Five Keys To Employee Motivation

Most managers I meet admit that motivating employees is one of the most challenging issues they struggle with. In my EMBA class on Organizational Behavior, we spend several weeks digesting the most recent evidence on employee motivation and engagement.

In our assigned reading from the book “Becoming the Evidence-Based Manager,” Gary Latham offers the following five evidence-based suggestions to help motivate employees to become high performers (pp. 75-76):

  1. Attend to employees’ psychological and security needs
  2. Make sure your employees have high, specific goals
  3. Focus on job performance
  4. Understand and change the work environment if necessary
  5. Avoid demotivation

What doesn’t work? The evidence shows that using money as a motivator in the form of a raise or occasional bonus does not get you much improvement in performance. Oddly enough, giving employees a monetary reward for work they would have done anyway can reduce the intrinsic appeal and satisfaction of doing the work.

Pay is important for motivation because it must be seen as sufficient and fair. Latham goes on to say:

Pay is important to the extent that it enables employees to satisfy their needs for security and autonomy. Pay is not motivating if it is not closely tied to performance. If high performers are paid the same as low performers, both job performance and job satisfaction will be low. Money is motivating to the extent it leads to the setting of and commitment to high goals. (77).

Latham is not saying that money is required for people to set and commit to high goals. Money is most effective when it is aligned with the goals people would set anyway to excel at the work they love to do.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Related Posts:

Does Pay Level Affect Job Satisfaction?

High Performance Work Systems Affect Employee Attitudes And Group Performance

Meaningful Progress: The Fundamental Management Principle

About Bret Simmons

Nevada Management Professor

Posted on November 9, 2011, in evidence-based management, organizational behavior and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I think this is a very relevant article. I know of a place that gives the same percentage raise to all employees across the board. It’s very demotivating for the high performance employees to know that people who do not put in as much effort are guaranteed the same raise.

  2. I hope to be in this program when it is all said and done… Good marketing…

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