Employee Motivation

This paper critically evaluates whether incentives really help to motivate employees.For this purpose it provides a clear definition of motivation, points out why existingtheories are partly outmoded and introduces a new model in order to gain a holisticview of the motivation concept. As the paper progresses it will be dealt withappropriate theories and practical examples in order to promote understanding of thekey aspects of incentives and highlight under which circumstances threats mightmotivate.
Successful organisations share a common attribute: They came quickly to realisethat employees play a significant role in terms of business performance (Tidd andBessant, 2009). A key contribution to current understanding comes from Boxall andPurcell (2003), who argue that an employee’s performance is a function of his or herability, motivation and opportunity. Given this notion, the adverse effects of zeromotivation on an organisation’s bottom line are already conceivable. But what ismotivation and what role do incentives or threats play in the motivation process?
Motivation can best be described as the force “that gives impetus to our behaviour byarousing, sustaining, and directing it toward the attainment of goals” (Wortman, et al,1999, p. 364).
For decades, numerous theorists have attempted to find a way of describing theconcept of motivation. Much has been told about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs(Maslow, 1970), MC Gregor’s XY theory (McGregor, 1960) or Herzberg’s two factortheory (Herzberg, 2003) and there is no doubt that these content theories do providevaluable insights into motivation. Yet they also have limitations and do notnecessarily apply nowadays (Wilson, 2010). Likewise, process theories like Vroom’sExpectancy-Valence-theory (Vroom, 1964) might be considered more meaningful asthey are based on the assumption that motivation depends on different variables, butthey still lack clarity as they overlook important interrelationships.
It was therefore necessary...