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Who Is Responsible For Employees Motivation At Work?

Home Free essays Analysis Who Is Responsible For Employees Motivation At Work?


Motivation, as derived from the term motive means what prompts a person to develop an inclination for a specific behavior. Employees’ motivation therefore refers to factors that make an employee feel obliged to pursue a given goal. Where those factors are externally generated, the motivation becomes ‘extrinsic’. Conversely, when employees are compelled to accomplish tasks simply because they find them enjoyable, fulfilling or satisfying, then called ‘intrinsic motivation’. For any motivation to be effective, we require the conduciveness of work environment; a factor that is difficult to be realized in many organizations. Employee motivation is very significant because it tremendously influences productivity. Where employees are well motivated, the organization will realize proportion output. This essay critically examines the question of who is responsible for employee motivation at work. To do this perfectly, the paper analyses the three major approaches to motivation; need based, process based and learning/reinforcement approach. In addition, the paper examines the two forms of employee motivation, that is intrinsic and extrinsic to ascertain exactly whose prerogative is it to ensure that employees are motivated in their course of duty.  

Need Based Approach to Motivation

The responsibility of employee motivation at a place of work is bilateral in the sense that it is both individually and externally generated. The urge to satisfy one’s needs form a major contributing factor for intrinsic motivation where as the system of administration, employers’ traits and environmental factors, collectively form the extrinsic form of motivation.

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According to Maslow, employees’ motivation is often intrinsic as it is highly inclined on the need to satisfy personal necessities. In his theory of ‘need-hierarchy’, Maslow demonstrates his prepotency principle, which shows how people’s motivation comes with the urge to first satisfy the lower order needs and then in the sequence to the higher order needs. These include physiological needs, security needs, social needs, self esteem needs and finally needs related to self-actualization. He therefore strongly believes that while at work, employees would be motivated to perform according to the intensity of their needs and their desire to satisfy them.

Similar to this is the theory of Existence Relatedness Growth, which was advanced by Aldersfer. He based the concept of motivation on three crucial aspects, existence, relatedness and growth. Just like in Maslow’s theory, the needs of existence are physiological and security needs which fall in the category of lower order. They also require much attention as compared to those in the higher order. Besides, relatedness needs are those that call for interpersonal interaction in order to satisfy them. This therefore requires extrinsic motivation which is mostly made available by the organization’s leadership and fellow employees. Alderfer further focuses on growth needs which are similar to Maslow’s needs for self-esteem and self- actualization.

In addition to these is Herzberg’s Hygiene-Motivator approach which seeks to reduce Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to hygiene; physiological, safety and social, and motivators; comprising ego and self actualization needs. He argues that the motivation of employees is the responsibility of the leadership to arrange and enrich the job so that is provides intrinsic satisfaction of higher needs. Herzberg further alludes people are intrinsically motivated due to the need for achievement; where they would strive for victory and the contentment of accomplishing a challenging mission, need for power; which comes from the desire to make a direct influence on others through suggestions, opinions and evaluations, and need for affiliation which is desire to maintain warm, strong relationships with friends and relatives. 

Process Approach to Motivation

This depicts a certain degree of commitment that an individual employs in order to achieve their goals. According to Locke’s Goal theory of motivation, people regulate their behavior depending on the goals they want to achieve. He alludes that greater motivation comes from within an individual’s unsatisfied needs. This will prompt him/her to device mechanisms through which he can translate his unsatisfied needs into actions.

Besides, Giancola emphasizes that the magnitude of an individual’s goal also determine the motivation of the individual. This is backed by the Goal theory of motivation findings; which states that certain challenging goals demand higher task performance than vague goals. This motivation is reflected by the adequate abilities that employees have, their feedback which shows their progress towards set goals and the appropriate strategies that they use when tasks are complex.

Lastly is the Vroom’s theory of Expectancy reiterates that motivation of employees comes when they size up circumstances in terms of their perceived needs and act according to their perceptions. According to Vroom, employees work hard and enthusiastically when they see a high probability of success in the tasks they are accomplishing, correlation with their fundamental needs and the valence or value of the ultimate reward from the task. Once employees are cognizant of these aspects, they will not need any one to police them or rather coerce them in order for them to accomplish certain tasks.

Learning/Reinforcement Approach

In another perspective, motivation comes from an employee’s experience through the learning process at work. However this kind of motivation is rather instinctive since it is not a product of a though process hence it is intrinsic form of motivation. Besides, the commonly embraced way of motivating employees by the management is through reinforcement. This essentially entails behavior modification through contingent reward or punishments. According to Skinner, employees have a tendency of repeating a certain behavior if it ultimately leads to a reward and would not repeat the behavior if it results into punishment.

The Organization and Employees are Responsible for Motivation through Intrinsic and Extrinsic Forms of Motivation

Based on the aforementioned approaches, it follows that the responsibility of ensuring employee motivation in an organization is squarely the mandate of both the employers and the employees themselves. This is due to the intertwining nature of the two major forms of motivation; extrinsic and intrinsic, which makes it obvious that none can succeed without the other. Their proportionate application is what will eventually result into a balanced and credible progress not just to the organization but to individual employees as well. 

Some of the ways that are used to motivate employees through intrinsic form include, setting of goals for them. Goals will always arouse in employees the spirit of hard work and competition among resulting in their attainment of the intended goals. This captures the essence of the establishment and hence fosters commitment, discipline, order and growth. Meaningful growth and development is achieved only when employees work results in the attainment of optimal goals, lest the organization is rendered irrelevant.

Apart from that, employers use a pay for performance strategy, where different employees are put on different scale of salary depending on their qualifications, responsibilities, experience and their proficiency at work. This in itself stimulates them to work hard and compete for promotion. When an employee realizes that his/her hard work would result into promotion and subsequent financial rewards, they get motivated even to double their effort.

Furthermore, some employees are often motivated when they are recognized by employers, especially after posing outstanding results in their respective fields. This other than encouraging them to maintain the good record they have set, it also challenges other employees whose performance would still be dismal to also aim higher and improve. Recognition also boost individuals’ confidence and self esteem which works well both for them and for the organization.

Moreover, the use of positive reinforcement which entails giving an extra privilege to an employee after satisfactory performance is a great motivator to employees. This will encourage workers to aim higher in their fields of operation, to unleash their inherent potential, abilities and expertise to the fullest in order to attract certain privileges from the organization. Some of the privileges may include being given a self-contained house, study leave, holidays, company vehicle, a bigger office, and scholarships for further studies, among others.

Conversely, another motivation of employees is negative reinforcement which entails removal of extra duties from an employee as a way of encouraging more efficiency on his side. For instance, the organization may opt to employ an extra employee to take up the excess duties that were in the docket of another employee; who would have demonstrated a lot of commitment in his duties, without making any alteration in his remuneration, rights and privileges. This would assure employees their security of job as well as motivating them to double their efforts for increased productivity.

On the other hand, the organization may have a system of administering punitive measure to employees who would have contravened rules and regulations as a way of discouraging mischief, negligence, absenteeism, lateness, insubordination, among other vices. Some of the ways of doing this may be to introduce extra responsibilities to someone for a certain period until his behavior conforms to the required standards. Sometimes even suspension from duty for a period of time may also be applicable. This motivates employees to maintain decorum in the system for fear of the repercussions of erroneous behavior.

This is a way of motivating employees through removal of certain privileges that they had been enjoying especially after they have gone astray. It may include removal of transport allowance, snacks, entertainment, or holidays as a way of expressing displeasure in their duties during a specific time frame. The strategy motivates employees to remain focused on the organization’s goals in order to continue enjoying certain privileges. This way they will ensure exhaustive achievement of the firm’s goals.

Since greater motivation of employees comes from within, it is vital to acknowledge the following as its promotional factors: First, intrinsic motivation is highly dependent on the magnitude of challenge in the task they are undertaking. It is noted that many employees would be more motivated when the goals that they are pursuing have a personal meaning to them and they can influence their self-esteem. Motivation is also greater when it is they are assured of the possibility of attaining the goal and when a clear performance feedback is clear.

Secondly, the internal motivation can be increased when an employee’s sensory curiosity and cognitive curiosity are aroused. This basically means something in the physical environment that grabs the attention and stimulating the person’s desire to learn more form that thing. Another way through employees get internally motivated is the desire to have control over themselves, the environment as well as the freedom to decide what they pursue. This gives them that sense of responsiveness, as they will also practice caution since they will be in charge of their actions and consequences.  


Motivation is vital at any work place, and should be individually and externally generated. The main forms of motivation are heavily dependent on each other. A situation where a self motivated employee is deficient of external motivation may result to his exploitation by the organization. This will adversely affect production and hamper progress of the entire organization. Besides, employees who are well motivated externally than internally will definitely be infective. External motivation can only serve its intended purpose if it induces the desire to attain certain individual needs in an employee. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation yield bilateral benefits. However, this should be done in moderation to avoid over-justification. Researchers have proven that the two forms of motivation differ in terms of effectives in driving certain behaviors. Otherwise external rewards can be suitable to motivate people to acquire new skills and knowledge, hence motivate them intrinsically to pursue the intended course. It is therefore imperative to note that unexpected external reward typically cannot decrease intrinsic motivation although those being motivated should not accomplish tasks expecting reward in return.

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