Monday, September 14, 2009

Understanding Employee Motivation

From: Understanding what motivated employees and how they were motivated was the focus of many researchers following the publication of the Hawthorne Study results (Terpstra, 1979). Five major approaches that have led to our understanding of motivation are Maslow's need-hierarchy theory, Herzberg's two- factor theory, Vroom's expectancy theory, Adams' equity theory, and Skinner's reinforcement theory. According to Maslow, employees have five levels of needs (Maslow, 1943): physiological, safety, social, ego, and self- actualizing. Maslow argued that lower level needs had to be satisfied before the next higher level need would motivate employees. Herzberg's work categorized motivation into two factors: motivators and hygienes (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). Motivator or intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, produce job satisfaction. Hygiene or extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, produce job dissatisfaction. Vroom's theory is based on the belief that employee effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964). Rewards may be either positive or negative. The more positive the reward the more likely the employee will be highly motivated. Conversely, the more negative the reward the less likely the employee will be motivated. Adams' theory states that employees strive for equity between themselves and other workers. Equity is achieved when the ratio of employee outcomes over inputs is equal to other employee outcomes over inputs (Adams, 1965). Skinner's theory simply states those employees' behaviors that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated and behaviors that lead to negative outcomes will not be repeated (Skinner, 1953). Managers should positively reinforce employee behaviors that lead to positive outcomes. Managers should negatively reinforce employee behavior that leads to negative outcomes.

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