Workplace Motivation Term Paper

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Workplace Motivation

The motivation of employees in the workplace was the focus of many researchers following the publication of the Hawthorne study result. Several theories appeared as a result of the increased interest in employee motivation. The most important theories, the classics of motivation research that have led to our understanding of motivation are Maslow's need-hierarchy theory, Herzberg's two- factor theory, Vroom's expectancy theory, Adams' equity theory, and Skinner's reinforcement theory.

Ambrose and Kulik (1999) conducted a review of more than 200 studies on work motivation published in the organizational behavior and management literature between January 1990 and December 1997. They highlighted several categories based on the theoretical approach used: Motive and need theory (which included Herzberg, achievement), Expectancy theory, Equity and justice theory, Goal setting theory, Cognitive evaluation theory, Work design theory (which primarily focused on the job characteristics approach), Reinforcement theory.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Workplace Motivation Assignment

It should be stated that research on motivation usually starts with the identification of motivators in order to be able to proceed with more indirect relationships between motivation and other constructs. Therefore, many studies have been conducted to determine what an employee wants most out of a job. One prevalent answer, given more frequently than additional money, is the desire to 'feel appreciated.' Humans have basic needs, and one of the greatest is the need to feel important and appreciated. Research was conducted on the utilization and effectiveness of non-financial incentives in small business in order to prove that there are other motivators than money that have a greater impact on work productivity. For instance, Appelbaum & Kamal (2000) showed that by increasing job satisfaction via job enrichment, employee recognition, internal pay equity and the use of skilled managers, smaller firms can increase productivity and attractiveness to existing and potential employees. On the other hand, the managers place a great value on people especially when they are faced with the need for continuous improvement. Research has showed that high-performing organizations place a premium on highly motivated staff as a key to their success. Moreover, empirical data indicate that developing a clear strategy and an organizational culture that values staff, provides a range of performance benefits such as: delivering continuous improvement; enhancing change management capacity; providing better customer service; and retaining high-quality staff. (Rt Hon. Andrew Smith MP in an overview "Motivating people to improve performance").

Incentives are a great part in any employee motivation program. An employee motivation program which offers incentives is said to be more effective. Numerous researchers have studied the impact of incentives. "Incentives, Motivation and Workplace Performance: Research & Best Practices," conducted by researchers for the International Society of Performance Improvement was designed to analyze the complete body of scientific research on incentive programs, determine what if any research-supported conclusions exist as to their effectiveness and the circumstances under which they can succeed. The meta-analysis of research and subsequent surveys revealed the following key findings:

Incentive programs improve performance.

Incentive programs engage participants.

Incentive programs attract quality employees.

Longer-term programs outperform short-term programs.

Executives and employees value incentive programs.

Quota-based incentive measures work best.

The same study underlined the conditions indicating need for an Incentive System:

Current performance is inadequate.

Cause of inadequate performance is motivational.

Desired performance can be quantified: How much, How often, How many.

It is extremely important to recognize these conditions in any organizations and also in the occupations directly responsible for productivity results, such as sales. Considering media advertising sales, the key employees are media advertising sales agents. They are often referred to as account executives or advertising sales representatives and their main tasks are to sell or solicit advertising, including graphic art, advertising space in publications, custom-made signs, or television and radio advertising time (according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook). They may work not only for media firms (television and radio broadcasters), but also for print and Internet publishers, and cable program distributors. Media representative firms are targeted at selling advertising space or time for media owners, including print and Internet publishers, radio and television stations, and cable systems. These employees are the key to the firm's productivity since most revenue for magazines, newspapers, directories, and broadcasters is generated from advertising. Generally speaking, considering a local television or radio station or publication they would have a national sales manager who is responsible of promoting its best interests and coordinating the efforts of all the media representative firms on its behalf.

Therefore the sales agents may find themselves in the specific situation of witnessing the growth of the firm and they naturally feel responsible to this growth, since they contributed to it. It is important to recognize their merits and provide relevant ways of compensation. From this point-of-view, equity theory and behavior may provide a basis for motivation program designs. Research examined the factors inducing inequity (perceived inequity, pay inequity, feedback distributions) and the motivational indicators (for instance self-reported motivation, performance, illegal behavior, intention to persist with an innovation). In sales, according to this theory perceived inequity may refer to monetary rewards, task assignments, supervisory behavior, promotions, and recognition (Ambrose & Kulik, 1999).

Another motivational strategy which is linked to performance in this context is the goal difficulty. The relationship between the two assumes that the individual is committed to the goal and possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve it. According to Latham & Locke (1991) goal commitment is especially critical when goals are specific and difficult. For media sales advertising participation and self-set goals may be effective strategies for enhancing goal commitment. Self-efficacy and feedback have been found to influence both the difficulty of the goal accepted, and commitment to the goal (Locke, 1996). Empirical evidence shows that the highest performance was achieved when the specific, difficult goal was combined with both specific process and specific outcome feedback.

In sales business environment, incentive programs such as travel, gift cards and merchandise to reward valuable employees are the most used. For instance, according to Hallmark Data (2006) (retrieved from Incentive media kit) the most purchased incentives are: Business/Corporate Gifts (62%), Recognition / Service Awards (62%), Sales Incentives (53%), Non-Sales Employee Incentives (39%), Advertising Specialties (35%), Consumer Promotions (31%), Cash (27%), Dealer Incentives (22%).

In a specific media advertising firm, management should be concerned how do the organizational-wide philosophy and motivational strategies correspond. In order to assess and establish the most adequate motivational strategies organizations should assess first current organizational practices, programs and management techniques that impact employee motivation (selection, performance assessment, promotion, compensation, incentives). In media advertising sales managers are aware that revenues depend upon the performance of sales agents and supervisors. Therefore it is important they understand the dynamics that supports individual, team, and organizational performance. In order to create a stable and firm link between performance and motivation it is essential, according to Lindstrom to believe in employees and have clear performance expectations, create systems of accountability (which require a level of ownership that includes making, keeping, and proactively answering for personal commitments, according to Linstrom), provide supportive feedback.

By taking into consideration what has been stated above, two important motivational strategies in media advertising sales are goal setting and incentive programs. Goal setting may be perceived as a clear-cut strategy from management's part. It would make easier to relate organizational performance plans with the individual performance objectives of the sales agents and their supervisors. It is a very useful strategy since it takes into account both the current state of performance and the desired performance.

For employees such a strategy shifts the perspective from the extrinsic motivation encompassed by pay to the intrinsic motivation of the work. Sales are correlated with goals which stand for performance standards. Goals impose a more structured development for performance and motivate the people through the effort of attaining them (commitment). It has been stated that performance increases when the goals are specific and difficult, and are accompanied by feedback. Moreover research conducted by Barrick, Mount, and Strauss (1993) found that sales representatives' autonomous goal-setting and goal commitment were associated with greater sales volume and higher supervisory ratings of job performance. Therefore, the motivation is increased by the feeling of autonomy involved in these goals.

In what concerns the incentive system research clearly demonstrates that incentives can positively impact performance and that the nature of the work should drive structuring an incentive system. The theoretical model on which the incentive systems is based is expectancy theory (according to Lindstrom). In this frame of thought, simply put, employee must believe that effort will lead to performance, performance will lead to rewards, and that rewards are desirable. All these factors should be considered when implementing an incentive system. For instance it is important to assess the type of incentives the people would prefer and desire. These should also be linked to performance. Moreover,

Research clearly demonstrates that incentives can positively impact performance and that the nature of the work should drive structuring an incentive system. There were studies that examined the effects of combining goals, feedback, and monetary bonuses on… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Workplace Motivation" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Workplace Motivation.  (2007, November 4).  Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Workplace Motivation."  4 November 2007.  Web.  21 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Workplace Motivation."  November 4, 2007.  Accessed September 21, 2021.