Employee motivation

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[edit] Introduction

The word “motivation” comes from the Latin verb “movere” (to move). It describes the totality of the motives behind a person’s actions, behaviour and striving for goals or desirable objectives. Motivation has a big influence on people in all aspects of life, and consequently also play a significant role in work. Alongside their individual abilities, employee motivation is a significant precondition for performance. As such, it can therefore be important to motivate employees to work towards the primary objective of corporate success by making the benefit for them and the company as great as possible.

[edit] Facts

To influence employee motivation positively, it is important for a company to offer guidance and dependability and know its employees’ motivations. One important motive is income. But there are also other motives for getting a job and committing to work. The literature distinguishes between two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

[edit] Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the wish to do something for its own sake. Intrinsic motivation comes “from within” and from a person’s own drives. Extrinsic motivation, by contrast, is the wish to do something in order to receive an advantage or reward or avoid disadvantage. Extrinsic motivation is thus activated and influenced “from outside”. Companies usually try to use both types of motivation. For example, performance-related pay can be used to influence extrinsic motivation, while identifying closely with the work task can influence intrinsic motivation.

[edit] Motivational incentives

Options for motivating employees can be divided into material and non-material incentives. Systems of material incentive are all the material rewards a company offers its employees for the performance of particular tasks. The main examples are performance-related pay, profit-sharing and fringe benefits. Income is the most important material incentive. On the one hand, it covers an employee’s living expenses and provides a livelihood. Salary payments meet an employee’s need for material security. On the other hand, income level is a measure of an employee’s social status, and a pay increase can be perceived as a confirmation of professional success. Material incentive do not necessary have to be monetary in nature; they may include physical assets. They may also include benefits such as counselling services, continuing education and training, or company childcare facilities.

Non-material incentives are those which are not monetary in nature or cannot be expressed in monetary terms. Motivation resulting from non-material incentives is diffuse in nature and is best achieved by creating a positive working atmosphere. Open communication within the company, a corporate culture that employees perceive as positive (work-life balance, opportunities for advancement, working time systems), a leadership style that offers employees guidance and dependability and employee involvement and responsibility all help achieve this. A corporate culture that embraces values that employees can understand, can provide guidance for action, simplifies communication between colleagues, promotes a willingness to work and fosters a sense of belong. Appreciation for employees, mutual trust, respect and recognition can also help significantly reduce absenteeism and staff turnover, because employees who are satisfied with their jobs are usually more willing to work and identify more readily with the company. A good work-life balance can also have a positive influence on employee motivation and willingness to work, because for many people, money and career advancement are not the highest priorities in their working lives. Instead, employees weigh up different alternatives suited to their lives and careers. For example, compatibility between work and family make be of great importance.

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