Motivation, job satisfaction and work performance


People management is a critical aspect of the management process and it is imperative to acknowledge the important role that employees play in an organisation. Unlike decades ago when profit was the main concern and employees were viewed as liability of an organisation rather than assets, organisations have today recognized the important roles employees play in the organisation, changing the old adage to a scenario where much resources are now channelled towards employee development.  The future of every organisation is highly dependent of the workforce, thus organisations must channel their efforts to ensure that they have a highly motivated workforce in order to achieve or exceed their set objectives (Davar and RanjuBala 2012). This paper explores how motivation and job satisfaction impact of the performance of employees and the overall performance of organisations in which they work. It delves into organisational behaviour theories to explain how motivation and job satisfaction influences the performance of employees and organisations they work in.

To begin with, it is crucial to understand the meaning of motivation and satisfaction before trickling down to how these aspects of organizational behaviour impact on performance. Motivation a term that refers to a fundamental psychological process, which is exhibited in the zeal and commitment of employees to their jobs, which often manifest in their performance outcome and the quality of the products of an organization (Saari and Judge 2004).

Abraham Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs is one of the most popular theories that have helped people understand motivation. According to Maslow’s theory of needs, motivation emanates from people’s persistent attempts to fulfil five fundamental basic needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization (King-Hill 2015; Robbins 2009). According to Maslow, these needs vary in urgency and importance thus they come in order of precedence. The initial four levels of Maslow model comprises of deficiency needs, which motivate people to work harder to achieve them if they remain unmet (Lussier 2015).  The more these needs remain unmet, the stronger is the desire to meet them. This particularly resonate with my unwavering desire to one day become the CEO of an organization. The more time I take before getting there, the more I yearn and know I need to work harder to achieve my objective.  The growth also known as the being-needs occupies the top and can only be met after fulfilling the lower needs (Landy and Conte 2010). However, Maslow’s assumption that higher needs can only be met once the lower ones have been met is not entirely true.  For example, even though large masses live in abject poverty, they have achieved love, a higher need in the hierarchy. Also, Maslow focused on qualitative characteristics of a certain group of individuals in the society, which does not give a clear picture of the society in general.

Another theory that helps managers to understand the concept of motivation and satisfaction is Herzberg’s to-factor theory. According to this theory, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are two distinct things and not the opposite of each other. Herzberg argued that the mid-point between dissatisfaction and satisfaction has a zero value, that is, both satisfaction and dissatisfaction are deficient (Kreitner, 2009). An employee who dwells within the zero mid-point is neither dissatisfied nor satisfied with his job and pay. However, the employee lacks motivation since the job offers no challenge. As such, other than material motivators, it is crucial to establish an interesting and more challenging job, which encourages an employee to go beyond his usual boundary to achieve desired outcome (Mafini and Pooe 2013; Bakotić 2016; Latif et al. 2016).

The expectancy theory is another approach to understanding how and what motivate employees in their jobs. According to this theory employees are bound to put more effort in their work if they have a conviction that their effort will not be in vain but will immensely contribute to performance improvement and that they stand a chance to get rewards from such outstanding performances (Leonard and Trusty 2015). Employees must be in a position to link effort and reward in order to be highly motivated failure to which there will be a lowly motivated workforce. For example, if workers at Wal-Mart receive no training on how to effectively and efficiently perform their tasks and no performance evaluation and feedback is issued to them by their supervisor and no increment in their wages, the employees are bound to be oblivious of the link between their effort and performance (Kuballa 2007). They are likely to develop a notion that no amount of effort will improve performance and no reward will be given for putting more effort in their jobs. Similarly, if a company has no reward mechanism for its hardworking employees, lowly performing or average workers will make no effort to improve their performances because it does not make a difference. People will often put more effort into things that add value to them (Kruse 2012). Consequently, organizations that reward their hardworking employees will have a pool of motivated and satisfied employees, thus high individual and organisational performance.

In conclusion, motivation, job satisfaction and performance go hand-in-hand. In order for an employee to be productive in their work, he or she must have the enthusiasm and commitment to execute the assigned tasks. Employees must love their work and channel greater effort to deliver what is expected of them. However, managers must understand that there are numerous factors that motivate different people. Fortunately, theories of organizational behaviour offer a platform through which managers can understand and implement various employee motivation schemes in order to ensure high levels of motivation, job satisfaction and performance, which translates to high overall organizational productivity.

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