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Physiological motivation theories

The motivation of employees is a complex issue and can involve the incorporation of a number of management policies. Discuss the three main theoretical approaches to motivation and evaluate at least three methods of employee motivation.

Employees are the most significant asset within an organization. Among the most prospect management concerns is employee motivation. Employe motivation involves workers rate of energy, creativity, and commitment in their jobs to improve companies’ productivity. However, the motivation of employees remains a complex issue that requires incorporation of various management policies for business to thrive (Latham, 2012, p. 12). Little or no employee motivation contributes to company’s failure due to the poor performance, dissatisfaction, and reduced personnel morale which directly lead to under-productivity. This essay discusses three theoretical approaches to employee motivation as well as evaluating four methods of employee motivation.

The motivation of employees inspires them to provide excellent work, market organization's products adequately, and meet all their set goals. For managers to motivate employees, they need to understand the theories of employee motivation (Lepper and Greene, 2015, p. 80).  The following is a discussion of theoretical approaches to employee motivation which influence organizational performance.

The physiological motivation theories can be associated with three social scientists namely Maslow, McGregor, and Herzberg among other social researchers. These theories postulate that in every organizational setting, employees must get motivated and that this motivation makes them act uniquely in an attempt to achieve their set goals and fulfill innate goals of a company.


Maslow argues that employees get motivated to achieve particular needs and that these needs are not equal since some have precedence over others. Maslow argues that physiological needs that comprise of food, shelter, and leisure are the most necessities for survival. When all employees get satisfied with physiological needs, the management needs to ensure that their safety needs are also met. For instance, job security, family security, good health, and financial security through proper payments and allowances. Further, employee social needs which include love, friendship, affection, belongingness, and care must be sufficient both within the workplace and their home place (Miner, 2015, p. 100). Also, employees both internal and external self-esteem need to be addressed to motivate them. Such needs include self-respect, freedom, competence, confidence, job recognition, attention, and power. Further, Maslow argues that once all the above employee's needs are met, then they have the opportunity to exploit their full potential, knowledge, creativity, and service delivery at both personal and professional setting.

Cognitive approaches

McGregor came up with theory X and theory Y of management and motivation which are significant principles of developing excellent employees' management styles by the manager. Theory X involves considering individuals as focused on material rewards and prone to free ride. This theory suggests that managers should ensure that staffs get motivated relatively and that their behaviors are implemented carefully through enhancing sanctioning of unproductive behaviors as well as rewarding favorable workers behavior (Maia, 2010, p. 18). Theory Y postulates that personnel aspires to do excellent work and that the primary challenge behind this is the designing of employees reward system to alleviate misalignments that reward wrong behavior as used by the company.

Also, Herzberg came up with the two-factor theory (Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory and dual-factor theory) that postulate that certain factors within the workplace create job satisfaction while other cause employee dissatisfaction (Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman, 2011, p. 44). Herzberg classified these job factors into hygiene and motivational factors. Herzberg argued that hygiene factors for the essential existence of employee motivation within the workplace and these factors include payment, work status, interpersonal relations, fridge benefits, company policies, and job security (Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman, 2011, p. 48). On the other side, the motivational factors are seen to yield positive satisfaction to employees, and these include recognition, promotions, achievement, responsibility, and meaningfulness of the work.

Tolman, Vrrom, and Locke are the main social scientists associated with cognitive approaches. In contrast to physiological theories; the cognitive theories argue that employee motivation is an active response that people have to both internal and external factors within their surroundings. Cognitive theories suggest that motivation is the result of the conscious assessment of individuals efforts and their continuous implications of given actions (Wagner and Hollenbeck, 2014, p. 33). The proponents of cognitive theories state that people only perform certain actions only when they undergo rational processes of judgments that are reasonable based on such actions.

In this regard, Tolman developed a cognitive view of learning called purposive behaviorism. Tolman argues that stimulus-response theory unacceptable since its reinforcement in the workplace is unnecessary for employees training to occur. Tolman’s perception that the stimulus-response was cognitive means that employee learning is acquired through meaningful behavior for both the employer and the employee (Wagner and Hollenbeck, 2014, p. 38). Managers need to ensure that that employee's learning is purposive and goal-oriented and that every personnel is given a chance to learn.

Social-behavioral theories

Further, in Vroom’s expectancy theory; it is assumed that behavior results from the choices that people make from the available alternatives whose aim is maximizing pleasure and lowering pain. Vroom argued that employee performance within an organization depends on individual factors such as knowledge, skills, abilities, personality, and experience (Tan and Waheed, 2011, p. 50). Managers should motivate employees based on their character, knowledge, abilities, and skills when promoting and rewarding them for improving their productivity.


Locke theory of motivation argues by theory of task motivation and incentives. Locke's argument that clarity or goals and appropriateness of feedback motivates employees requires human resource managers to use both goals transparency and input as the main factors to motivating employees and issuing them incentives (Staddon, 2016, p. 66). On the other hand, workers should work towards achieving the set goals to prompt the management to motivate them and this, in turn, improves their morale and performance.

Pavlov, Skinner, and Watson are the main scholars of social, behavioral theories. The social, behavioral methods form the third school of thought by combining two motivational approaches: behavioral and social theories. These two theories assume that individuals get motivated by external factors in the environment (Weiner, 2010, p. 30). The proponents of social, behavioral theories suggest that peoples actions reflect their responses to given stimuli from the outside environment. This postulates that employee social behavior within an organization is a reflection of what they have learned in the environment while growing up.

Pavlov classical social learning theory makes an illustration of dogs summed in neutral stimuli (the bell) and non-neutral stimuli (the food). Based on this demonstration- the food, employees react the same as per their upbringing. When employees are demotivated, they produce no productivity to the organization since they are less committed to undertaking their roles (Weiner, 2010, p. 32). On the other hand, the unconditioned stimuli represent the desire to achieve that personnel has due to motivation by the company.

The theory by BF Skinner postulates that learning is a function of change that occurs in overt behavior. Change in employee behavior as caused by external social factors is the result of an individual’s response to the social events (stimuli) that occur in the environmental surroundings (Weiner, 2013, p. 2). Skinner's theory motivates managers to place special emphasis on the effect that environment has to employees internal workplace behavior as a tool for rewarding them.

Work design


Watson’s theory of human caring is concerned with health promotion, illness prevention, health restoration, and caring for the welfare of people while in the workplace. According to Watson’s theory, companies need to focus on employee health promotion through diseases treatment since this motivates them in their workplace (Weiner, 2013, p. 4). The health of employees is affected by external environmental factors such as pollution, and therefore the company should show responsibility in restoring employee health and welfare.

Employee motivation is an essential aspect of an organization which involves various ways. Motivated employees are more productive, skilled, and willing to gain new skills as compared to the unmotivated personnel. The following are the main methods of employees motivation.

Work Design is an essential method of employees motivation: The design of a job impacts significantly on employees motivation, turnover, commitment to the company, and job satisfaction (Alderman, 2013, p. 77). Companies strive to design the most efficient job design under which employees can get more productive and satisfied within the workplace.

Communication/Participation is also a method that companies use to motivate their staff: The approach of enhancing effective and open communication between the manager and the employees is a more reliable way to employee motivation and raises their morale. Open communication enables employees to increase their ideas, opinions, and perceptions regarding important issues and this helps in decision making (Weiner, 2013, p. 8).

Performance appraisal is another method of motivating workers: When personnel is given targets, they get more motivated to work towards achieving their goals if they receive feedback from their managers about their progress (Elnaga and Imran, 2013, p. 147). Performance appraisal occurs throughout a working day, week, month, and year to give comprehensive feedback to employees on their achievements within a set span of time.

Remuneration is another significant method of employee motivation: The amount of pay, incentives, and fringe benefits that employees earn or receive from their employers motivates them to undertake their duties and responsibilities effectively. The enhancement of employee remuneration plans by a company on an annual basis motivates employees (Weiner, 2013, p. 6). Also, the issuance of bonuses motivates the workers to improve their productivity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, employee motivation is an essential area of psychology that explains why human beings behave in a given manner. The effective application of the theories of motivation by managers motivates employees. Further, companies should design appropriate work designs, remunerate employees fairly, enhance open communication, and undertake employee performance appraisal to motivate their personnel. Therefore, organizations should consider their objectives as well as the characteristics of their workforce when motivating them.

Alderman, M.K., 2013. Motivation for achievement: Possibilities for teaching and learning. Routledge.

Elnaga, A. and Imran, A., 2013. The effect of training on employee performance. European Journal of Business and Management, 5(4), pp.137-147.

Herzberg, F., Mausner, B. and Snyderman, B.B., 2011. The motivation to work (Vol. 1). Transaction publishers.

Latham, G.P., 2012. Work motivation: History, theory, research, and practice. Sage.

Lepper, M.R. and Greene, D. eds., 2015. The hidden costs of reward: New perspectives on the psychology of human motivation. Psychology Press.

Maia, T.V., 2010. Two-factor theory, the actor-critic model, and conditioned avoidance. Learning & behavior, 38(1), pp.50-67.

Miner, J.B., 2015. Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Routledge.

Staddon, J.E., 2016. Adaptive behavior and learning. Cambridge University Press.

Tan, T.H. and Waheed, A., 2011. Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory and job satisfaction in the Malaysian retail sector: The mediating effect of love of money.

Wagner III, J.A. and Hollenbeck, J.R., 2014. Organizational behavior: Securing competitive advantage. Routledge.

Weiner, B., 2010. The development of an attribution-based theory of motivation: A history of ideas. Educational psychologist, 45(1), pp.28-36.

Weiner, B., 2013. Human motivation. Psychology Press.

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