HRM: Implications of Motivation Policies For Employees on Achieving Organizational Goals


Motivation is an internal state that propels individuals to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often understood as a force that explains why people or animals initiate, continue, or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. It is a complex phenomenon and its precise definition is disputed. It contrasts with a motivation, which is a state of apathy or listlessness. Motivation is studied in fields like psychology, motivation science, and philosophy.

Motivational states are characterized by their direction, intensity, and persistence. The direction of a motivational state is shaped by the goal it aims to achieve. Intensity is the strength of the state and affects whether the state is translated into action and how much effort is employed. Persistence refers to how long an individual is willing to engage in an activity. Motivation is often divided into two phases: in the first phase, the individual establishes a goal, while in the second phase, they attempt to reach this goal.

Many types of motivation are discussed in the academic literature. Intrinsic motivation comes from internal factors like enjoyment and curiosity. It contrasts with extrinsic motivation, which is driven by external factors like obtaining rewards and avoiding punishment. For conscious motivation, the individual is aware of the motive driving the behavior, which is not the case for unconscious motivation. Other types include rational and irrational motivation, biological and cognitive motivation, short-term and long-term motivation, and egoistic and altruistic motivation.

Theories of motivation are conceptual frameworks that seek to explain motivational phenomena. Content theories aim to describe which internal factors motivate people and which goals they commonly follow. Examples are the hierarchy of needs, the two-factor theory, and the learned needs theory. They contrast with process theories, which discuss the cognitive, emotional, and decision-making processes that underlie human motivation, like expectancy theory, equity theory, goal-setting theory, self-determination theory, and reinforcement theory. Motivation is relevant to many fields. It affects educational success, work performance, athletic success, and economic behavior. It is further pertinent in the fields of personal development, health, and criminal law.

Definition, measurement, and semantic field

Motivation is often understood as an internal state or force that propels individuals to engage and persist in goal-directed behavior. Motivational states explain why people or animals initiate, continue, or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. Motivational states are characterized by the goal they aim for, as well as the intensity and duration of the effort devoted to the goal. Motivational states have different degrees of strength. If a state has a high degree then it is more likely to influence behavior than if it has a low degree. Motivation contrasts with amotivation, which is a lack of interest in a certain activity or a resistance to it. In a slightly different sense, the word “motivation” can also refer to the act of motivating someone and to a reason or goal for doing something. It comes from the Latin term movere (to move).

The traditional discipline studying motivation is psychology. It investigates how motivation arises, which factors influence it, and what effects it has.Motivation science is a more recent field of inquiry focused on an integrative approach that tries to link insights from different subdisciplines. Neurology is interested in the underlying neurological mechanisms, such as the involved brain areas and neurotransmitters. Philosophy aims to clarify the nature of motivation and understand its relation to other concepts.

Motivation is not directly observable but has to be inferred from other characteristics. There are different ways to do so and measure it. The most common approach is to rely on self-reports and use questionnaires. They can include direct questions like “how motivated are you?” but may also inquire about additional factors in relation to the goals, feelings, and effort invested in a particular activity. Another approach is based on external observation of the individual. This can concern studying behavioral changes but may also include additional methods like measuring brain activity and skin conductance.

Academic definitions

Many academic definitions of motivation have been proposed but there is little consensus on its precise characterization. This is partly because motivation is a complex phenomenon with many aspects and different definitions often focus on different aspects. Some definitions emphasize internal factors. This can involve psychological aspects in relation to desires and volitions or physiological aspects regarding physical needs. For example, John Dewey and Abraham Maslow use a psychological perspective to understand motivation as a form of desire while Jackson Beatty and Charles Ransom Gallistel see it as a physical process akin to hunger and thirst.

Some definitions stress the continuity between human and animal motivation, but others draw a clear distinction between the two. This is often emphasized by the idea that human agents act for reasons and are not mechanistically driven to follow their strongest impulse.[20] A closely related disagreement concerns the role of awareness and rationality. Definitions emphasizing this aspect understand motivation as a mostly conscious process of rationally considering the most appropriate behavior. Another perspective emphasizes the multitude of unconscious and subconscious factors responsible.

Other definitions characterize motivation as a form of arousal that provides energy to direct and maintain behavior. For instance, K. B. Madsen sees motivation as “the ‘driving force’ behind behavior” while Elliott S. Vatenstein and Roderick Wong emphasize that motivation leads to goal-oriented behavior that is interested in consequences. The role of goals in motivation is sometimes paired with the claim that it leads to flexible behavior in contrast to blind reflexes or fixed stimulus-response patterns. This is based on the idea that individuals use means to bring about the goal and are flexible in regard to what means they employ. According to this view, the feeding behavior of rats is based on motivation since they can learn to traverse through complicated mazes to satisfy their hunger, which is not the case for the stimulus-bound feeding behavior of flies.

Some psychologists define motivation as a temporary and reversible process. For example, Robert A. Hinde and John Alcock see it as a transitory state that affects responsiveness to stimuli. This approach makes it possible to contrast motivation with phenomena like learning which bring about permanent behavioral changes.

Another approach is to provide a very broad characterization to cover many different aspects of motivation. This often results in very long definitions by including many of the factors listed above. The multitude of definitions and the lack of consensus have prompted some theorists, like psychologists B. N. Bunnell and Donald A. Dewsbury, to doubt that the concept of motivation is theoretically useful and to see it instead as a mere hypothetical construct.

One way that managers can motivate employees is to actively involve them in the decision-making process. When workers feel that they are directly tied to the results of the business, they’re often more eager to do their part to help the company. Another common motivation policy is to offer bonuses or other financial incentives, such as profit-sharing plans.

Finally, a nonmonetary motivation policy can work also, such as promotions, days off or public events to recognize the progress of employees. The main purpose is to give employees something to look forward to as a result of working hard for the company.

Motivation Policy for Employees 

It is important to enact policies to motivate your workers throughout their employment. Motivation is the process of getting employees fired up about their job and eager to help the company succeed. This is not just for the employee’s benefit — an employee motivation plan is crucial to a company’s overall success.

Employee motivation is directly linked to productivity. You can relate the need for motivation to your own personal tasks. For instance, if you’re not motivated to clean up your house it may take forever for you to get up, start tidying up and finish the job. But if you know your parents are coming over that is a motivator to help get you started.

Employers use this same concept when attempting to motivate employees — the motivation policy is usually tied to some type of future goal or aspiration. It is important to use positive reinforcement. As Tyler Mitchell, CEO of an incentives company, says, “…an organization should strive to utilize positive reinforcement as opposed to punishment to motivate employees.”

Enacting a policy

Once you decide on your motivation method (or methods) the next step is to write it into an official policy for your company to follow. Consult with all managers and review the policy for potential issues before putting it into writing. If the motivation policy involves compensation, go over the plan with your accounting team to determine a compensation schedule that the company can afford. Incorporate the new motivation policy into your employee manual and also distribute it to employees (including managers) as a memo.

Other Considerations

If the motivation techniques you have chosen do not work, don’t be afraid to adjust the policy later. Get feedback from workers both before and after you enact the policy so that you can make smart decisions. Listen to your employees every step of the way to develop an employee motivation policy that increases both productivity and profits over time.

 Motivation in the workplace

Employees who feel motivated tend to take the initiative, develop creative solutions to problems and even inspire coworkers to give their best performances as well. Demotivated employees don’t do any of that. Rather, they tend to put in lackluster performances that can seriously damage your bottom line. According to a Gallup poll, U.S. businesses lose approximately $960 billion-to-$1.2 trillion each year as a result of poor employee motivation. However, even the most upbeat employees need a certain type of company culture to thrive. As a manager or business owner, cultivating and developing motivation in the workplace could be the key to employee retention and the overall success of your business.

Strategies For Employee Motivation

One of the best ways to motivate employees is to recognize a job well done. Recognition motivates many people. It shows employees that their managers pay attention to and value their work. Recognition can be as simple as giving praise during a routine meeting, or it can be as elaborate as a luxury vacation package or a bonus.

Recognition also helps employees feel like they are good at what they do and make a difference within the company. Feedback is also vital to many employees. You may be in the habit of giving employees periodic formal reviews, but remember to keep an open line of communication with your employees to provide ongoing, timely praise and constructive criticism as well.

Also, lead by example. When you, as the business owner or manager, have a positive attitude and always give your best effort, your employees feel motivated to follow in your footsteps. If, on the other hand, you give up halfway through projects and continually talk about how the company is doomed to fail, then you can’t blame your employees for having a lackluster work ethic or gloomy attitude. Why should they try hard if it doesn’t matter?

Motivation in the workplace is the magic that inspires employees to improve their abilities and do an even better job. It is also the key contributing factor to employees’ overall growth and leads to their advancement within the organization. A motivated workforce ultimately leads to the company’s growth so make employee motivation the centerpiece of your company culture and a key management strategy for best result

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