Discuss critically the validity of the contention that the motivation to work well depends on more than a high salary and good working conditions.
1) Discuss critically the validity of the contention that the motivation to work well depends on more than a high salary and good working conditions.
This essay will define what motivation is, the influence and effect that money and good working conditions have on staff and the other factors and issues that motivate staff to work in the context of the workplace.
In order to critically discuss and evaluate what motivates staff in the workplace it is imperative to firstly define the concept of motivation. Motivation can be defined as the force or process which impels people to behave in the way they do; Newcomb (1950) said that an organism is motivated:
“When – and only when – it is characterized both by a state of drive and by a direction of behaviour towards some goal which is selected in preference to all other possible goals. Motive, then is a concept which joins together drive and goal”.
This implies that providing the drive for staff to achieve goals that have been set is a vital and important part of the managerial role.
Although it is apparent that to become or be motivated does not always rely on drive and goals – it can often arise through voluntary action as well. McDougall (1908) made this extension of the concept of motivation to ‘voluntary behaviour’ explicit by suggesting that instincts were the ‘prime movers’ of all human activity. McDougall disagrees with the drive theorists arguing that the instincts of staff in the workplace provide a major source of motivation.
Hebb (1949) also disagrees with the assumptions that directed and persistent behaviour is always preceeded by ‘extra neural bodily irritants’. Hebb claims that ‘the term motivation then refers to: (1) To the existence of an organisational phase sequence, (2) to its direction or content, and (3) to its persistence in a given direction or stability of content. There are obviously many schools of thought and theories on exactly what motivation is and why people are motivated, but it seems that the general consensus opinion lies with Maslow (1970) “Motivation is the force or combination of forces which lead us to behave as we do”. The actual force or forces that motivate will be now be discussed.
Money is an important factor in the motivation of employees, as profit acts as a measure of success of a business, so many people judge their own success or failure and the esteem in which they are held by the employer or the remuneration received for the job done. It must be mentioned that although a high salary is not the only motivator, it can act as an incentive to work more productively;
“Pay buys the goods and services that people want to satisfy other needs. The more boring the job, and the less its intrinsic interest the greater the importance of money as a motivator and incentive to effort”. Hammond (1988).
An organisation offers both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to its employees. It must be realised that pay is only an extinsic reward. Employees derive intrinsic rewards from the job itself, for example an employee may be motivated by the degree of authority given at the work place or the sense of achievement derived from completing their task (achievement motivation). Intrinsic rewards are usually totally unrelated to an employee’s pay/salary.
The extrinsic rewards that employees derive are not directly related to the work itself but are associated with doing the job; they include the salary/pay, financial incentives, and fringe benefits, working conditions and interaction with other people in the work place. The importance of the different types of rewards varies according to each individual and the situation that they are in – their particular stage in life. For example, for an eighteen year old school leaver eager to rent his or her own flat , money might be the determining factor in deciding whether or not to do a job (extrinsic reward), whereas a fifty year old executive with less pressing money worries will probably be search for a more challenging job (intrinsic reward). These examples can be related to the work of Maslow (1954) who identified five categories of need which he claimed could be placed in a hierarchy (FIG 1). By this he meant that at any given moment an individual will be aiming to satisfy one particular category of need, but once this has been done that person will be interested in satisfying the next higher level.
FIGURE 1 – Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs (1954)
The previous example can be related to Figure 1 – the eighteen year old has lower level needs than the executive and, consequently the reward an organisation must offer to motivate will differ. In this case money is the main motivator for the eighteen year old whereas the executive is concerned more with working conditions and intrinsic rewards. According to Herzberg the distinction between extrinsic rewards is a significant one in that he found the fomer (which he called ‘maintenance’ or ‘hygiene’ factors) are important to prevent an employee being dissatisfied at work whilst the latter (called motivators) are the ones which actually satisfy. If the hygiene factors are inappropriate – for example, working conditions are poor or the company rules are seen as unfair – the individuals will be dissatisfied. By improving the hygiene factors an organisation can help to remove employee’s discontent. If however, they want to motivate their staff rather than just removing the causes of dissatisfaction then intrinsic rewards are necessary. Herzbergs “Two Factor” theory of motivation supports the latter part of the contention that the motivation for staff to work depends on high salary and good working conditions.
McClelland (1953) said that even when presented with a high salary good working
Conditions and all other contributing factors some people are still not motivated. McClellands theory of achievement motivation says that we all want to achieve but for some people it is a high priority while for others success is relatively unimportant. The strength for ones need for achievement is not an inherited personality feature but is determined by environmental influences and parental attitudes to goal achievement. These people who have high achievement goals will realistically set themselves goals they can achieve. At the same time, because they have a high need for personal achievements, the individual prefers situations where there is a high degree of autonomy, responsibility and control over tasks for these individuals high salaries and good working conditions are not the major providers of motivation.
When it comes to motivating people what matters is not just the actual reward but also their perception of it. For example a superior may ask a subordinate to take over a responsibility for a task because he or she believes it will give the subordinate the chance to develop their ability in a given area. However, the subordinate might well view this as additional and unwelcome work. To the superior it is an opportunity to give the subordinate more challenging tasks and enable them to gain more experience; to the subordinate it could simply be seen as extra duties.
Perception is also important when it comes to assessing the likelihood that a particular reward will be received. To be motivated an individual must believe that rewards on offer are attainable. If people want what is being offered to them, but do not believe that they can achieve the outcomes necessary to earn such rewards their motivation will obviously be low. Simply offering the individual the chance of greater responsibility is of limited value it that person does not feel they can perform well enough in the existing job to be awarded it. As Vroom (1964) highlighted in his expectancy theory, if people are to be motivated they must: (a) want the rewards offered (b) believe they can achieve the outcomes necessary to be awarded to them.
In conclusion high salary and good working conditions alone are not sufficient
Motivators for all staff to work well. Within an organisation the level of motivation that individuals have to do their work primarily depends on the fit between and individuals needs and a range of factors such as basic pay, fringe benefits, job design and the quality of communication, the more motivated that person is likely to be. Ultimately levels of motivation in an organisation can always be improved but that really depends on management wanting to probe how people in the organisation are working, thinking and identifying with what they are doing. Whilst there are inevitably real problems involved in trying to identify and meet the needs of each individual, there is no doubt that many firms still do not do enough to motivate their employees and still many believe in the contention that the motivation for staff to work well depends on high salary and good working conditions. This essay has outlined that there are a vast array of factors that contribute to the motivation for staff to work well – all staff are individual -managers need to take a reductionist view as opposed to holistic when examining what motivates staff to work well – in order to formulate motivation strategies that encompass the need of all individuals.
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