Motivation In the Workplace


Motivation can be properly thought of as a process whereby
people take certain available resources- their time- talent
and energy, and distribute them as they choose. (Maehr,
Braskamp, 1986).
The objective of this paper is to explore the relationships
between the individual, the external environment and the
business environment and examine how they interact with
each other to effect the amount of motivation an employee
exhibits on the job. As with most other models we must take
into account the Basic Needs Theory of Maslow (Vroom and
Deci, 1970) and after satisfying those needs we intend to
mold our model after the Expectancy Theories of Vroom. The
Expectancy Theory is a subjective-expected-utility model.
It states that the force exerted towards a given act will
be a product of the individual's belief that he or she can
perform at a certain level (Kleinbeck, Quast, Thierry
Hacker, 1990). The Equity Theory concerns the worker's
perception of how she is being treated. The basic idea is
that an employ first considers her input (effort) and then
her outcomes (rewards). The employee then compares her
personal ratio of effort to reward to the ratio of a
referent (Invancevich, Lorenzi, Skinner, and Crosby, 1994).
We would also like to point out that Motivation is a
"continuously changing variable" as well as a vector
quantity. It involves an infinite number of magnitudes and
can be exerted in an infinite number of directions. This
makes an accurate measurement of motivation very difficult
to accomplish (Morris, 1968).
a comprehensive model that measures motivation through
statistical analysis.
Understanding our model is assisted by the use of circles
to exemplify the various categories affecting motivation.
External environment
Business environment
The individual includes such characteristic as personality,
education, experience, work ethics, religious and ethnic
background, goals and past achievement, etc.
The external environment includes such characteristics as
family and financial needs, social contacts and political
beliefs, etc..
The business environment includes wages and benefit
packages, corporate culture, training programs, child-care
facilities, pension and retirement programs, flex-time
scheduling and family care leave time, etc(Kondo, 1991).
As these three different categories begin to interact with
each other you begin to obtain some overlapping. The more
overlapping of the three categories, the higher the degree
of motivation. When all three circles are separated you
have no motivation what-so-ever. When all three circles
overlay each other completely you would have the most
intense motivation possible. We recognize neither scenario
has much probability of occurring but recognize that some
interaction of all three circles is realistic.
Model Explanation
We intent to explore the policies and programs that
businesses can promote to assist in bringing these three
categories, closer together, thereby increasing the amount
of motivation experienced in the workplace. We will also
explore methods of measuring and predicting the amount of
motivation indicated by the overlapping
intersection(Cranny, Smith, Stone, 1992).
Our motivation model consists of three circle areas. Each
circle is perceived by an individual to represent
individual needs, external influences, and business
The area of individual needs and external influences always
overlap because a person is living in a society and his or
her desire is strongly related to external factors such as,
family, status, religion, and so on. The relationship is a
fundamental condition for the individual's motivation to
The overlapping area of individual needs and external
influences indicates the individual motivation to perform
in the society. Size of the area indicates a degree of the
relationship between the various factors (Figure 1, Model
1). The larger the overlapping area becomes, the larger the
degree of interaction and subsequent relationship.
Management's primary goal is to intervene in the already
existing relationship between individual needs and external
influences in order to boost an employees' motivation with
regards to its core operation.
Motivation is based on individual needs, not external
influences. When an individual himself wants to do
something for his needs, motivation occurs automatically.
Therefore, management should consider the relationship
between the individual's needs and business to increase the
individual's motivation at work. If the business develops a
relationship with only external influences (Figure 1, Model
2), the individual is not motivated by the business
approach. Accordingly, management should always strive to
have a relationship with the individual needs.
In order to address the primary concern of enlarging the
relationships between individual needs, external
influences, and business, management must constantly strive
to expand the degree of overlapping between the three
categories. This overlapping area represents the strongest
relationship to motivate the employees for the business
because the individual's motivation in the external
influences and the business coexist in the individual's
needs. The goal of needs is to improve employees'
motivation for the business. Therefore, management must
work diligently to expand the overlapping area.
If the business develops a relationship focusing only on
the individual's needs (Figure 1, Model 3), this approach
will again fail to motivate the employees. There is no
overlapping of the three circles and the motivation for the
business and the motivation related to external influences
for the individual are completely separate. Each motivation
would conflict if the individual must chose one or the
other . The choice would be made by the comparison between
the degree of importance for the individual. In order for
the individual to become better motivated with respect to
the business, the degree of the motivation should be larger
than that of the other category. On the other hand, if the
degree of the relationship between individual's needs and
external factors is larger than that of the relationship
between individual's needs and business, management will
never increase motivation for the business.
When business interacts with the employees, each
overlapping area with individual's needs and external
influence happens coincidentally and together. Some factors
would match the individual's needs but some factors would
match only external influences. This means that even though
business may try to address individual's needs, some
factors are typically not accepted by the individual as his
needs, thereby causing some factors to remain a part of
external influences only recognized by the individual. It
is such an ideal situation that the business approach
perfectly matches the individual's needs.
Our study has identified three management approaches that
tend to stimulate motivation. The first approach focuses on
the individuals' needs only. The second approach strives to
address only those external influences that affect the
individual. The third model suggest a combined approach
whereby the individuals' needs and the external influences
are given an equal amount of consideration.
The purpose of the first approach is to increase the
overlapping area with the individual's needs. A stronger
degree of connection to individual's needs results in
increased motivation for the business. Salary increases,
promotion, or an increase of vacation time would be used to
expand the overlapping area. This approach directly
motivates the employees because the factors presented by
the management are highly related to the individual needs
and desires.
The purpose of the second approach is to expand the
overlapping area made by the three circles when the
management can not provide effective factors that would
satisfy the individual's needs. An overlapping caused by
external influences does exist except, the area that
overlays the individual's needs does not relate to the
employees' motivation for the business. Expanding the
overlapping area requires enlarging the overlapping area
made by the three circles. It means that by approaching the
external influences, management could create a stronger
motivation for its business. Health care system including
family members, pension plans, or housing allowances are
examples designed to expand this degree of overlap.
The final approach is the most efficient way to get the
maximum interaction between the three circles. If
management tries to obtain the overlapping area by using
the first approach, management has to present several
factors in effort to match the individual needs. It would
be costly and difficult to provide them completely because
the company must identify the effective factors and provide
them in an appropriate amount. If management tries to gain
the overlapping area by using the second approach, the
company has to provide several externally influenced
factors resulting in even less motivational success than
the first approach. However, if management addresses both
the individual needs and the external influences equally,
it will have identified the strongest motivation area made
by the three circles. (Figure 1, Model 7). Management can
present some factors which satisfies the individual needs,
but will not be required to provide every possible factor
thereby saving valuable time and resources. Addressing
external resources can also provide for increased
efficiency by identifying only those factors that
contribute to the overlapping effect and motivational
The ideal model is that the business circle and the
individual needs circle are completely overlapping (Figure
1, Model 8). It means that all of what the individual wants
to do are business related. The condition never occurs
because it is impossible to satisfy all of the individual
needs perfectly.
To improve the employee' motivation for the business,
management will try to achieve the ideal condition. There
have been many attempts to achieve the motivation by using
these approaches. The attempts would be determined by
management only after considering the company's philosophy,
financial situation, social and political pressures, etc.
The models can show the current conditions companies and
use surveys to lead the companies to the appropriate
factors needed to improve their employees' motivation. With
the results of the surveys, the company should be able to
measure each overlapping area and describe its own
conditional model. The model would be either model 4, 5, or
6. The company can therefore identify simply understand its
present condition for motivating the employees by the
model. Afterward, the company would be in a better position
to decide which approach is the most favorable to improving
employee's motivation within the company. In the next
section, we explain how to measure overlapping areas.
Maslow (1954) has argued a hierarchy of human needs. The
hierarchical needs are fixed from the bottom to the top.
The bottom is physical needs; next is safety and security
needs; third is social needs; forth is self-esteem; and
fifth is self- actualization. Maslow's theory suggests that
an individual's motivational needs aspire to the next level
once the lower level needs have been achieved. However, in
the present society, these needs are desired by an
individual at the same time.
The individual wants money not just to live on but also
acquires some degree of personal satisfaction from earning
it. Money will be used for housing, foods, and health care,
for himself and his family. Receiving an increase in salary
will contribute to the individual's status and self-worth,
both of which are identified needs that require
satisfaction. Note that Maslow's hierarchy needs cannot
explain this situation because every need appears
The overlapping areas in our motivation model suggest that
the Maslow's needs are satisfied simultaneously. There are
three overlapping areas in our model, an overlapping of
individual needs and external influences, an overlapping of
individual needs and business, and an overlapping of
individual needs, external influences, and business. The
first area includes the physical needs, the safety and
security. The second area includes the social needs. The
last area includes self-actualization and self- esteem
because the two needs are satisfied when the three factors
are met. Furthermore, a size of each overlapping area can
explain management's attempt to satisfy the degree of
employees' needs.
Herzberg's views of motivation (1966) suggest that
motivators lead to individual satisfaction and hygiene
factors lead to individual dissatisfaction, and the level
of job performance is primarily influenced by the
combination of the two factors. Our model explains the
existence of both factors at the same time. The motivators
are contained in the overlapping area of individual needs
and business because the business intention and individual
needs meet in the same area (Figure 2, area 1 & 2). The
hygiene factors are contained in the overlapping area of
business and external influences but fail to meet in the
center overlapping area (Figure 2, area 3). This
overlapping area shows that the person is not motivated but
recognizes the business circumstances which do not effect
or negatively effect his performance. To subtract the
overlapping area of business and external influences from
the overlapping area of individual needs and external
influences is to predict the motivation of individual
performance for the business (Figure 3).
The expectancy theory presented by Vroom (1964) describes
the consequence of effort, performance, reward, and
satisfaction (Steers, 1979). This theory suggest that an
increase in effort leads to increasing performance and then
proper rewards with satisfaction help keep the
relationships. The theory considers the relationship
between a person and a company and does not take into
account external influences. Our model cannot explain the
consequences between performance and rewards but can
explain the relationship. The relationship between
performance and rewards relates to the interaction between
individual needs and business. Business provides rewards
which meet the individual needs as performance occurs. The
size of the overlapping area of individual needs and
business can illustrate the degree of matching individual
needs and the respective rewards.
Model Analysis and Implementation
Previously we have discussed the factors that influence
motivation of the employee in the workplace. We also
mentioned the "Intersection Model" which was used to
describe the interaction between different category factors
(McCoy, 1992). After the manager has identified the
possible factors that might influence the overall
motivation level of his employees, there are two questions
raised; how can the manager find out the most effective
factors that will have the greatest influence on the
motivation of his employees and how can the manager measure
the degree of influence of these factors. One of the
reasons for the manager to identify those relevant factors
is to focus business resources on those factors that offer
the best results. The manager must also identify the
motivational degree among different employees and the
motivational degree inside each individual. This will allow
the manager to identify the contribution and worth of each
individual factor which may affect the motivational level
between individuals.
In order to answer these questions, some statistical
techniques are needed(Levine, Ramsey, Berenson, 1995).
Chi-square analysis is used to identify the interdependency
between two different kind of factors. Since the analysis
will use the "frequency" or "count" data, the manager will
have to design a questionnaire that utilizes different
categories of factors in a survey format. For example,
personal factors can be described as the combination of
age, educational level, ethic background, religious
background, marital status, gender, years of working
experience and so on. External factors can be described as
the number of family members, economic source of the
family, how many dependents in the family, number and type
of insurance policies or security policies, total value of
assets owned by the individual, amount of debt which the
individual owes, number of social organizations in which
the individual participates, the individual's current
position in the organization and type of jobs which the
individual currently engages in. Business factors include
the current salary system, pension retirement plan, family
benefit plan, training system, supervision system along
with working conditions, and can be said to be relevant to
the factors that might influence the individual.
After we list all the factors that might influence the
motivation of each individual, the next step is to develop
a questionnaire which can describe the factors in a
frequency distribution format. The purpose is to take the
collected data obtained form the employee questionnaires
and perform a chi- square analysis to identify the
relationship between each category to determine the
effective category. Some examples are illustrated below:
Table 1
Catego Factor Option Option Option Option Option Option ries
s Indivi Age
20-30 31-40
41-50 51-60 61-70
Educat high
associ colleg gradua doctor
school ate
Ethic Americ Asian- Africa- Hispia Other
Religi Buddhi Christ Cathol Other
Senior 1-2
Marita Single Divorc Marrie
d Extern No. of 1
over 5 al
over 3 3
Insura -
50000- over
$50000 1mil
Asset -
Over 2 1mil- $50k-
$50000 mil
-$5000 5000-
Social 1
over 3
Positi Operat Senior Superv Manage Senior
Sales Manage
r Busine Salary Senior Perfor Combin
ity B m B
Pensio 1%
T 2%
T Over
Traini Freque Often
Someti Few
Superv Freque Often
Someti Few
Family 1%
T 2%
T Over
After the survey, a chi square analysis can be performed.
We focused our questions to identify the level of education
and the employee's current position. We assumed our survey
was completed by 500 employees who answered the questions
honestly. The following results are listed below.
associat college graduate doctor
e Operator 60
224 Senior 56
126 OP Supervis 4
89 or Manager 0
45 Senior 0
16 Mgr Sub
500 Total
We make a hypotheses test Ho as "two categories that are
independent to each other" and Ha as "at least one
combination which shows two categories are dependent of
each other". We therefore, can calculate the X2 Calc and
compare the value with the X2 table we obtained from the
table. If X2 Calc >= X2 table we reject the Ho in favor of
Ha which means that the two categories are not independent
of each other and some type of relationship exists between
the two. In this case, X2 Calc = 711.165, compare with the
X2 table = 16.4734 using significant level 0.1 and degree
of freedom 25. Since X2 Calc > X2 table we reject Ho in
favor of Ha. In other words, we conclude there is some
relationship between educational level and the individual's
current position in the company. The implication for
management is simple; if the current position of an
individual plays an important role in the individual's
motivation, a manger can increase the individual's
educational level by special training programs or subsidize
the individual's educational expenses.
After we realized the relationship between every
subcategory, another type of analysis should be done to
compare the motivation level between individuals and the
individual himself. This is done with the use of a
"Motivational Tree".
This method compares the difference between individuals by
using the "Motivation Tree" and allows the manager to know
the overall motivation level or score in the organization.
The idea of the "Motivation Tree" comes from the decision
tree theory(Gordon, Pressman, 1978), which defines the
factors that might influence the motivation of employees by
assessing the varied weight of each category and the
subcategories. We can calculate the "Motivation Score" for
each individual after applying the motivation tree to all
the employees. Those scores can be described in a
statistical language, such as mean, medium, mode, standard
deviation, and confidence interval. Employers or managers
can use the statistical data as a standard or benchmark to
estimate the general motivation level inside the
organization. Managers can compare those numbers on a time
bases in order to understand the effectiveness of plans
that are designed to increase the motivation in the
organization. Managers can also compare those benchmark
numbers with the individual numbers and distinguish the
difference between individual and organizational levels of
motivation. From the comparison, managers can determine if
an individual is below the overall level, at the overall
level or below the overall motivation level; in other
words, is the specific employee being motivated or not.
Managers can also identify the most effective factors which
contribute to the largest motivation scores. By enhancing
these factor and eliminating the factors which don't
contribute significantly to the motivation scores, managers
can improve the individual motivation level as well as the
general motivational level inside the organization. The
following is an example of the "Motivational Tree" analysis.
This analysis look at all the factors as a whole,
therefore, a questionnaire which determines the weight
score of first two "Background Categories" can be obtain
through a survey or determined by the manger himself. The
manager can give more weight to "Age" if he thinks age
plays a more important role in the potential of one
individual's motivation level. As to the score itself,
questions listed in Table 1 can be used again, but the
order of the answers should be rearranged to one that ranks
questions based on motivation potentials. For example, the
higher the age, the more motivation potential that
individual has. In the business category, we can use a
survey to test the employee's perception towards current
business working conditions. After we get the score for
both the motivation potential and the current motivation
level, a motivation score can be generated and compare to
each other. By using the chi-square analysis, we know
whether two categories of factors are dependent or
independent of each other. We can also recognize the degree
of motivation of one individual in an organization by
conducting the "Motivation Tree" analysis. The next step is
to find the degree of relationship which can be described
in a quantitative way between different category factors.
For example, the degree of influence between individual
factors and external factors at an organization. The degree
of relationship is shown by the overlapping area of the two
circles, as shown above. From our example, we have six
individual factors and six external factors so each circle
is divided into six parts, and each part represents each
Now we will use statistical methods to compute the
overlapping area(Kvanli, Guynes, Pavur, 1992). The
overlapping area between the two circles is the probability
that those two categories having something in common. We
took external factors and individual factors as an example.
We let external factors be E, individual factors be I. The
six external factors were therefore E1 to E6, and the six
individual factors were I1 to I6. The overlapping area
between E and I, demonstrates the probability that E and I
has something in common is P(IE) = P(I1E1)+ P(I1E2)+
P(I1E3) +...+ P(I6E6) = P(E1)P(I1|E1) +P(E2)P(I1|E2)+
P(E3)P(I1|E3) +...+ P(E6)P(I6|E6). We can obtain the P(E1),
P(E2)...P(E6) from the survey which we conducted before. In
order to find the area of P(I1|E1), P(I1|E2), P(I1|E3),...
and P(I6|E6), which statistically means "the probability of
Ix will happen under the condition that Ex has happened, we
use the questionnaire method. Some example questions are as
follows: Categories Sample questions Educational Under
current number of family members, do you level
think your educational level is enough to support and # in
your family's need? family Age
Under current amount of assets you have, do you and Amt of
think it is normal for people of your age to have Asset
this amount of assets? Seniority
Under your current position, do you think it is and
normal for people of your seniority to have this Current
position? position Marital
under your current amount of debts, do you think it status
is normal for people with the same marital status and Amt
of to have this amount of debts? Debt
The answers can be described on a scale from 0 to 100 with
0 representing "strong disagree" and 100 representing
"strong agree". After we finished the questionnaire, we can
know the area between E and I. The same method can be
applied between external factors/business factors and
individual factors/ business factors.
After realizing the factors which significantly contribute
to the motivation of employees and understanding the degree
of interaction between two different categories, managers
can use this knowledge to develop the most effective action
to stimulate the motivation level in the company.
More and more companies have become aware of and concerned
about their employees level of needs. Major corporations
like IBM have initiated programs such as child care
consultation and referral services along with continuous
employee opinion surveys in an effort to influence the
employee's external environment which may subsequently
affect the level of motivation(Winfield, 1988).
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