Employee motivation and involvement have been a long-debated topic in the workplace. Whereas some critics state that issues revolving around the topic give employees too much entitlement in the workplace, others agree that the subject is essential in ensuring employees are as productive as possible. There are several ways companies have tried to both motivate and involve their employees.
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Whereas motivation mainly targets the attitude and willingness of the employees to do tasks, involvement ensures buy-in from the employees. The buy-in is considered crucial as it also encourages employees to care about the vision and mission of the company and not just the money they are getting paid. This enhances employee loyalty, the ability to think actively about the future of the company, and progressive thinking about personal growth. This essay looks into the different types of employee motivation and involvement and their advantages and disadvantages.
Types of Employee Motivation and Involvement
Porter et al. argue that there are two types of employee motivation, namely, extrinsic and intrinsic motivations (67). Extrinsic motivation involves giving employees physical incentives so that they can perform better. According to Ma’ruf et al., this is the most common form of motivation in the workplace (80). Some of the things that are often rewarded to deserving employees in an attempt to motivate the workforce include gifts such as holiday retreats, cash vouchers, shopping vouchers, cars, laptops, and even diesel vouchers (Ma’ruf et al. 81). These forms of motivational gifts can be felt and seen by others.
It is important to note that there are some people who would ideally only be motivated by such external factors that they can see and touch. Departmental heads have to come up with a strategy on how to best balance between the external and internal rewards.
On the same note, internal rewards also referred to as intrinsic motivation, stem from emotional and spiritual feelings. These rewards cannot be seen or touched, but they still have a significant impact on the staff. Kim et al. note that verbal appreciation, leadership positions in teamwork, and mutual respect all fall under intrinsic motivation (714). These rewards make the involved staff feel valued among the team.
For example, a manager speaking during the staff tea can commend the efforts of one employee who helped make sure deliveries were made on time that week. Such remarks motivate not only the individual who has been highlighted but also other people looking to receive such remarks about their work. It is important to note that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation help employees push themselves and each other to greater heights.
As mentioned previously, employee involvement normally seeks to ensure there is buy-in from the staff. Wallace et al. suggest various ways in which employee involvement can be enhanced in a workplace, the first being through teamwork (982). Liang-Chih et al. explain that grouping employees into teams allow each individual to strive to contribute within their team (300). Employees are more courageous in this setup as any successes or failures recorded are shared as a team. It is arguable that effective teams consolidate individual strengths to do the work assigned. In turn, this ensures quality and maximum productivity for the team as a whole. The fact that teamwork ensures each individual contributes further enhances the feeling of involvement amongst the employees.
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It is also worth noting that flexible organizational structures are required for effective employee involvement (Srinivasan and Diagram 36). Such an organization would ensure that all employees can speak and interact with their managers and supervisors easily. Therefore, ideas from the staff can be solicited easily. Additionally, this type of structure ensures that employees feel valuable to the company. Towards this end, it not only enhances employee motivation but also ensures that the employees develop a feeling of pride in the organization they are working for as the organization respects them and showcases their original ideas.
Notably, employee motivation and involvement are intertwined. One can argue that employees can indeed be motivated by the level of involvement they are included in their workplace. Also, it is possible that employee involvement can enhance motivation through working as a team and assurance of mutual respect regardless of age or position.
Theories on Employee Motivation and Involvement
There are several theories on employee motivation and involvement. This section of the paper will analyze four theories, two of each element. One of the most common theories on employee motivation is the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which suggests that intrinsic needs have to be met for people to feel motivated. According to Maslow, there are several needs that each individual has, and the fulfillment of these needs motivates the individual to do better (Lee and Sherman 12).
Important to note, according to Maslow, there are five main levels to consider when thinking about motivation. These five factors are self-actualization, esteem, love/belonging, safety, and psychological, normally presented as a pyramid with self-actualization at the top and psychology at the bottom (Lee and Sherman 14). According to the original theory, each element as presented in the pyramid has to be fulfilled in order to move on to the next one.
A second theory that can explain extrinsic motivation is operant conditioning (Domjan 13). The theory suggests that a series of rewards and consequences are necessary to motivate people. The rewards are mainly physical, such as cash vouchers, holiday retreats, and shopping vouchers. Domjan explains that the rewards also motivate other people as their primal want is also to be rewarded (14). It is important to note that the consequences are punishments that aim at also motivating people. For example, when an individual fails to get the yearly bonus due to the fact that she or he did not achieve his or her set targets, he or she will feel motivated to work harder in the next year so as to get the bonus.
The theory of worker participation brings out the importance of employee involvement. Montani et al. explain that worker participation should ideally be at all levels (714). This is also regardless of whether the employee involved is in senior management or junior staff. One of the advantages of worker participation is that it allows a feeling of pride and buy-in from the staff. Notably, the theory suggests that participants should be in terms of decision-making and teamwork. In fact, it is arguable that teamwork is a crucial element in employee involvement. Ideal teams allow all participants involved to contribute towards the achievement of a set goal.
This mandatory participation highlights the strengths of the individual team members while at the same time also showcases the strengths of the team as a whole. Othman et al. confirm that individuals in a team also feel relevant and appreciated as opposed to when they are not in a team (7637). All these work towards motivating team members to be more productive in the workplace.
As mentioned previously, employee motivation and involvement are intertwined. Boxall et al. argue that employees who are involved in different aspects of their organization, not just their day-to-day work, are usually highly motivated (1737). It is arguable that the best way to keep employees motivated is through constantly changing the motivation technique. For example, managers and heads of departments can interchange between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to keep the positive momentum among their staff. Despite this, employee involvement should always be considered as part of employee motivation. This element should be regarded as a mandatory part of employee motivation to both ensure that employees feel like a crucial resource to the company and managers appreciate their workers.
Advantages of Employee Motivation and Involvement
One advantage of employee motivation and involvement is that it allows for an increase in productivity. Regardless of whether the company uses intrinsic, extrinsic, or both, employee motivation and involvement boosts productivity. The increase in performance is important for both individual employees and the company as a whole. First, the individual employees not only get rewarded for their hard work, but they also push themselves to do better. This ensures that their careers are also projected forward as they strive to perform better. On the other hand, the company enjoys an increase in profitability and even quality of work when the employees are motivated and dedicated.
Another advantage of employee motivation and involvement is fewer cases of absenteeism. Madden argues that a significant number of employees go absent from work due to lack of motivation at the workplace (721). In such cases, the employees feel like they would rather stay at home or do other things than go to their workplaces. It is arguable that a toxic work environment can lead to absenteeism as well. Further, employee motivation and involvement can be used to lower worker turnover. Maden confirms that employees will choose to remain in a company that they can not only grow, but that also makes them feel valued (721).
This feeling can be enhanced through the strategic involvement of the employees, as earlier mentioned. Other advantages of motivation and involvement include a better working environment and culture and better relationships between employees.
Disadvantages of Employee Motivation and Involvement
As mentioned previously, there are critics who have claimed that employee motivation and involvement have made employees entitled. One disadvantage of employee motivation and involvement is that it can be costly. This is especially the case with extrinsic motivation. Madden explains that the company has to be ready to increase its overall costs if they choose extrinsic motivation (720). Arguably, decisions on the physical rewards should be considered with the financial implication in mind.
The second disadvantage of employee motivation is that it can create unhealthy competition. This can be the case if the employees believe that the system of rewarding is not genuine. Porter et al. argue that it is imperative for organizations to make their motivation and involvement transparent (70). It is also crucial that all employees understand the importance of the rewarding system that has been selected before it is used. This will curb any unhealthy competition and also ensure that the staff knows how the motivation and involvement benefit them.
Additionally, intrinsic motivation can also be draining for some people. Porter et al. explain that introverts at the workplace, or people who would rather work quietly, will become uncomfortable if they are appreciated in front of other people (71). Also, since the appreciation is expected, it might not always work as desired. One way of resolving this is using different variables for performance for the purposes of rewarding. This will keep the process exciting. Additionally, it is important for human resource departments to understand the individual needs of the staff. Still on the same, the rewarding should ideally be customized to fit the individual needs of the staff.
Whereas some employees might appreciate getting shopping vouchers, others might prefer getting company shares instead. This flexibility will also motivate employees as they would be working towards getting individually customized rewards.
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In conclusion, there are various methods that employers use to both motivate and involve employees. One of the advantages of employee motivation and involvement is that it increases productivity, therefore, also increasing profitability. There are two approaches to employee motivation, namely intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation encourages rewarding exceptional staff through emotional and non-physical ways such as appreciation and mutual respect. On the other hand, extrinsic focuses on the use of physical rewards to motivate staff. Common extrinsic rewards include cash vouchers, holiday retreats, and shopping vouchers. It is important for employers to consider motivation as it can also lower the chances of absenteeism and turnover. Arguably, a suitable working environment will enhance employee motivation.
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