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How to Apply Work Motivation Theories in Organizations

Apr 14, 2023 | 0 comments

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Apr 14, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

It reaches a point when employees keep asking themselves what is in for them-what they stand to gain from their exclusive job performance. Research shows that from the minute they ask themselves that question, they lose focus, concentrate on misplaced priorities and begin to underperform bringing the organization down. Under such circumstances, the organization ought to shift its focus to employee motivation and that is when psychological research findings and theories on work motivation become assets. This paper discuses work motivation theories by different researchers, their usefulness in solving employee motivation problems along with developing the well-being of employees.

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Some organizations hire I/O psychologists that assists in solving problems employees face and the organization as a whole by using their research of human behavior in the work place. Katzenbach (2000) points out that I/O psychologist play a crucial role in the success of the organization and the business as it turns out that the business success does not only depend on high profits but a number of factors, employees’ performance being a major determinant. Katzenbach (2000) goes further, to demonstrate how I/O psychologists apply theories of work motivation to create an environment that is favorable for healthy development of each individual and maximization of each individual’s potentials.

Research by Scheuer (2000) shows that motivation involves understanding human nature and goes ahead to clarify that it is a skill that can be developed. Different researchers have come up with theories referred to as psychodynamic theories. These theories emphasize mutual human traits, job content theories and job context theories (Katzenbach, 2000). Scheuer (2000) adds that as much as these theories are many they all reflect the human behavior at the work place and are related in a way. There are traditional theories- X and Y – proposed by Douglas Mc Gregor with theory X assuming that humans do not like work, responsibility therefore must be forced or controlled or punished, directed to achieve organizations objectives while theory Y makes conflicting assumptions.

In light of recent research, researchers came up classical and modern theories of workers motivation which include, the Process Theory which according to Pinder (2008) says that managers should change the focus from needs to goals and processes by which workers are motivated. It places attention on the dynamics of how the major variables which are individual’s driving force, incentive, expectancy and reinforcement that explains behavior are interrelated in explain the direction, degree and persistent of effort (Pinder, 2008), Content theory that focuses on the specific factors that motivate an individual to work. They identify people’s needs and their relative strengths assuming that everyone responds in the same way to motivating pressures.

Other theories are, Adams equality theory which suggests that a feeling of inequality is determined majorly by the manner in which an individual’s interprets the situation (Pinder, 2008), Handy theory of calculus which suggests that each person has a motivational calculus in respect to every decision they make. It weighs needs, desired results and expenditure factors implying that each individual would be motivated if they knew exactly what is expected of them, participate in setting the targets in accordance with personal objectives and measure their performance by evaluating feedbacks concerning their work as explained by Scheuer (2000), Porter and Lawler’s theory that tend to explain the relationship between the amount of effort generated and the value of the reward, the amount of effort seen to be necessary and the probability of receiving the reward (Pinder, 2008) and, David Mc Clelland’s theory identified need for achievement, affiliation that is concerned with maintaining pleasant social relationship and need for power.

Lastly, Herzberg’s theory of motivation which suggests that there exists set of factors that if lacking leads to dissatisfaction which are related to job context and concerned with the job environment and, are exclusive to the job itself called hygiene which include, company policies and admirations, supervisons,working condition, interpersonal relations and money status and security. Moreover, there are other set of factors if present leads to motivation. They are referred to as motivating factors include and are related to the job content that include achievement, challenging work, increased responsibility, recognition for achievements and growth and development (Pinder, 2008).

Research conducted by Scheuer (2000) indicates that the theories of work motivation have been applied and has had positive impact. Therefore they could be applied by managers to help promote a healthy working environment for all the employee for the success of the organization as well as the well-being of the employees. Implementations of these theories is challenging though vital and have been implemented by most productive and successful companies (Katzenbach, 2000). Most of these theories suggests that employees could be motivated by positive reinforcement, effective discipline and punishment criteria, and fair treatment of all employees to eliminate conflicts that may arise as a result of inequality, satisfying employee needs, setting work related goals, base rewards on job performance and restructuring jobs.

Katzenbach (2000) says that researchers conducted their research by interviewing employees to find out their driving force at work others used questionnaires and complained their findings based on the respondents answers. Pinder (2008) says other researchers picked different organizations and observed the employees’ behavior in regard to their motivational factors drawing conclusion from their analysis and evaluation of these employees. In addition, some researchers gathered information concerning the employees past records and evaluated behavior by psychoanalysis, or by psychotherapy or by administering personality performance or intelligent tests. Some researchers used all the methods in order to come to a valid conclusion as not all methods are effective (Katzenbach, 2000).

Pinder (2008) says that if the work motivation theories are applied appropriately then it would contribute to the well- being of the individual workers as they all focus on promoting healthy development, productivity and creativity. This results to a feeling of happiness and satisfaction. The individual also develops a peaceful mind that in turn assists in reducing chances of stress thus promoting good health.

In conclusion, motivation of workers is imperative for the organization or a business as it promotes productivity and creativity that results to organizational growth and success. Therefore, the application of work motivation theories ought to be taken into consideration and if possible the organization should hire an I/O psychologist to help in the interpretation as well as implementation of these theories. The strategies that would be useful in motivating workers include, treating employees fairly, rewarding employees based on their performance and acknowledging the efforts of employees in developing the organization among others. The theories if implemented promote the healthy development and the well- being of each individual for the benefit of the organization.


Katzenbach, J.R. (2000). Peak performance: Aligning the hearts and minds of your employees. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Pinder, C.C. (2008). Work motivation in organizational behavior. New York. Psychology Press

Scheuer, S. (2000). Social and economic motivation at work: Theories of work motivation reassessed. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.

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