The essential nature of employee motivation

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It is often said that you can take the horse to the riverside but you cannot force it to drink from the river. Motivating employees is very important if employers are to attain the utmost performance and output from their employees. Motivation according to Mitchell is mainly concerned with why people behave in certain way and has been explained as the way and determination of an act or deed. It generally has to do with why people prefer a specific behaviour compared to others. According to theorists motivation is in two main categories, that is, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is inherent and takes place when individuals are obligated to do something out of free will, need, or significance. In contrast extrinsic motivation happens when outside factors induces someone to do something (Mullins, 2007). A pioneer motivation theorist Abraham Maslow stated that every individual has various needs that have to be satisfied. Such needs begins with the most basic of all the needs which include foods, shelter etc which when satisfied pave the way for the next level of needs to occupy the individual's attention.

There is no single or universal method for motivating an individual. Methods have changed over time and depend on situations that employee's experience. Managers therefore have a crucial task and responsibility of motivating employees in an organisation as tasks are accomplished through employees (Strickler, 2006). Manager's work has a lot varieties and the interaction with personnel is considered to be of great importance.

What defined work in the past is not the same today as work has become more dynamic, the workforce is becoming more diverse and includes women, physically disabled etc and managing the diversity has become a global concern. Managers need to recognize that people bring their individual values, lifestyles preferences and differences with them when they come to work (Robbins, 2005). Managers have therefore have the responsibility of locating factors that motivate employee and implement them. To successfully motivate the workforce, managers and organisations have to to know what motivates their employees in the perspective of the tasks they carry out. Of every single function a manager carries out, employee motivation is among the most difficult of all managerial roles and for organisations and companies on the whole.

Individuals have different motivational needs at work which is accompanied by different mindsets that have particular importance for the individual and this explains certain work behaviour. Each individual is different and motivated differently and it also depends on what stage in life a person is at.

Motivating employees is not the same today as it was in the past and employee motivation present one of the last frontiers for organisational influence. It is becoming more difficult for organisations to find, manage and motivate employee (O'Toole and Bennis, 2009). Today it is important to maximize the engagement and motivation of employees to the organisation through assessment, regular feedback, ongoing support and experience-based initiatives.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (2007) corporate culture is a system of shared values and beliefs about what is important, what behaviors' are appropriate and about feelings and relationships internally and externally. It has a significant role in providing a framework that can facilitate employee motivation. Besides motivation corporate culture facilitates such crucial aspects of organisational life as unity among employees and overall well-being. In general, corporate culture can be seen as the total sum of all needed organisational activities that aim at fulfilling its purpose.

Organisations all have different key qualities which form the personality of the organisations which employees want to belong and in order to be successful the organisations need to maintain the values which brought the employees to the organisation.

Research demonstrates that employees working for small companies are experiencing more satisfaction at work than employees working for longer ones (Lencioni, 2002).

The perception in the workforce is that men and women have different attitudes towards work and previous findings both confirm and contradict this. Literature conducted in the past have often examined only one work related variable and not a number of variables. Although a lot of studies have been done on gender differences, it is an area which fascinates researchers as more women are entering the employment market (Cole et al 2007).

Most of the theories and research that have being done on motivation have been conducted in Europe and the United State. These theories according to Ramllal (2004) are more suitable for European and companies in the United States. Motivation is a big concept and there hasn't been any clear answer as to what motivate people or why they are motivated differently. From this it is will be interesting to know how employees in Ghana are motivated and whether these theories are valid. With consideration on big companies when investigating employee motivation, this study will research a dimension often ignored, small medium companies.

For the purpose of this research the choice was to advance the understanding of employee motivation in the production industry in Ghana .The reason for undertaking the research in the production industry and concentrating on small medium companies is that although numerous research have been done on employee motivation, the concentration in Ghana has always been in the health and educational sectors. Those that have being done in other sectors have mainly involved larger corporations and organisations with little or no reflection on small companies. It is on this premises that this research is been undertaken to consider employee motivation in small medium companies.

Scope of study

The scope of this research is Matt Company a pseudonym of a real small medium company based in the western region of Ghana which is into the production of beverage products. This name was adopted at the request of the case study who does not want it name to be made public. A detailed background of the company is presented in chapter four

Aim and research questions

The underlying aim of this research is to advance an understanding of employee motivation in small medium companies in Ghana, and in order to achieve this aim the following questions will be addressed:

How are employees in small medium companies motivated?

What is the role of the manager in employee motivation?

Does corporate culture influence employee motivation?

Does gender influence employee motivation?

Outline of the research

This research is arranged in five main chapters. Chapter one introduces background of the dissertation area, the aim of this research and the questions set out to achieve this aim, scope of the research and an outline of the whole dissertation.

Chapter two present a background of this research by reviewing existing literature on employee motivation and the various motivation theories. It also discusses the types of motivation and the role of the manager in the motivation process and finally examines corporate culture and gender in relation to employee motivation.

Chapter three introduces the methods and techniques employed in the research to gather the primary data. It also includes the explanation and justification for the approach and strategy adopted as well as the data collection methods, sample of population. Finally it explains how interviews were conducted the administration of questionnaires and the limitations of the research.

Chapter four presents' a background of the case study as well as data and analysis of primary data gathered with semi-structured interviews and questionnaires and a summary of results from both methods.

Chapter five wrap up the dissertation with the conclusions of the data collected from the case study and review of the, research questions and suggest recommendation for management of the case study and for future studies.

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