While money is most favorably ranked among motivational factor in the workplace, research now suggests that other motivating factors are gaining equal importance in context to motivational theories. Findings reveal that challenging work and worker appreciation are equally as significant to improved employee motivation as cash rewards. At one time, money was viewed as the most powerful productivity motivator.
What perhaps has now changed the thinking about employee’s motivation was researched in the article “A Little Appreciation Goes A Long Way” by Joe Schumacher, Training program director with the Office of Personnel Management, Management Development in West, Aurora, CO. In the article, Mr. Schumacher found that workers were motivated not solely by money but that there were other factors that were equally as significant in value and motivation.
This supplemental article supports the cover article titled “Why Cash Doesn’t Motivate” by Lorri Freifeid (2011) the article suggests that while money can motivate, it is only able to motivate to a certain extent and a only for a short time. Discovering what make employees charged or motivated has been an ongoing study for many years. Theorists have provided a number of approaches that have aided us in understanding the concept of motivation.
Some of those approaches include Maslow’s hierarchy- needs theory, Alderfer’s hierarchy theory of needs, McClelland’s theory of needs; along with approaches such as the Herzberg’s two- factory and the Skinner theory of reinforcement just to name a few. In the article, Schumacher refers to the Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory, when he suggest that workers over the past decade are shifting their attention more up the list of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs(p. 8) The author noted that in today’s workforce workers value intrinsic rewards which lead to meaningful, creative and independent work, far more than the traditional elements of workforce prestige (2001, p. 18) In his research Schumacher (2011) asked workers what they wanted from their jobs and from their managers. Workers wanted managers that were team-players, compassionated leaders that serve and protect. (p. 18. ) these needs were equally as important to them as any tangible reward. They also wanted jobs that provided opportunities for training and development.
Additionally, workers expressed their need of being intellectually challenged and given the elbowroom to define their purpose; they wanted accurate and timely feedback on their performances, with a view of advancement. Workers simply wanted to feel respected as colleagues rather than subordinates or headcounts. (p. 18) Alderfer’s theory provides a similar framework to Maslow’s theory, suggesting that people seek higher order needs as sources of motivation. In his theory, Alderfer expresses “growth” as the highest form of need which is achieved when creativity and productivity are encouraged.
It implies that extrinsic rewards solely cannot provide motivation, thus higher order needs become necessary to fulfill and sustain worker satisfaction and motivation. What was most interesting about the article was the order in which employees ranked the motivational factors. When asked by the author what they wanted most from their jobs and managers (p. 18) the key motivating factor from them was: training, growth and promotion within the organization, accurate and timely performance feedback, recognition and respect.
However, what was most notable was how those ranking compared to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory thus providing some insight into what really motivates employees in the workforce. Schumacher noted in his conclusion. “The most exciting part of this is that almost all these best practices of leadership cost nothing. (p. 18) The statement confirms that the small gestures and intangibles that costs the least can have the greatest impact on employee motivation and performance.