Employees are the heart of an organization. For any organization to operate smoothly, employee motivation must be continuously encouraged within a company or an organization to achieve peak success. How employees feel and think about the job or work that they are performing and the outcomes from that job directly affects an organization’s effectiveness. Employee motivation and performance are important factors in moving an organization ahead, therefore, it is essential to focus on how and what causes employees to become motivated or de-motivated in the workplace. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the de-motivating and motivational factors that negatively and positively affect the overall productivity and performance of an employee or organization. Research is applied to understand the effect of employee motivation on performance, and the relationship between employee motivation and productivity involving several variables such as, motivational theories, intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, communication, teamwork and goal setting effectiveness.
Keywords: Employee motivation, organizational performance, communication, productivity.
Motivation is a strong force. Employees are driven through encouragement and reward to achieve challenging goals. They can also be driven to be dishonest when they experience unfairness or are threatened by unobtainable goals (Robbins ; Judge, 2018). Employee motivation has always been a main issue for organization managers and leaders. Employees who are unmotivated are likely to spend little to no effort in their work, avoid the workplace as much as possible, performing a lousy job or producing low quality work, and leave their companies if given the chance to. On the contrary, employees who feel motivated carry out their work to the best of their ability and are likely to be productive, innovative, persistent, and have a sense of direction, turning out high quality work that they willingly take on to attain their goals (Ganta, 2014).
Motivation is one of the most frequently researched topics in organizational behavior, and it still remains a problem and a struggle within organizations to this day. In one conducted survey, 69 percent of employees reported wasting time at their jobs every day, and almost a quarter said they waste between 30 and 60 minutes each day (Robbins ; Judge, 2018). Unmotivated/motivated employees have a significant impact on the productivity, retention and performance of an organization.
Organizations strive to be successful. Therefore, despite companies’ size or market, they aim to retain the best employees, who recognize their important role and influence on organizational effectiveness. By understanding the theories, needs, values and expectations that motivation emerges from, organizations must learn how to overcome employee motivation challenges by creating a solid and definite relationship with its employees and direct them towards task attainment (Dobre, 2013).
Reasons for the Problem
There are multiple theories, factors, framework and models as well as how a job is structured that influence motivation and effort within individuals (Robbins & Judge, 2018).
Hierarchy of Needs
A well-known theory of motivation is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that has received wide recognition and was validated by some research. This theory hypothesizes that there are five levels of needs for humans. These needs are Physiological, Safety-security, Social belongingness, Esteem, and Self-actualization. Each level of need becomes dominant once another level is satisfied (Robbins ; Judge, 2018). According to Maslow, employees have different needs and expectations, and you wouldn’t be able to motivate someone with positive feedback, which is an esteem factor, if their basic work stability or job security isn’t met.
Self-determination and efficacy
An example of a motivational reason is an employee’s self-determination. When an employee feels like they don’t have any control over their work that they do. Meaning that employees do not enjoy their job anymore and think that doing a task is a matter of obligation rather than a job that is done with their own voluntary choice, and it causes them to become unmotivated to perform their work (Robbins ; judge, 2018). Another intrinsic reason is ones self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is when someone thinks that they are capable of successfully performing a certain task. An employee’s sense of capability affects their perception, accomplishment and motivation. Employees with low self-efficacy tend to set low goals for themselves and may put in less effort when trying to learn and achieving complicated tasks, because they are uncertain if their attempts will lead to success and are likely to give up when problems arise (Lunenburg, 2011).
People have perceptions about the way they are treated in comparison to others. Individuals are not only concerned with the amount of rewards they receive for their efforts, but are also concerned with the amount of what others receive as well. They reflect on how much effort and input they have expended and compare that to their outcomes such as salary levels, promotions, acknowledgment, etc. When there is unfairness in their input-outcome ratio relative to others, tension is created and individuals are demotivated. This tension yields the bases for motivation, as people aim for what they see as equity and fairness (Muogbo, 2013).
Training and communication is crucial to an organization. If an employee feels that management is not communicating in an orderly manner, it demotivates them to improve their performance at their job and diminishes their teamwork and spirit, which is very imperative for a smooth functioning organization (Rajhans, 2012). The absence of teamwork means that employees will be looking to work on their own interests over the company and would cause a decrease in employee’s innovation.
Employees have trouble being motivated when they have weak expectations of a given outcome. People feel motivated to do their job when they expect to be rewarded in return for their achievements. Individuals are demotivated when they do not believe that the level of effort they put in their jobs will lead to a good performance appraisal or organizational rewards such as good feedback, promotions, salaries or awards that would satisfy their personal goals. This leads to employees doing the bare minimum that is only necessary to get by and do not really put in the work (Robbins ; Judge, 2018).
Effects of the Problem
Motivation is a huge influence on the direction and persistence of action. Employers who do not have good communication with their employees to help them identify themselves with their work and with the organization lead to lack of motivation, which may cause low morale, low performance and productivity (Rajhans, 2012). De-motivators drain employees, decreasing their morale and wasting human creativity, which is a valuable resource in organizations.
Unmotivated employees, who do not have a sense of accomplishment and achievement and do not expect rewards for their efforts for instance, develop negative attitudes in the workplace. Thereby, decreasing their drive for performance and productivity (Ganta, 2014). Similarly, demotivation caused by lack of communication from management and staff members discourages and weakens relationships with members of the organization, affecting employee motivation and teamwork, and leads to minimum productivity (Rajhans, 2012).
Efficiency is the ability of an organization to manage their objectives the least amount of resources (Robbins ; Judge, 2018). An unmotivated employee does not participate within the organization and believe that they cannot perform a task successfully. People with low achievement motivation are worried about the work environment and they focus on how others perceive them rather than considering their job efficiency (Dobre, 2013). Unmotivated employees do not consider the time and cost that their organization sustains to accomplish the expected goals and objectives.
Motivation greatly affects performance, which is a big structure in which concepts such as effectiveness fall. Workers who aren’t able to relate their personal ambitions with those of the organization can affect the effectiveness and quality of an organization. This lack of drive to exert effort in the workplace elicits negative behavior such as withholding efforts, lowering performance, turnover, higher incidence of absenteeism and tardiness (Rajhans, 2012). These circumstances cause other employees to take on the tasks left by their other coworkers, which decreases effectiveness.
Employees who are not motivated lack internal goals or do not have clear intentions to reach a certain goal. Having no specific goals to be committed to and work towards to results in lower performances. Unmotivated employees do not see a clear link between efforts and results. These lead to uncommitted employees who do not believe that they can achieve a realistic and attainable goal, or even have a desire to achieve a goal (Robbins & Judge, 2018).
Possible Solution #1
A possible solution for demotivation is to implement effective communication. Organizational communication has huge effects on employee motivation. Managers should provide feedback, value their employees and understand the importance of employee motivation in maintaining the productivity and effectiveness of an organization. When an employee feels like leaders and managers put in the effort to communicate with its employees, they develop a sense of belonging towards the organization. Managers and leaders should understand the role of communication in employee motivation, as “sometimes even the most basic communication errors can lead to employee dissatisfaction” (Rajhans, 2012). Internal communication plays a very important role in the implementation of motivational applications.
Possible Solution #2
Another possible solution is extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Employees are likely to pursue goals and are more motivated and satisfied with their job when they especially have intrinsic interests (Robbins & Judge, 2018). Recognition, aside from material or financial awards, is also regarded as a powerful means to stimulate motivation among employees. Although financial rewards are useful in motivating employees, intrinsic motivation in studies have also “revealed that several people had achieved significant success with recognition as opposed to rewards” (Tabassi, Ramli & Bakar, 2011).
Possible Solution #3
Goal directedness is another possible solution for motivation. Goal directedness is a critical role of leaders. Goal setting theory suggests that having clear and challenging goals increase motivation. Setting goals with management by objectives is a systematic way to utilize a goal. It sets goals that are concrete, empirical and measurable (Robbins & Judge, 2018). Managers should engage the idea of strategic planning and the importance of clarifying missions and objectives and to recognize how goal ambiguity affects employee motivation and how their efforts to communicate a mission can clarify goals (Cho & Perry, 2011).
Based on the research, instructing leaders on the results of communication would be the most effective way to improve and inspire motivation among employees in an organization. The reason for this is because almost everything starts with communication. Communication helps an organization in a very important way by increasing employee understanding, self-actualization, self-esteem, building trust, engagement and improving performance. To motivate an employee, the employee’s needs have to be understood, and to be able to understand an employee’s needs; there must be communication between managers, staff members and employees. Communication can take on many shapes within an organization and has an enduring effect on employee motivation. Developing good communication in an organization is beneficial for developing team spirit and efficient teamwork. An ongoing communication is the infrastructure for employee motivation and organizational success in a company. When employees have clear understandings of their objectives and expectations, receiving good feedback from their company or organization on their task performance, therefore, improving their performance based on the feedback, and overall feeling like the organization puts in the effort to understand their employees and their needs, employees perform better as well as obtaining a sense of belonging, commitment and loyalty.
Communication also plays a huge role in implementing the suggested possible solutions previously mentioned, by understanding how different strategies motivate employees differently, since not all individuals are the same. This also includes one-to-one communication and understanding what employees expect from their jobs, as well as communicating goal setting and planning within the organization. These factors improve an employee’s overall satisfaction, motivation and commitment. Thus, improving the effectiveness, performance and productivity of an organization.