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Key Motivational Theories and Identification of Theories that Strongly Influence Affective and Behavioral Processes of Employees

1.Identify the key motivational theories and discuss which of the theories strongly influences employees’ affective processes and behavioural processes.

2.Describe the characteristics of a positive work environment and discuss how HR designs jobs to motivate employees.

3.Discuss the synthesis of Hackman and Oldham’s (1976) job characteristics and employees’ psychological states in relation to work outcomes, such as intrinsic work motivation, job satisfaction, and high quality work performance.

4.Discuss the possible relationship between Maslow’s general components and job characteristics in view of engaging and motivating employees in organisations.

The engagement and motivation of employees is considered to be the center of strategic human resource management practices.  Employees are the most important asset on which the success of the business depends. Therefore, it is important that an organization should identify the practices which can be used for the purpose of fostering the emotional, cognitive and behavioral qualities so that the motivation level of employees can be enhanced. The employees needs to be motivated in order to enable them to actualize their potential. When the employees are motivated, their productivity automatically improves thereby resulting in the overall growth of the organization (Gallup Consulting,2010).

This report focuses on the key motivational theories that influence the affective and behavioral processes of employees along with the characteristics of a positive work environment and the job designing practices that should be adopted by the HR for motivating the employees.Moreover, it highlights the job characteristics and the psychological states of the employees in relation to work outcomes and the relationship between the general components of the Maslow’s theory and job characteristics.

Motivation can be defined as the reason behind the actions, desires and needs of people. There are a number of theories related to motivation such as Maslow’s need Hierarchy theory, Herzberg’s motivation hygiene theory, McGregor participation theory, McClelland Need Theory, Urwick’s theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory, Argyris’s theory and Porter and Lawler’s expectancy theory (Miner, 2015).

Affective processes of the employees include all responses and feelings, positive or negative, related to knowledge, emotion- laden behavior or beliefs. On the other hand, the behavioral processes are the psychological and physiological behavior of the employees. Though the affective processes and the behavioral processes of the employees are significantly affected by a number of motivational theories but the key theories among them have been discussed below.

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory- This theory has a strong influence of the affective and behavioral processes of the employees. The needs covered in the theory are the basic needs of human life relating to food, clothing, shelter, water, air and other necessities of life. The relation of such needs is with the survival of humans and maintenance of life.  A tremendous influence on the behavior of humans is exerted by these needs. The higher level needs emerge only after the completion of the lower level needs. After the satisfaction of this need, it is no longer capable of motivating an individual. When an employee first joins an organization, he seeks to fulfill his safety need by earning money and is therefore prompted to work more. After its satisfaction, the employee moves towards the social, belonging, esteem and self- actualization needs. Thebehavior of the employees is automatically diverted towards the satisfaction of the respective needs (Rasskazova, Ivanova& Sheldon, 2016).

Maslow's Need Hierarchy Theory

Argyris’s Theory- this motivation theory is based on the proposition that how the practices adopted by the management affect the growth and behavior of the individual. The personality of an employeedevelops when certain changes takes place such as activity, capable behaving in many ways, independence, long term perspective, deep interest, self- awareness and control and subordinate position. The management system needs to be participative and flexible so that the safety and physiological needs of the employees can be satisfied and they can grow towards maturity.It also motivates them to make more use of safety and physiological needs and prepare them for the accomplishment of the organizational objectives (Stoyanov, 2017).

Victor’s Expectancy Theory- the behavior of the employees is automatically diverted when they are motivated for exerting high level of efforts for good performance appraisal, organizational rewards and therefore the satisfaction of their personal goals. When the level of expectancy of the individual is high and the reward is also attractive then high level of motivation is witnessed in the employees (Hsu, Shinnar& Powell, 2014).

Herzberg’s Motivation Hygiene Theory- it is also referred to as two factor theory of motivation. According to this motivation theory, the satisfaction and the motivation of employees is impacted by two factors namely- motivator factors and hygiene factors. The motivator factors involve the factors that bear the capability of leading to the motivation and satisfaction of the employees for working harder.  For example, feeling recognized, enjoying the work and career progression.On the other hand, the hygiene factors include the factors which have the capability of leading to lack of motivationand dissatisfaction. For example, company, benefits, policies and relationship with co- workers and managers (Alshmemri, Shahwan- Akl& Maude, 2017).

Both motivator and hygiene factor influence the motivation of the employees and affect their behavior. This leads the employees to perform the task completely independent of each other. The absence of the motivator and hygiene factors can result in dissatisfaction among the employees.

Following are the characteristics of a positive work environmentin the workplace.

Positive Values- the workplace should be capable of promoting positive values. It should start with a great mission statement and should encourage the employees to abide by the code of conductso that they can operate in accordance with the values of the organization.The companies that show dedication towards the quality, honest and ethical business practices are considered to be more commitment towards providing a positive work environment for the employees (Raziq&Maulabakhsh, 2015).

Argyris's Theory

Open Lines of Communication- there should be open lines of communication among the employers and employees. It provides the workers with extreme level of satisfaction when they know that their ideas and suggestions are contributing towards the success of the organization. This in turn boosts the morale of employees in the organization.

Focus on Training- companies should show commitment towards staying up-to-date in accordance with the changing world. The importance of providing updated systems, tools and effective training for assisting the workers in better utilization of their time and staying competitive in today’s world. This can boost the productivity, worker satisfaction and can create a positive working environment (Pfeffer&Veiga, 1999).

Positive Leadership-an important role is played by leadership in the creation of positive work environment. When the leaders are good, a positive example is created in front of the followers which further create a positive and relaxed atmosphere. Open lines of communication are encouraged by good leaders along with ensuring the smoothness of the business operations (Blanch, Gil, Antino& Rodriquez- Munoz, 2016).

Teamwork- the atmosphere of teamwork constitutes another characteristic of a positive work environment.  Teamwork helps in creating a place where the smoothness of the workplace in ensured by the management. In an ideal workplace, the workers feel supported and are aware of their roles in the organization. The working of each employee is towards the achievement of a common goal (Mencl& Lester, 2014).

It is important that the employees are motivated for achieving success in the organization. Therefore, the HR should design the job in such a manner which increases the motivation level of the employees. The term job design can be defined as the psychological theory of motivation in which purposeful and systematic allocation of tasks are made to the groups within an organization (Holman & Axtell, 2016). For the purpose of motivating the employees, the following important components of job design should be considered.

Skill Variety- skill variety refers to the range of abilities required for the purpose of performing a job. The motivation of the employees automatically increases when they make the use of variety of skills in their position rather than making the use of same skill repeatedly.

Task Identity-task identity can be defined as the extent to which an identifiable piece of work is involved in the completion of the task with a visible outcome from starting to the end. When the employees identify with a task, they are motivated for its completion and the achievement of the outcome. In other words, when employees feel that the organization provides significance to the work done by them, they are further motivated for the achievement of objectives.

Victor's Expectancy Theory

Task Significance- task significance can be referred to as the extent to which the task or job is significant to and influence others within and outside the organization. The significance of the task performed by the employees to the organization performs the job of motivating them. When employees feel that their work is going unnoticed or is incapable of affecting anyone then they are less motivated for completing the tasks (Barrick, Thurgood, Smith &Courtright, 2015).

Autonomy- Autonomy can be defines as the ability and level of freedom to schedule tasks that an employee has to perform. Employees expect flexibility and ability to make decisions in their defined roles. When employees do not have freedom in their roles they are less motivated in the performance of the tasks (Wegman, Hoffman, Carter, Twenge&Guenole, 2018).

Job Feedback- This aspect is concerned with the degree to which direct feedback is received by the employeeson their performance. Both positive and negative feedback is required by the employees for the purpose of staying motivated for the performance of job. Feedback should be provided by the managers on the performance of the employees throughout their tenure and not only on annual or biannual basis (Saks &Gruman, 2014).

These are the areas which should be considered by the HR in the process of their job design. Internal or intrinsic motivation is required by the employees for the effective completion of their roles in the organization. The job designing that encompasses with all of these characteristics results in increasing the motivation of employees and improving their performance (Lazaroiu, 2015).

It is important to understand human resource management for the effectiveness of the organization. (Jackson&Schuler, 1995). Hackman and Oldham introduced the job characteristics model which is based on the basic thought that job itself is the solution behind the motivation of employees. A monotonous and boring job suppresses the motivation for performing well. On the other hand, motivation is enhanced by challenging jobs. Autonomy, variety and decision authority are the ways with the help of which a job can be made challenging. Job rotation and job enrichment are the ways that add challenge and variety in the jobs (Ali, Said, Kader, AbLatif&Munap, 2014).

It further states that there are five essential job characteristics including task identity, task significance, skill variety, autonomy, and feedback which have a severe influence on the three critical psychological states namely experienced meaningfulness ,experienced responsibility for outcomes, and knowledge of the actual results. This in turn performs the task of influencing the work outcomes such as absenteeism, job satisfaction, high quality work performance, work motivation, etc.  Therefore, the five characteristics can be combined for the purpose of forming a motivating potential score (MPS) for a task. Such score can be utilized in the form of an index of the probability of the job affecting the behaviors and attitudes of the employee.  

Herzberg's Motivation Hygiene Theory

The job characteristics theory provided the Hackman and Oldmanpropose that there is a relation of high motivation with the experience of three psychological states during working:

Meaningfulness of work- it provides that the work must be meaningful. This means that the contribution of the employee must be capable enough of affecting the overall effectiveness of the organization. This is considered to be important for achieving intrinsic motivation in which work itself acts as the source of motivation (Frieder, Wang & Oh, 2018). This derived from-

Skill variety- when the skills and talents are utilized in an appropriate way. Appropriateness is important as too few can be boring and too many can be overwhelming.

Task Identity- it is the ability to make the identification of work in hand as complete which enables them to take pride in the result of the work.

Task Significance- It is the skill to recognize that the job performed by an individual is making contribution towards something wider, to a group or society and is beyond self.  

Responsibility- responsibility is derived from the autonomy in which independence, substantial freedom and discretion is provided by the job to the individual in determination of the procedures for carrying out the task and in scheduling the work.

Knowledge of Outcomes-knowledge of outcomes is derived from feedback. This further implies that when an employee is aware regarding the level of effectiveness in the performance of task, then such employee converts the efforts into performance. Such efforts can be expressed in anything ranging from production figures to the satisfaction scores of the customer.Information is offered by feedback which helps in performance of the job in a different manner. Such feedback can come from the job itself or from other people (Raemdonck, Gijbels&Groen, 2014).

The key components of the job design can be derived from the knowledge of the critical job characteristics. The work can be varied for the purpose of enabling skill variety. Moreover,wholeness of the products produced can be increased by way of assigning the work to groups so that its significance can be enhanced. The jobs can be delegated for the purpose of creating autonomy and responsibility. The people should also be associated with the consequences of their job and the consumers so that feedback can be provided for learning.

The general components specified by Maslow and the job characteristics theory provided by Hackman and Oldham have a relationship among them in terms of engaging and motivating the employees in an organization.The general components provided by Maslow and the job characteristics both explain human motivation.

Characteristics of a Positive Work Environment and Job Designing by HR for Motivating Employees

The components of the Maslow’s need hierarchy theory include safety needs, physiological needs, esteem needs, belonging needs, and self- actualization needs. On the other hand, the job characteristics include task identity, autonomy, skill variety, feedback and task significance which has a severe impact on the psychological states namely experienced responsibility for outcomes, knowledge of the actual results and experienced meaningfulness. This in turn performs the task of influencing the work outcomes such as absenteeism, job satisfaction, work motivation, high quality work performance, etc. (Taylor, 2015)

The relationship lies in the fact that the components of motivation provided by Maslow are connected with the job characteristics.  The safety needs described by Maslow include the need for stability, security and freedom from fear. These needs are met when more money is earned by the employee which prompts them to work more.This is related to the task significance as when the employees find out that the job performed by them is significant to the organization, they are further motivated to continue the job.When the security needs are met with the task significance, the employee lasts in the organization for a longer duration (Hauff, Richter &Tressin, 2015).

Also, the esteem needs of the employees look for recognition, approval and respect in the organization.The fulfillment of such needs allow the employees to gain knowledge, self- confidence, independence and achievement. The fulfillment of the esteem needs leads towards the capability of an individual to become a useful part of an organization. This is related with the skill variety and feedback job characteristics (Lee & Hanna, 2015). When positive feedback is received from the managers or other senior authorities by the employees, they are motivated to further improve their performance in the organization. Moreover, for gaining recognition in the organization, the employees require to use a number of skills rather than making the use of a single skill repeatedly.When they use the same set of skills again and again, they get bored and are no longer motivated for performing the task (Brown, Pierce &Crossley, 2014).

The self- actualization need of an individual specified by Maslow is the highest level need. This need is associated with the motivation of a person to transform perception of self into actuality. This is related with the autonomy characteristic of a job (Bridgman, Cummings & Ballard, 2017.). When certain level of needs is attained by an individual, then such a person require to attain flexibility in the role performed by him/her. Such flexibility also demands the authority to make the necessary decisions without consulting other individuals. The self- actualization is achieved by them when they have requisite freedom in the performance of their roles.

Positive Values


Therefore, it can be concluded that the engagement and motivation of employees is the center of strategic human resource management practices.It is important to identify the organizational practices that can be used forthe purpose of fostering the emotional, cognitive and behavioral qualities that enhance the motivation of employees and positively impact them. This report focused on the identification of key motivational theories that have a strong influence on the affective and behavioral processes of the employees. Moreover, the report provides that a positive work environment can be created by following positive values in the organization along with establishing open lines of communication, focusing on training, positive leadership and teamwork. Furthermore, the job should be designed by HR in such a way that it increases the motivation level of the employees. It further describes the job characteristics model which is based on the thought that the job itself is the solution behind the motivation of employees. Also, the report describes that there is a relationship between the general components of the Maslow’s theory and the job characteristics.


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