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Thesis Chapter 2 - Factors That Affect Employee Motivation, Employee Retention And Employee Turnover



Review of the Literature


This chapter presents studies on motivation, how it affects the workers, and how it contributes to a company's success.


As defined by Webster's dictionary, motivation is "to provide with a motive". It comes from the root word "move",  thus, to motivate is to move people. In Psychology, Motivation is the  process that gives behavior purpose and direction (Kreitner, 1995).

In the workplace, motivation usually comes in the form of reward and recognition.


While the result of motivation may be a happier worker, managers have an ulterior motive in beginning a motivation program. Effective motivation results in increased output and/or reduced costs, which improves profitability (Davidmann, 1989). In fact, a study found that most workers can keep their jobs (i.e., not be fired) by working at 25% of their ability. However, once these same workers are motivated--are working towards something  or for some reason--they achieve 85-90% of their ability (Hersey and Blanchard, 1988).

Davidmann mentioned that satisfied people (who have their needs--or motives--met) are happy people and happy people are productive people. Therefore, the goal is to create a working environment in which people like working and in which people work well, a working environment  which helps to enrich the lives of those who work.



According to the two-dimensional paradigm of factors affecting people's attitudes about work constructed by Herzberg (1959),  hygiene factors such as company policy, supervision, interpersonal relations, working conditions, and salary are not necessarily motivators. The theory says that the absence of hygiene factors can create job dissatisfaction, but their presence does not motivate or create satisfaction.

Furthermore, he determined from the data that the motivators were elements that enriched a person's job. He found five factors in particular that were strong determiners of job satisfaction: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement. These motivators (satisfiers) were associated with long-term positive effects in job performance while the hygiene factors (dissatisfies) consistently produced only short-term changes in job attitudes and performance, which quickly fell back to its previous level.

In conclusion,  satisfiers describe a person's relationship with what she or he does, many related to the tasks being performed. Dissatisfies, on the other hand, have to do with a person' relationship to the context or environment in which she or he performs the job. The satisfiers relate to what a person does while the dissatisfies relate to the situation in which the person does what he or she does.


Maslow (1954), in his published work "Motivation and Personality", introduced his theory about how people satisfy various personal needs in the context of their work. Based on his observations as a humanistic psychologist, he postulated that there is a general pattern of needs recognition and satisfaction that people follow in generally the same sequence. He also theorized a concept called prepotency that a person could not recognize or pursue the next higher need in the hierarchy until his currently recognized need was substantially or completely satisfied. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often illustrated as a pyramid with the survival need at the broad-based bottom and the self-actualization need at the narrow top.

According to various literature on motivation, individuals often have problems consistently articulating what they want from a job. Therefore, employers have ignored what individuals say that they want, instead telling employees what they want, based on what managers believe most people want under the circumstances. Frequently, these decisions have been based on Maslow's needs hierarchy, including the factor of prepotency. As a person advances through an organization, his employer supplies or provides opportunities to satisfy needs higher on Maslow's pyramid.


Each of these theories is simple and straightforward (Bowey, 1997). They each reject money as a motivator, focusing instead on self-fulfillment (Maslow) and enrichment (Herzberg). Combining the theories together, we get the following figure: A worker who is dissatisfied (unmotivated) but competent. A competent worker who is not dissatisfied. A competent, satisfied worker.

In both theories, money (basic need; dissatisfier) is important only up to the point where basic needs are satisfied, then job satisfaction [self-actualization; job enrichment] becomes more important, according to  Davidmann (1989).

A smart manager, then, will focus first on the basic needs of his/her staff, then will progress to the higher-order needs.

Motivation expert Dr. Angela M. Bowey suggests that an eclectic approach be taken, combining the best of these theories (1997). The most important point to remember is that money is not the single motivator for an employee. Actually,. it is not base compensation which drives the employee, but what that base compensation can satisfy in a higher level of needs.

Promotions, involvement on committees, more responsibility, and prizes (like a jacket with the company logo) are all motivators. Delegation is one of the most effective motivators, because it creates challenge and demonstrates trust (Josefowitz, 1983). The best system will combine both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are those which are felt directly, and include accomplishment, increased self-esteem, and new skills; extrinsic rewards are provided externally which include bonuses, praise, and promotions (Stoner, et al, 1995).

Employees value recognition most when it is initiated by the manager, and when it is immediate, sincere, specific, and positive (Nelson, et al, 1997). The key, then, is to link the effort to the reward, and the rest will take care of itself, because people work willingly for what they want and need.

Rodda (1997) summarized these findings by concluding on the following steps that will ensure effective motivation: determine the rewards valued by each employee; determine the performance you desire; make the performance level attainable; link rewards to performance; analyze what factors might counteract the effectiveness of the reward; make sure rewards are adequate

Motivation is a benefit to all involved--to the employee, the manager, and the company. An employee who likes what he/she does, or at least feels that it matters, is an employee who will be happier and more satisfied, and thus will be a more valuable asset to the company.



Bowey, Dr. A. M. (1997) Motivation at work: A key issue in

remuneration. Gainsharing [On-Line]. Available:

Davidmann, M. (1989). The will to work: What people struggle to achieve (2nd ed.)[On- Line]. Available:

Herzberg, F., Mausner, B., & Snyderman, B.B. (1959). The Motivation to Work (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Josefowitz, N. (1983) Paths to Power. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing.

Maslow, A. H. (1970). Motivation and Personality (2nd ed.). New York: Harper and Row.

Nelson, B.; Good, L.; Hill, T. (March 1997). Motivate employees according to temperament. HRMagazine, 42 (3), 51-56

Rodda,  A. (1997) Motivation in the Workplace [On-Line]. Available

Stoner, J. A. F.; Freeman, R. E.; Gilbert Jr., D. R. (1995). Management

(6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.




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