McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

Staff Motivation and Inspiration

Successful managers and companies around the world today are aware of the fact that people are vital to the success or failure of the company. Many Fortune 500 companies now include their human resources under 'assets' of the company. One can see companies becoming increasingly people-oriented, providing training and technology and investing in people. Rather than spending most of their time setting profit-goals, top-level executives of outstanding service organizations spend their time understanding that in the new economics of service, frontline workers and customers need to be the centre of management concern (Jerome and Kleiner, 1995).

The study of motivation is a science in itself, which incorporates aspects of human psychology, social and cultural factors and individual values and beliefs (Glen, 2006). In his paper, Glen (2006) explains that motivation can be either internal (pull factors) or external (push factors). Someone who is externally motivated depends on outside factors to push him or her to complete a task or project, or just to get out of bed and go to work in the morning; for example, the salary or wage packet required to pay the rent and buy the groceries, or perhaps the lure of the perks offered by the company (e.g. company car) or annual bonus. Being able to provide for one's basic necessities in life is a legitimate reason to show up at the office or on the shop floor every day. So, realistically, most employees are somewhat influenced by external motivators. However, it becomes a major productivity problem for companies when external factors provide the only motivation for it's' employees. While life's basic needs mean that most people desire employment, internal motivation is associated with wishing to be employed in a particular position by a firm whose organizational values and work requirements are closely aligned with the personal values and skills of its employees (Glen, 2006). He further goes on to state that internal motivation is associated with reduced employee absence, increased job satisfaction, high levels of creativity and a reduced need for direct supervision. Thus, it logically follows that employees who experience internal motivation enjoy their jobs, get on well with their colleagues and take pride in their work. Successful managers must therefore pay attention to factors that make employees feel valued, important and able.

Appreciation for a job well done is probably the most powerful, yet least costly and most underused motivation tool. Positive feedback follows the principles advocated in Reinforcement Theory, which states that behavior is contingent on reinforcement (Wiley, 1997). Examples of positive reinforcement in this context may include workplace visits by top executives to high-performance employees, personal handwritten notes of thanks accompanying paychecks, and telephone calls by top executives to employees at home (Knippen and Green, 1990; Steele, 1992).

In conclusion, it can be stated that motivating staff to improve involves many interlinking factors. This article has scratched the surface by identifying and describing major factors, each of which has highly practical implications. In any company, matching the right person with the right job, valuing employees and enabling them to make meaningful contributions to the organization are all ways to create a motivated work force (Glen, 2006). Internal motivation creates hard workers because of the kick that employees get from a job well done rather than working solely to pick up a paycheck every month. Managers need to remember that happy, motivated employees not only create good working environments, they also make significant contributions to company profits. It is clear then, that the most successful commercial firms of the twenty-first century will be those willing and able to transform themselves into "new generation organizations". In conclusion, it seems fitting to quote Rabey (2001): "Motivation - the internalized drive towards the dominant thought of the moment. You cannot motivate anyone - you can only create a situation to which individuals will respond because they choose to".

Related Links
To Top