Employee Motivation / Concepts & Term Paper

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"Maslow's central theme revolves around the meaning and significance of human work..." (Motivation Theorists and Their Theories) This is a theme that in encountered repeatedly in many existential views of human motivation.

Maslow therefore developed his elegant but essentially simple theory of the different levels of human motivation.

The basic human needs, according to Maslow, are:

physiological needs safety needs; love needs; esteem needs; self-actualization needs

Motivation Theorists and Their Theories)

It must be noted that these needs are in progression or in a hierarchy of needs for the lowest to the highest. The highest level is self - actualization, which is the point at which the human being has the most meaning in terms of his or her personal development. "The highest state of self-actualization is characterized by integrity, responsibility, magnanimity, simplicity and naturalness. Self-actualizers focus on problems external to themselves." (Motivation Theorists and Their Theories)

Maslow's hierarchy of needs provides an important outline of the different aspects that motivates the individual and hence the employee. The most basic of these needs refers to the physiological needs of the human being; for example, hunger and thirst. After these needs have been met, the need for safety and security arises.

After the need for protection and the assurance against danger has been met, the individual in Maslow's theory seeks love or a sense of belonging to a group or social organization. Subsequent to the fulfillment of this need the important need for self-esteem and self-respect has to be met. This is the need within the individual for recognition or appreciation.

Following this is the need for self - actualization, or self - fulfillment.

This need involves the issue of an inner psychological and deeply felt sense of self-development and creative achievement.

The last two needs are of particular important in modern management and the industrial working environment.

Managers and leaders have realized that satisfying the most basic needs in their employees is not sufficient to fully motivate and get the best performance and creativity from their staff. Therefore there has been an emphasis in modern theory and practice on the issue of self - esteem and self-actualization as primary motivating factors.

In the past, management reward systems have attempted to satisfy an individual's lower level needs for safety and physiological security, for protection against deprivation and the threat to a worker or his family....However, management reward systems are now, or should be, endeavoring to satisfy the individual's higher level needs for esteem and self-fulfillment.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)

Furthermore, Marlow's Hierarchy of Needs has particular application and importance for contemporary society.

This is due to the previously mentioned fact that modern managers and leaders in commerce are aware that although the first and second levels of the hierarchy of needs have been met, this is not sufficient to engender employee motivation. "...pay alone is no longer the universal motivator. Now the workforce is more educated and able to handle creative, mental work. In fact, the employees demand it in order to satisfy the upper-level needs..." (Creech)

Expectancy Theory

One of the most respected and an accepted modern theory of motivation is Expectancy Theory.

In essence the theory states that "...motivation depends on how much an individual wants something (the strength of the valence) relative to other things, and the perceived effort-reward probability (expectancy) that they will get it." (Neff) the important aspect here is the focus on is the "effort-reward probability" factor.

In other words the individual is motivated in terms of the expectation that he or she has in relation to the time and resources that they expend. In one sense this theory is based principles of economy. "The exchange is economic in nature and it is assumed that individuals will have expectations regarding the rewards they receive vs. The resources and time they must expend in getting them." (Neff)

Expectancy Theory is attributed to V.H. Vroom (1964). The basis of the theory lies in the view that people "...consciously choose particular courses of action, based upon perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs, as a consequence of their desires to enhance pleasure and avoid pain." (Isaac, Zerbe, and Pitt 212) the original theory suggested by Vroom was expanded on by other theorists. The modern theory of expectations takes account of the fact that, "... expenditure of an individual's effort will be determined by expectations that an outcome may be attained and the degree of value placed on an outcome in the person's mind." (Isaac, Zerbe, and Pitt 212) the essence of this view is that people create expectations in their minds which are measured against " valences" or factors that can impede or enhance the chances of these expectation being met.

The theory is also known as the "...process theory of motivation." (Isaac, Zerbe, and Pitt 212) This is due to the fact that Expectation Theory has as its central focus the way that the individual or the employee perceives or reacts to his or her environment. This differs to a certain extent from other theories of motivation which place more emphasis on the inner or internal psychological aspects of motivation. "By contrast, content theories constitute the other major classification of motivation theories and they focus upon internal attributes of the person." (Isaac, Zerbe, and Pitt 212) Expectancy theory on the other hand "...mainly relies upon extrinsic motivators to explain causes for behaviours exhibited in the workplace." (Isaac, Zerbe, and Pitt 212) Therefore, this is an extremely good theory for managers and business leaders to be aware of in terms of the way that the working environment affects motivation.

2.5. Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg's theory of motivations is also a well respected theory in this field and takes cognizance of external or outer aspects as well as intrinsic motivational factors, in an attempt to understand motivation. To a certain extent we can see this theory as having both process and inner psychological content dimensions

Herzberg's theory of employee motivation is based on two central theoretical aspects. These are referred to as Hygiene theory and Motivation. While Hygiene theory is not directly related to motivation in the workplace, yet it is an essential background or underpinning to motivation.

Hygiene theory refers to the aspects of the organization or business, the business and working environment, which affect motivational criteria. These would therefore include aspects such as business and staff policies, the level and types of staff supervision and general working conditions. Other factors which would be included under the rubric of Hygiene Theory are the value of interpersonal relations among employees and between employees and management; as well as the obvious factor of salary. Employee status and job security are also relevant aspects of the Hygiene component of Herzberg's theory. (Frederick Herzberg)

The other component of Herzberg's theory is the actual theory of motivation; which is indirectly related in numerous ways to the Hygiene factors. In other words, the various motivational facets are dependent on the status and quality of the Hygiene factors. For example, if there is a poor relationship between staff and management this will have an adverse affect on employee motivation. Therefore the various motivational aspects are deeply intertwined with the structure and other aspects of the working environment.

Herzberg indicates a number of central motivators in the working environment. These are;



Growth / advancement

Interest in the job

Human Relations Contributors: Frederick Herzberg)

Herzberg's theory therefore revolves around two related dimensions of motivation in the workplace; namely the variables that constitute the employees working environment (Hygiene) and direct motivational aspects. For instance,

Herzberg was also of the opinion that the main way to motivate employees was "....to give them challenging work where they can assume responsibility." (Neff)

This theory also places emphasis on the Hygiene facets as possible elements in a working situation that could be "...areas of potential dissatisfaction." (Neff) Therefore, "... if, in addition to providing the requisite "hygiene," employers also put in place various tools for motivating their employees, the employees will be even more content and more productive." (Neff)

It is also obvious from this theory that there is a complex relationship between the environmental and " Hygiene" factors and the elements that promote positive motivation among employees. A Hygiene factor in this theory, such as the policy of the company, will have a related impact on a motivating factor such as achievement and recognition.

2.6. Career Anchors.

A view that has achieved some recognition is the concept of career anchors. This as an employee motivational theory put forward by Edgar Schein. Schein was a Sloan Fellows Professor of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In this theory he suggested that employees are essentially motivated by certain "career anchors" and these are determined and defined by the way view themselves in relation to their work. The employee will usually be motivated by one of these anchors or central motivating factors.

There are eight career anchors.

Technical/functional competence.…[continue]

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