Lauby, S. J. 2005. Motivating Employees. Fort Lauderdale, FL: American Society for Training and Development.

Mitchell, T.R., 1997. “Matching Motivational Strategies with Organizational Contexts,” in L.L. Cummings and B.M. Staw (eds.), Research in Organizational Behaviour. Vol.19 (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1997), pp.60-62.

Rizzo, J. R., Tosi, H. L., and Mero, N. P., 2000. Managing Organizational Behaviour. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell.

Steers, R. M., Mowday, R.T., and Shapiro, D.L., 2004. The future of work motivation theory. Academy of management Review, 29, 379-389.

Steers, R. M., & Sanchez-Runde, C., 2001. Culture, motivation, and work behavior. In M. Gannon & K. Newman (Eds.), Handbook of cross-cultural management: 190–215. London: Blackwell.

Thompson, H. A., 2005. Currents and convergence: navigating the rivers of change. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Assoc. of College & Research Libraries.

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