A lot has changed in the perception of employees and how they contribute to the overall success of the organization. Since the Hawthorne Studies conducted between 1924 and 1932 the concept of employee motivation has been expanded to include human relationships. Thus, the relationships that employers have with their employees are considered an end in itself.
Overall there are four good theories that help explain what motivates employees. They include Herzberg’s two-factor theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory, Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory and Skinner’s positive reinforcement theory. Each of these theories tells us how and why employees are motivated. It gives employers a good chance to improve overall efficiency and motivation within their business.
Herzberg’s two-factor theory: Motivators and de-motivators are defined as job satisfaction factors and job dissatisfaction factors (Herzber, Mausner & Snyderman, 1959). Motivating factors include achievement and recognition while de-motivating factors include pay and job security. Thus to take team members to new heights in motivation and productivity it is necessary to recognize them.
Vroom’s Theory: The actions that we take in life can either lead to positive consequences or negative consequences. Thus if we take a course of action that will lead to a reward we are more likely to be motivated the higher the reward (Vroom, 1964). Likewise a negative action can lead to punishment which will reduce motivation to carry out an action.
Maslow’s Hierarchy: Maslow’s theory states that people are indifferent levels of satisfying their needs (Maslow, 1943). At the lower end people are trying to find food, security, and clothing. On the upper end of human development people are trying to self-actualize by doing things they enjoy and fulfill them. Thus giving people tasks they enjoy will lead to more motivation.
Skinner’s Positive Reinforcement Theory: Skinner states that those behaviors that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated while those that lead to negative outcomes will be less likely to be repeated (Skinner, 1953). Thus giving people rewards, discipline and special perks will likely affect the chances they will work hard and productively.
Why are all these theories important? These theories tell us that rewarding and recognizing employees is important to getting them to repeat positive behavior, be motivated and work for the company good. Punishing them, taking away rewards and criticism will reduce the likelihood that bad behavior will be repeated. Using both positive and negative actions together works the best. Pay is not a motivator in and of itself.