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This report has been produced in order to analyze a phenomenon of motivation at work and present views about money being the main motivator behind it. The paper has been divided into sections which illustrate in turn a definition of motivation, the main theories concerned with motivation at work, the arguments supporting and opposing the issue of money as the main motivator at work and conclusion of the report. In order to facilitate the analysis content and process theories have been presented.
The purpose of this report is to identify the main points for the discussion about the pursuit of money being the primary focus as an incentive for satisfaction and performance at work.
The key findings of the report include the application of content and process theories to the question of money being the main incentive at work. It has been concluded that the pursuit of money is the primary focus at work which satisfaction and good performance cannot replace.
In the age of constant race towards satisfaction, career ladder has become one of the common expressions in our contemporary vocabulary. Work has always been an important part of our lives and as with everything, people strive to be better at it. One of our greatest needs is to excel at our job and increase our capabilities.
In order to achieve all of the above, one needs a goal that can be targeted. The question arises what our endeavours at work are motivated by. The main purpose of getting a job is to earn money. One might argue that pursuit of money is the major factor in our work and therefore creates a goal for people that pure satisfaction and good performance on their own cannot replace.
The aim of this paper is to discuss motivation at work and its underlying reasons behind it. The report comprises four main parts. It will begin with a brief definition of motivation. After that, it will focus on describing the work motivation theories. The next paragraph will critically evaluate the arguments supporting and opposing the report. Conclusion will be drawn at the end of the report.
3.0 What is motivation?
Motivation can be simply defined as a drive to do something. Arnold (2005) describes three factors that make us behave in certain way. These are:
- direction - what a person is trying to do
- effort - how hard a person is trying
- persistence - how long a person continues trying.
In order to be motivated, one must have a sense of direction, a goal that may be achieved. Purpose is one of the factors that needs to be present so that one can stay motivated. Motivation can also be evaluated in terms of effort put into doing something. The more we strive to do something, the more motivated we stay. Persistence is the last component of motivation concept. The level of how motivated we are can be measured by the time we spend on trying to achieve something. The more motivated one is, the more persistent one will be.
3.1 Work motivation
According to Arnold (2005), motivation is not the only factor which assesses work performance. Work conditions, our abilities, communication with other staff members can all affect work performance.
However, when discussing work motivation, we can differentiate between two major frameworks: content theories and process theories. The former focus on the intrinsic parts of work and what motivates human behaviour at work (Arnold, 2005). The latter are based on how those parts influence motivation and behaviours connected with it.
3.1.1 Content theories
Content theories concentrate on the factors that motivate people at work. They are based on the premise that there is always needs underlying human behaviour (Arnold, 2005). We need to have the needs first in order to satisfy them.
Three main content theories are:
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
Maslow presented five kinds of human needs and put them in an order of importance. If the first need is not satisfied, it is not possible to fulfill the next one. The needs suggested by Maslow comprise:
physiological needs: food, drink, sex etc. being the basic needs for a human being;
safety needs: security and stability;
social needs: need for relationships, liaising with people, being part of a society, a sense of belonging;
esteem needs: need for self-esteem and respect;
self-actualization needs: self-realization and developing one's skills and abilities.
- Herzberg's two factor theory
Herzberg proposes there are two factors influencing work motivation: hygiene factors and motivation. Hygiene factors consist of salary, working conditions, job security etc. These are claimed to prevent dissatisfaction but not necessarily to motivate at work. Motivators include promotion, a sense of achievement and responsibility etc. These are claimed to instill satisfaction. However, according to Herzberg, the lack of motivators does not produce dissatisfaction but a state of no satisfaction.
- McClelland's learned needs theory
McClelland suggested there are three main needs for people. These are: the need for achievement, the need for affiliation and the need for power. He proposes these needs can be learned and gained from experience and therefore motivate us to reach some goals.
All three theories conclude about the content parts of our work and what factors induce our motivation and keep it going.
3.1.2 Process theories
Process theories on the other hand focus on the reasons why motivation occurs and tries to find underlying factors for it. These in turn influence our behaviour and make motivation happen.
Three main process theories are:
- Adam's equity theory
This theory is based on the perception of being treated fairly in the workplace. It assumes that motivation can be created when people compare their behaviour with others. Therefore, considering unfair treatment occurs in the workplace e.g. underpayment issues in comparison to others , we tend to change our behaviour and a lack of motivation will be perceived.
- Vroom's expectancy theory
Expectancy theory concentrates on calculating three factors when considering the course of action. These are (Arnold, 2005):
Expectancy - the ability to perform a task; individual's perceived likelihood of performing a task where a scale measures of 0 - no chance to 1- certainty apply (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2001)
Instrumentality - the possibility of a reaching a goal, a desired outcome; individual's perceived likelihood of a possibility of obtaining valued rewards from performing a task; a scale measures of 0 - no chance to 1- certainty apply (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2001)
Valence - weighing up the importance and value of a proposed task; a perceived value for a particular outcome; a scale measures of positive, negative and neutral apply (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2001).
These three values put together create a level of motivation we will have when performing a task.
- Locke's goal theory
Locke's goal theory focuses simply on goal setting at work. It is assumed that once the goals are clear, difficult but achievable and realistic, the greater motivation occurs. It underlines the fact that motivation can only be created if we have a goal, a target that we aim at as we do in every sphere of our lives. Motivation cannot exist if an end result cannot be presented.
3.2 Work motivation in practice
Fast pace of life and constant chase after more and better physical goods made money our main pursuit in every-day endeavours. Money, since its creation, has been our main means of survival. Without money, we can count on a low standard of life and in the worst case scenario face poverty. Therefore work is intrinsically connected with receiving income.
One might argue that motivation at work is non-existent because the pursuit of money is the main reason for getting a job. Maslow's theory would be the one supporting this argument. There is no space for satisfaction and good performance at work if the fundamental need of receiving a desirable salary is not met. Having an income is intrinsically related with satisfying the first and the second types of needs in Maslow's hierarchy. These are physiological needs for food and drink and also safety needs for security, stability and shelter. It goes without saying that satisfaction at work does not come into this range. It can be stated that work satisfaction would be included in the last tier of Maslow's needs - self-actualisation.
Adam's equity theory might justify the statement about money being the main motivator at work. The first comparison at work that people make with others is the one about the salary differences. It can be argued that underpayment is one of the main reasons for people's lack of motivation at work and therefore, a pursuit of money could be a strong argument for its actual occurrence.
Locke's goal setting theory can be concerned with money being the main factor at work motivation. Striving to achieve a certain goal might present a challenge for not only accomplishing the task itself but also obtaining the reward that may very often be a monetary one. In the presented situation, money is the main goal and may well be the main motivation source.
Juxtaposed with the above arguments, motivation does not have to solely rely on the pursuit of money as the major factor.
Herzberg's theory presents money as a hygiene factor and therefore excludes it as a motivator at work. He assumes a lack of hygiene factor leads to dissatisfaction but their presence do not necessarily create motivation. Herzberg claims the main motivators are promotion, sense of achievement and responsibility.
McClelland also excludes money as the source of motivation at work. He presents the need for achievement, affiliation and power as the factors leading to motivation occurrence. These can be learned through experience and drive people to stay motivated.
Vroom's expectancy theory does not take into account money as a motivation source either. It mainly focuses on the task and our abilities to perform it. Possessing the right skills to do something motivates us to accomplish the action. The possibility of obtaining the wanted results and value of the task itself drives people to perform the action. Combined together, they create a great strength for us to stay motivated in the workplace.
Locke's goal theory would have an application here only if we perceive the set goal not to be connected with the monetary reward.
Two different viewpoints have been illustrated with regards to the question of money as the main source of motivation at work. Many theories concerning work motivation have been created and each of them depicts various factors as the drive for motivation. However, it must be stated that money is the main reason for working. It is intrinsically involved in the idea of having a job. Regardless of the fact that there might be other components relating to work motivation, receiving an income is an underlying cause for staying in work. Some of us might not admit money as of great importance when discussing staying motivated. Nevertheless, the idea of earning income is subconsciously planted in our minds. Even though we might perceive other factors that are the source of our motivation at work, without money this motivation is completely absent. All in all, striving to achieve a promotion at work will always be related to more income and it cannot be overlooked. Therefore, money will always be intrinsically involved with motivation at work. However insignificant it may be perceived by the individuals as a motivator at work, it is subconsciously related to our main purpose of work.
The aim of this report was to present a concept of motivation, its application at work and the main reasons for its occurrence. There are many theories striving to find the underlying causes of motivation at work. Content theories which are based on the factors that motivate people at work include Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Herzberg's two factors theory and McClelland's theory. Process theories which concentrate on the reasons for motivation and the influences for our behaviour involve Adam's equity theory, Vroom's expectancy theory and Locke's goal theory.
The key findings of the paper present the use of the above mentioned theories in light of the fact that money is the main reason for motivation at work. It has been proved that both theories might either support or oppose this argument. One might argue that Maslow's hierarchy theory, Adam's equity theory and Locke's goal theory are supporting this statement. On the contrary, Herzberg's theory, McClelland's theory, Vroom's expectancy theory and Locke's goal setting theory viewed from a different angle are in opposition to the fact that money is the sole source of motivation at work.
List of references
Arnold, J. et. al., 4th Edition (2005). Work Psychology: Understanding Human Behaviour in the Workplace.; Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
Huczynski, A., Buchanan, D., 4th Edition (2001). Organizational Behaviour: An Introductory text.; Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.