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Research Proposal on Motivation

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Motivation has been defined as the individual, internal process that energizes, directs and sustains behavior. In other words, motivation is the force that causes people to behave in a particular way, whether positive or negative. A very important aspect associated with motivation is the employee’s morale, which is the attitude or feeling about the job, about superiors and about the firm itself. This means that an employee with a high morale will be more dedicated and loyal to the job. High morality of the employee results from different positive aspects to the job and the firm, for example, being recognized in the workplace and being financially secured. In short, motivation is the process of providing reasons for people to work in the best interests of the organization.

There have been several historical perspectives on motivation that only focused on what motivated an employee rather than on why and/or how motivation is developed. Highlighting the above-mentioned theories may give a good base for comparison with the more modern methods to studying motivation.

One of the above mentioned historical views on motivation was known to be called Scientific Management which applied scientific principles to the management of work and workers. Frederick Taylor suggested a system that was very simple and that did not address the other ways of motivation except for pay. He came to this concept after he noticed that workers were ‘soldiered’ where employees worked slowly in fear of losing their job or running out of work. Taylor suggested that jobs should be broken down into separate tasks. He believed that jobs will be performed best and that output was expected from the job. At that time, he suggested the piece-rate system for compensation to the working employees, where employees are paid a certain amount for each unit they produce. This theory only emphasized the pay aspect of how to motivate employees. This is a drawback because people work for other reasons than pay.

Later the Hawthorne studies were carried out. This theory was named after the plant where it was conducted and it determined the effect of work environment on employee productivity. Two experiments were done, one was by variance in lighting and the other studied the effectiveness of the piece-rate system. In the first experiment, two groups were researched with reducing the light for one of the groups. The result was that productivity increased for both groups. The second experiment, researchers expected that productivity will increase because faster workers would put pressure on slower employees. The end result was that output remained constant. The Hawthorne studies concluded that the human factor caused the results of the two experiments. In the lighting experiment the ‘sense of involvement’ increased productivity. This means that as workers were asked to join in the research they felt they were important. In the piece-rate experiment, each worker in the group informally set the acceptable rate of output of the group to gain or keep the ‘social acceptance’ of the group. In the end, the final result of these studies showed that happy workers perform best because they are motivated. This proves that there are other ways because not everyone is pleased by the same means.

MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS Another theory was the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is based on the concept that people act to fulfill five levels of needs, which are personal requirements from the most important to the least important. The five categories of needs from the most important are: Physiological needs (the need to attain basic human needs, for example food, shelter), Safety needs (the need for physical and emotional security, for example job security, health insurance), Social needs (the need for a sense of belonging), Esteem needs (the need for respect and recognition of others) and Self actualization (the need to grow, develop and become all that he/she is capable of). However, needs at one level do not have to be fully satisfied before the next need. This means that one does not have to satisfy his/her basic needs before trying to attain feeling of safety in the job or firm itself. This theory holds that motivation to work arises from a variety of social, psychological and economic forces. People need income to pay their bills, feel that they have a role in society and also feel a sense of achievement. As it may seem to some people, the more a worker gets paid, the more encouragement that worker has to work more hours and produce more output. However, not everyone works for money. A large percentage of workers say they would continue to work even if they had enough money to live comfortably without working. Another aspect of happiness from labor is the non-monetary incentives the environment that is being worked in. People prefer to work in a safe, pleasantly colorful environment. In short, there are many different reasons why people get up and go to work each morning and the levels of satisfaction differs from one person to another.


Another theory was the Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene theory holds the idea that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are completely separate issues. In other words, not that low pay can cause an employee to feel bad, a high pay will make him happy. Herzberg believes that there are two factors with regard to his theory. Motivation factors are the job factors that if present increase motivation but whose absence does not necessarily result in dissatisfaction. They include achievement, recognition, growth etc. These aspects are called satisfiers if present. On the other hand, Hygiene factors are the job factors that decrease dissatisfaction when present. They include supervision, working conditions, job security. Herzberg believes that there is no dissatisfaction because at any time there must be an employee who is not happy.

Another study of motivation was called Theory X and Theory Y, where X and Y are opposites. Theory X is a concept of employee motivation in a way relevant to the scientific management approach mentioned earlier. It assumes that employees dislike work and will function only in a highly controlled work environment. This means that managers should make all decisions and employees take all the orders, i.e. managers should lead autonomic way. On the other hand, Theory Y assumes that employees accept responsibility and work toward organizational goals if by so doing, they also achieve personal rewards.

The Reinforcement theory is also considered to be one

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of the historical views on motivation. It is based on the idea that if behavior is rewarded, it is likely to be repeated, whereas behavior that is punished is less likely to occur again. This is because positive reaction by managers to any employee’s work strengthens the desired behavior, for example, through pay raise, recognition from superiors etc. On the other hand, negative reactions or punishments eliminate an undesirable task or situation.

As mentioned earlier there are new methods to motivation that include the Equity theory, Expectancy theory and Goal setting. Equity theory is based on the idea that employees are motivated to obtain the same treatment as others for themselves. This theory is most relevant with pay. It holds the concept that distribution of rewards should be associated with the employee’s contribution to the organization. This theory is exercised with employees when they compare themselves with friends or co-workers and according to the results, they attempt to equalize by for example, increasing or decreasing output. The Expectancy theory is based on the assumption that motivation depends on how much a person wants something and how likely they think they will get it. The Goal-setting theory is a motivation theory suggesting that employees are motivated to achieve goals they and their managers establish together. By allowing employees to participate in goal setting, they will in return be more motivated because they will feel important.

There are several techniques for increasing employee motivation. They provide motivation by satisfying employee’s less tangible needs, for example if an organization provides its employees with gift certificates to restaurants or large stores, it will boost their morale and therefore increase motivation and job satisfaction.

Management by Objectives (MOB) is a motivation technique in which managers and employees collaborate in setting goals. It is effective because management involvement reflects the mission of the organization. It motivates employees to get more involved in their jobs and in the organization as a whole. MBO clarifies the roles of the employees that are expected to reach organizational goals and allows them to participate and therefore motivation is increased.

Job enrichment is another method of motivating employees by providing them with variety in their tasks while giving them some responsibility and control of the job. In other words, the employees’ skills are broadened. Job enlargement (which is expanding a worker’s assignments to include additional but similar tasks) can lead to job enrichment. Job redesign is a type of job enrichment, where work is restructured in ways that develop the worker-job match. This can be accomplished by combining tasks and/or by forming work groups, in order to show employees how the work fits in the organization.

Behavior modification is a systematic program of reinforcement to encourage desirable behavior. It involves both rewards and punishments. Rewards for quality, productivity and loyalty may change employees’ behavior in desired ways and also increase motivation. This can be accomplished by managers if they compare target behavior with existing level and provide rewards or punishments accordingly.

Allowing employees to work more flexible hours is another way to build motivation and job satisfaction. Flextime is a system in which employees set their own work hours within employer-determined limit. There are two types of time: core time is when all employees must be at work and flexible time is when employees choose whether to work. This has to be in process under a condition that all employees must work a total of 8 hours per day. The motivating factor in using flextime is the sense of independence employees’ gain from saying when to work. However, this method has the drawback that superiors find the job more complicated by having employees come and go at different times.

Part-time work is the permanent employment in which individuals work less than a standard work week. However, this method does not provide the benefits of a full-time job. Job sharing (also known as work sharing) is the arrangement where two people share one full-time job or position. It combines the security of a full-time position with the flexibility of a part-time job. However, it will never be effective if the two people involved do not communicate well.

Telecommuting is working at home all of the time or for a part of the workweek. It can be accomplished through computers, modems, fax machines, cellular phones etc. Individuals can therefore set their own hours and have more time with their families. There are other benefits to this method –such as lower travel costs, reduced employee absenteeism or turnover, increased work/life balance and improved morale. However, telecommuting can lead to feelings of isolation on the employees’ sides or difficulty in monitoring productivity on the supervisors’ sides.

Empowerment means making employees more involved in their jobs and in the operations of the organization by increasing their participation in decision making. This means that employees have a say in what they do, and how and when they do it. Therefore employees must work with managers in order to set the goals and communicate standards. However, there are barriers to this method which include lack of employee training, distrust of management on the part of workers and poor communication between management and employees.

Self-managed work teams are groups of employees with the authority and skills to manage themselves. This help increase motivation as employees have more task variety and more job control. When this method is implemented correctly, the employees in those work teams have higher morale, increased productivity and sometimes innovation. Intensive training should be done in order for such work teams to be successful.

Employee ownership is a situation in which employees own the company they work for by being stockholders. This means that when the company enjoys increased sales, the employees benefit directly. This method encourages employees to be more productive in their work areas in an attempt to increase the overall productivity of the organization and hence gain from its returned income directly. This means that employees are motivated to work and produce more for their own benefit at the end.


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