Motivation in the Workplace

Essay, 2002
12 Pages, Grade: 1,3 (A)


“Motivation is the process of stimulation an individual to take action that will accomplish a desired goal.” (Barron’s; 236) The word motivation comes from the Latin word ‘movere’, which means to move or to urge. There are numerous definitions of motivation, which is logical, because there are many different personalities that are motivated through different factors, as well as there exist various motivation theories and programs. Motivation is getting more important every day since the competition in the workplace is increasing on a daily basis as well as the unemployment rate. Management has to find an effective way of motivate not only themselves, but more to motivate their employees, therefore management has to take into account theories and has to consider the differences in personality of its workforce, to imply a successful motivation program.

The first theorist, which has to be taken into account, was Frederick W Taylor (1856 – 1915) who believed that only through maximal worker productivity economic prosperity could be achieved which in turn would be the product of making employees more efficient. Taylor is also known as the “Father of scientific management”; he called this approach the Scientific Management and his beliefs were that only a management scientist would be able to achieve this efficiency of the worker. Furthermore Taylor did not have trust in employees, in his opinion, workers start lacking efficiency as soon as there is not such a management scientist. His aim was to achieve maximum efficiency and to reach this goal he created a process called job fractionation. By observing different workers at different jobs he measured the amount of time a worker needed to finish a task and then looked at each job and its constituent tasks (=basic work units), he used these measurements to create time and motion studies. (15) After observing his studies he defined the most effective way of carrying out the tasks and then he put the single tasks together and prescribed the “one right way” (15) to handle a job. In addition he designed the “piece rate” (15) system, through which employees received their salary according to the amount of production and because of this system he increased worker efficiency considerably because it was incentive. To sum up, the motivator Taylor used was money and he also concentrated on the work itself but did not care about the feelings of the employee. Taylor is only one of the theorists of the Classical School of Management, Adam Smith (Division of Labor) and Henry L Gantt (Gantt-Chart) are two more of this type of school and all of them focused upon the work.

By way of contrast is the Behavioral School of Management, which aforesaid that if one concentrates on the worker and tries to understand him, effective management will come by itself. George Elton Mayo participated in the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company located in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois in the years 1927 until 1932, called the “Hawthorne Experiments” (22) where the researchers at first put two groups of female workers in different rooms in which they used different intensities of lightning. The first group “control group” had a same intensity of light and the light in the other room was changed in a random period of time. The result was that there was no difference in the changing of the light and in the productivity of work, but in both groups the productivity increased. According to Barrons, there was no relationship between increasing productivity and level of lightning, because of that the scientists started interviewing the employees and found out that only because they paid attention to the workers as individuals and their feelings and listened to them, the productivity increased. Furthermore the test rooms the two groups were in were different to the usual working conditions, moreover the employees felt like they were somebody important because scientists showed interest in them. In addition, the relationship between the managers/supervisors and the workers was more relaxed in the test-time and the feeling of belonging in a group was also a reason for the improvement of productivity (23-24). Mayo’s approach is focused on the individual and not on the job itself and it shows an increasing productivity but the Classical School of Management has shown this as well.

Abraham H Maslow focused on the goals of every individual in 1939-1943, which shows how similar all individuals are at the end. As seen in figure XXX, he defined five basic needs every individual possesses. It starts with the lowest level of the pyramid – Physiological/ Basic- that demonstrates the concern for survival including hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex. As soon as a level has been achieved it no longer serves to motivate, which, in turn means, once an individual achieved the first level and is satisfied, the person moves up to the next level, which is the level of –Safety- no matter if it is emotional or physical safety. The individual desires protection against danger in any way. When these needs are satisfied the level replaces them –Social/ Belonging- this feeling lays in every individual to feel affection and affiliation to a group if family or friends or the workplace. Elton Mayo proofed this in the Hawthorne Experiments because of the paying attention to the workforce so they had a feeling of a group belonging and the productivity increased automatically. This level also implies that love in relationships is important to individuals and receiving of friendship as well. The next level -Esteem/ Ego-status- includes esteem needs like desire for self-esteem and self-respect. This level is similar to the previous one; the difference is that the individual and its ego play a more intense role than in the level before. The forth level implies that a person has a desire to feel appreciated and wanted in some ways, but also the recognition and the reputation of the individual is important. Maslow’s highest point is the “self-actualisation” in which the goal of an individual is to feel absolutely satisfied with itself and its work- and life situation through the work and creativity by itself. Maslow’s concept only concentrates on facts and sources that motivate an individual to reach a point of satisfaction in a general sense, but what about the factors that decrease a motivation in an individual in the workplace?

Frederick I Herzberg took Maslow’s approach one step further and created a theory of motivation, the “Two-Factor-Theory” or the “Motivation-Hygiene-Theory”. He looked at Maslow’s pyramid in terms of dissatisfiers and motivators and stipulated that the two upper levels only provide motivation in the work-life and he named these “motivators”, whereas the lower rungs do not lead to higher levels of motivation but there is no satisfaction without them and therefore he called these “dissatisfiers” or “Hygiene Factors” for example company policies and administration, supervision, working conditions, interpersonal relations, salary, status, job security and personal life, whereupon the satisfiers or motivators are the work itself, responsibility, achievement, recognition for achievement, advancement and growth to higher level tasks, interest in tasks, responsibility for tasks etc. The level of the “Belongings” belongs to both classifications; in the workplace this element is significant “in the area of supervisor-subordinate relationships” (240). The motivators, according to Herzberg, refer directly to the topic work, contrariwise to the dissatisfiers, which concentrate on life itself. Moreover, Herzberg states that the suitability of motivators and dissatisfiers depends on the job performance (241).

It can be said that employees work efficiently either because of a performance-related salary (extrinsic motivation) or because they are interested in the tasks they have to accomplish in every work-day-life. Companies cannot only concentrate in one of these forms because there are two totally opposites in personality. The question has to be asked if employees are motivated by higher salaries only if they perform better and accomplish tasks faster because of it or if workers are motivated by internal factors (intrinsic motivation), such as identification with their job, which can dead to job satisfaction. Management has to find the most efficient and effective mixture of both, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is always connected with the financial sector, no matter if a company pays a higher salary or pays for a company car or even a vacation for the whole family, which, in turn shows that an extrinsic person only works for the personal life because none of the mentioned examples relate in the end to the job or work environment itself. Therefore extrinsic motivation results are always concerned with the life of an individual besides work.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


Motivation in the Workplace
Frankfurt School of Finance & Management
1,3 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
386 KB
very thick text, sinle-spaced.
Motivation, Workplace
Quote paper
Friederike Hertel (Author), 2002, Motivation in the Workplace, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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