Motivation in the workplace is one of the major concerns that managers face when trying to encourage their employees to work harder and do what is expected of them on a day-to-day basis. According to Organizational Behavior by John R. Schermerhorn, James G. Hunt and Richard N. Osborn the definition of motivation is "the individual forces that account for the direction, level, and persistence of a person's effort expended at work." They go on to say that "motivation is a key concern in firms across the globe." Through the years there have been several theories as to what motivates employees to do their best at work. In order to better understand these theories we will apply them to a fictitious organization that has the following three types of employees: salespeople, production workers, and administrative staff. We will discuss which of these theories would or would not be most effective to motivate these employee groups and try to explain why. The motivation theories that will be discussed are: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, ERG (Aldefer), Two-Factor Theory (Herzberg), Equity Theory (Adams), and the Expectancy Theory (Vroom). Let's start with salespeople.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory says that there are five levels of individual needs from self-actualization and esteem at the top levels, to social, safety and physiological levels at the bottom. Maslow felt that some of these needs are more important than others and that the important ones must be satisfied before the rest of a person's needs can be satisfied. Since a salespersons basic responsibility is to sell merchandise this motivational theory would not be a good choice for an organization to use to motivate them. The reason for this is because s...
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...nt from one culture to another and even from one individual to another.
Clayton Alderfer's ERG theory emphasizes a unique frustration-regression component. This means a lower-level need can become activated when a higher-level need cannot be satisfied. This would not be a good motivation theory for administrative staff since their goal is to usually get ahead.
Both the Equity and Expectancy theories focus on thought processes. The equity theory may or may not motivate administrative staff depending on how each individual perceives the fairness of their work outcomes relative to others. The Expectancy theory does not specify which rewards will motivate particular groups of workers. Individual motivation directly determines work effort, and the key to motivation is the ability to create a work setting that positively responds to individual needs and goals.
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