Employee motivation -- an individual's internal drive to achieve a goal -- is now one of the most studied areas of human resource management. Over the years, multiple theories have been put forward.
For instance, Maslow's popular hierarchy of needs theory suggests that employees are motivated to first look after their physical needs, then their safety and social needs and finally, they are motivated to seek satisfaction for their own ego and self-gratification.
The Skinner theory, on the other hand, suggests that if an employee's behaviour is positively reinforced, then this will lead to ongoing positive outcomes.
One of the older and common motivational strategies has been to reward employees by giving them money. In this case, employers would typically give bonuses for good work as well as increasing wages annually as much as the economy allowed. However, it is also well known that while employee motivation does initially increase, in most cases, the motivation is short lived. One reason for this might be that employees simply forget what their bonus was for and their motivation quietly slips away.
In my view, this type of financial reward system has simply taught employees to continually look for money as their only work reward. If an employee sees money, wealth and possessions as the driving values in life, then I doubt that any employer could ever make them happy.
However, most employers cannot afford to continue giving bonuses or increasing salaries if the economic situation in their industry sector cannot support it.
As well, if an organization has a well-structured compensation system, there are established salary scales set for each job based on the value of the job to the organization and the market rate for their industry and geography. To arbitrarily increase these salaries based on desires of employees rather than the value to the organization would create chaos. In this case, if salary doesn't meet an individual's needs, the employee should move on.
So, if money is not considered to be a lasting motivator, what alternative strategies are perceived to be effective for motivating today's employee? Some of the following strategies have proven effective and can be given consideration for your organization.
A sense of achievement -- Most employees are motivated by the desire to work in a goal-oriented organization where the work is challenging and employees can gain a sense of achievement by seeing concrete results.
Identity and purpose -- As social beings, employees typically want to work for an organization where they feel a sense of belonging and can identify with the values of the organization. This is also known as cultural fit.
Interesting work -- Employees want to be involved in interesting work that provides some variety rather than a job that quickly becomes too routine. Most employees seek work that involves their minds and requires thinking and personal involvement.
Team collaboration and reward -- Employees enjoy a combination of team-based rewards where a portion of the individual reward is contingent on the group performance. Research suggests this appears to contribute to high employee performance as well as job satisfaction.
Making a difference -- No matter what the nature of a job, most employees are motivated by the …