Why do we want to achieve the things we want to achieve?
What drives us?
What motivates us?
These factors push and drive us, both consciously and unconsciously, to behave in a certain way. To exude substantial effort towards obtaining certain goals and accomplishments in our life.
Much research has been carried out in the area of motivation and its importance in creating successful organisations.
Motivated employees will deliver a higher performance which is of utmost importance if a company wants to achieve its objectives.
Companies will spend considerable time establishing ways to encourage employees to perform to the best of their ability.
Staff must be provided with other factors such as the correct training, education, technology etc to be able to perform at optimum levels.
What else contributes to motivation?
How else can you build a happy and highly motivated workforce?
To do this, you need to really break down and understand the process of motivation.
The Need to Be Motivated
Motivation theory can be broken up into content and process models of motivation.
Content focuses on the needs and wants that the individual is trying to achieve. The process model attempts to show how external context pushes or drives individuals to behave in certain ways and how managers can change the situation to better link need satisfaction to performance.
One of the best-known theories of motivation is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is a content model of motivation.
Maslow believed that motivation was based on our desire to satisfy a need we had at that particular time.
Once that need was satisfied we would then move on to the next need. Having achieved the first need, we would now be no longer motivated to achieve it. Our motivational desires would now shift towards our new need.
Maslow’s theory highlighted the basic survival needs which are our first priority, and the existence of a series of needs that must be met before higher needs of self-esteem and self-actualization can be met.
Modern research highlights some inadequacies with Maslow’s theory. However, it still remains an important and simple motivation tool for managers to understand and apply.
1) Physiological Needs
The needs for oxygen, food, water, shelter, warmth, sleep and survival. These are basic and intrinsic necessities required to survive. The money we earn through employment will allow us to satisfy these needs.
In the work environment, employers could satisfy the physiological needs of their staff by providing vending machines, drinking fountains, healthy air to breathe, adequate time to rest and recuperate between shifts, and regularly scheduled breaks.
When employees are embarking on their career they will be looking to satisfy these lower level needs. Their concerns will encompass adequate wages and security needs such as benefits and a safe work environment. During an economic downturn, employees needs revert back to these lower level needs if they are threatened.
2) Safety Needs
This is the need for protection and security. Protection from elements, security, order, law, stability.
We desire security at home, tenure at work etc and we want to feel safe that we will not lose it.
To meet this needs in the workplace, employers can provide their staff with a safe and secure working environment, as well as proper heating and ventilation.
By making the work environment a safe place to work, this will reduce absenteeism and thereby increase overall productivity.
Fringe benefits, retirement benefits, and medical benefits, for example, can help employees feel secure about their jobs and the future.
3) Social Needs
Social needs include the need to belong; to love and be loved and to interact with others.
These needs refer to our desire for affection, intimacy, and to feel wanted. How we want to be accepted by others and our desire for friendship and not feel alone. A sense of belonging from our work group, family, friends, and romantic relationships.
In the workplace, competitions, mentoring, brainstorming sessions, and after-work events/activities can make employees feel as if they are part of a team, or create a sense of belonging.
The level of social needs will vary for each employee. It will greatly depend on whether they are an introvert or extrovert. But most employees will have this need met by feeling accepted in their workplace.
Where there is communication between management and employees and where cooperation is encouraged.
4) Esteem Needs
These needs include self-esteem; self-worth; self-regard; and the esteem, value, and regard of others.
Esteem needs covers our desire for self-confidence, recognition, authority and influence over others. We need to feel good about ourselves, our achievements and mastery. It also includes independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, and respect from others.
Recognition and reward for employee efforts is a great way to meet this self-esteem needs. When employees are rewarded for their efforts they work harder and take additional pride in what they are working on.
Managers can use praise and awards, as well as delegating responsibilities to satisfy these needs. They should also provide employees with adequate training as well as encouraging participation.
By doing so, employees will be able to identify the correlation between responsibility and reward and as a result, it may encourage enhanced performance.
5) Self-Actualization Needs
Self-actualization refers to the need for self-fulfillment, self-realization, peak experiences, personal development and fulfilment of the creative faculties.
It involves allowing ourselves to fully express who we are and realise our full creative potential. It essentially means becoming everything that we are capable of becoming. According to Maslow, these needs vary according to the state or society in which we live and they represent the climax of personal growth.
“It refers to the person’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially.
The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions”
(Maslow, 1943, p. 382–383).
In the workplace, the needs of the self-actualised person can be met by providing training, new challenges and encouraging creativity. Individuals at this level love a challenging job, an opportunity to complete further education as well as increased freedom from supervision.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs highlights the significance of how our needs are constantly changing.
Applying this to how we motivate our employees, it is clear that employees needs will change over time. Therefore, so too should our motivation strategy. These should be continually adapting in order to keep our workforce motivated.
What motivated employees to perform a year ago, may no longer provide the same results today. A reward for performance 2 years ago is unlikely to instil the same level of motivation for a further 2 years into the future.
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