Work Motivation

Published 19 Aug 2017

Recent research reveals that good performance on the job is closely related to motivation. In fact, according to Tosi, Mero, and Rizzo (2000) “… motivation is an explanation of why some organizations are more productive than others” (p. 123). An understanding of the various factors that play a role in work motivation and influence performance is crucial to employers.

Therefore, over the years work motivation has been the focal point of many studies as organizations recognize its value and give it due importance.
According to Pinder, “Work motivation is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behavior, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration” (as cited in Muchinsky, 2006, p. 381). Motivated workers work harder and put in more effort into their task consequently performing better at their jobs than less motivated co-workers. Some of the factors that influence motivation are discussed below.


The practice of enforcing deadlines in organizations has the effect of markedly enhancing performance. This is because workers are motivated to expend the effort needed to complete the task at hand in order to meet the deadline. There is pressure to complete the work in the allotted time and this prompts employers to pull up their socks, work harder and avoid procrastination. Moreover, the fear of being reprimanded for failing to meet the deadline serves as a good motivator. However, while organizations need to be strict in enforcing deadlines they must also be reasonable in providing sufficient time to complete the task as otherwise, the pressure becomes insurmountable and employees will become unduly stressed and are likely to turn in substandard results. Nowadays, most organizations recognize the value of deadlines in motivating their employees and try to use it in order to extract the best results.

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Setting goals for employees give them a sense of purpose and direction as they will strive to achieve it and are more likely to perform their jobs with commitment and increased focus. For example, a lawyer attempting to make partner in his firm tends to perform better than one who has no such goal in sight and is content to drift aimlessly. It is important to set realistic goals as failure to meet the target usually results in bitter frustration and low self – esteem which would detract from job performance in the long run. In addition to working towards their goals, the promise of a reward for achieving the goal and positive feedback on a job well done contribute to better performance.

Job Design

Ideally, by combining the tenets of the scientific – management and human – management approaches, jobs should be relatively easy to perform and sufficiently challenging to sustain interest (Kalat, 2005). Jobs that are too simple or too hard dampen enthusiasm as they result in boredom and excessive stress respectively that ultimately lead to poor performance. But if jobs are designed taking these factors into consideration, employees not only perform their jobs well but enjoy it and are unlikely to quit. A stimulating work environment, along these lines, is imperative in order to curb the debilitating efforts of monotony, boredom, and stress.

Job Satisfaction

High job satisfaction leads to optimal performance as it creates a sense of achievement and contentment. It prevents absenteeism and improves attitudes. According to Kalat (2005), “…job satisfaction depends largely on the job itself, including the interest level, the pay, coworkers, and the management” (p. 441) . Adequate payment, challenging tasks and satisfactory relationships with co-workers as well as the organization contribute to job satisfaction. Employees need to feel they are doing something useful with their lives and are receiving sufficient remuneration for their services in order to combat the restlessness that is such an integral part of human nature and which has a disruptive influence on performance.


Employees are motivated to work harder when they respect and admire their leader. A good leader is one who inspires his team and spurs them on to greater heights. Such leaders are invaluable to organizations. Ineffectual leaders, on the other hand, are detrimental to the overall efficiency of individuals as well as organizations. Leaders who fire the imagination of their workers in order to improve performance are called transformational leaders and they are the most effective. On the other hand, transactional leaders who use rewards to the best effect have also proven to be effective depending on the circumstances (Kalat, 2005).

The Uses of Work Motivation

Work motivation is mainly used to extract optimal performance from employees. Motivation can be increased by making the job more challenging. Organizations achieve this by enforcing deadlines, setting goals and designing a stimulating work environment. By training employees sufficiently and by providing conducive working conditions, the management ensures strong motivation and performance. Rewards, monetary or otherwise are also used to provide added incentive and to promote job satisfaction. By means of questionnaires and aptitude tests, organizations attempt to find good leaders who are capable of bringing out the best in their team members. In conclusion, it may be said that acknowledging the potential for work motivation to improve performance has revolutionalized the organizational work dynamite.


  • Kalat, J. (2005). Work motivation. Introduction to psychology (438 – 443). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  • Muchinsky, P. (2006). Work motivation. Psychology applied to work: An introduction to industrial and organizational psychology (8th ed.). (380 – 418) . Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  • Tosi, H. L., Mero, N. P., & Rizzo, J. R. (2000). Theories of motivation. Managing organizational behavior (4th ed.). (121 – 164) . Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing.
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