Motivation & Productivity in the Workplace

Motivation is the most important factor that determines employee performance and the retention of employees. According to Kian and Yusuf (2012) as cited evidence from Wregner and Miller (2003), motivation is described as something that energizes individuals to take actions and which is concerned with the decisions the individuals make as part of his or her goal-oriented behavior. In recent, Saraswathi (2011) stated that motivation is the consent to give a high level of effort to achieve organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some needs of the individual.

According to Fuller (2008), motivation is the person’s strength, direction, and persistence of efforts to attain a specific objective. Money is not the only motivator that an employee can inspire. There are other incentives that can also serve as motivators (Acar (2014) as cited in Tella, Ayeni & Popoola 2007: 2).

The workplace motivation theories are classified as either process theory or content theory (Campbell et. al., 1970; Lynne, 2012 as cited in Yusoff, Kian & Idris (2013)).

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In the content theory, it highlights factors and needs that boost and motivate employees’ behavior as well as performance. Lynne (2012) stated that all employees in the organization have the same set of needs.

On the other hand, process theory illustrates that employees’ behavior is driven by their individual needs and employees are content when their expectations and values are met in their job.

According to ( Kian & Yusoff, 2012), among all content and process theories of motivation, Frederick Herzberg’s well-known Two-Factor Theory has presented distinctive factors of employees’ motivations.

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Herzberg defined two factors named Motivation and Hygiene Factors which decide employee working attitudes and level of performance (Robbins, 2009). Motivation Factors are known as Intrinsic Factors that will increase employees’ job satisfaction; while Hygiene Factors are known as Extrinsic Factors to prevent any employees’ dissatisfaction. Herzberg fostered that satisfying Hygiene Factors will not necessarily result in employees’ job satisfaction.

When considering those factors separately, Extrinsic Factors are also well known as job context factors and these factors give direction for employers in creating a satisfactory working environment where employees feel contented. Extrinsic motivation can be defined as doing something because it leads to a divisible outcome. It means that outside reinforcement or rewards are earned from performing a task than actual enjoyment of the task (Acar, 2014). According to College (2009), Extrinsic factors such as money and pay rewards support employees to decide whether to stay in the job or not.

On the other hand, Intrinsic factors are the one that contribute to employees’ level of job satisfaction. It is known as job content factors that focuses on providing employees meaningful works that are able to inherently satisfy themselves by their works consequences, responsibilities delegated, the experience gathered and achievements obtained ( Robbins, 2009). Intrinsic Factors are very effective in creating and maintaining more long-lasting positive effects on employees’ performance towards their jobs as these factors are human basic needs for psychological growth.

Intrinsic Factors (Motivators) in the workplace (According to Herzberg)

  • Achievements: This includes the personal satisfaction of completing a job, solving problems, and seeing the results of one’s efforts.
  • Recognition: This is the recognition by others for a job well done or personal accomplishment.
  • Work Itself: The actual content of the job and its positive or negative effect upon the employee whether the job is characterized as interesting or boring, varied or routine, creative or stultifying, excessively easy or excessively difficult, challenging or non-demanding.
  • Advancements: The opportunity for advancement or promotion based on one’s ability.
  • Growth: This includes actual learning of new skills, with a greater possibility of advancement within the current occupational specialty as well as personal growth.

X and Y generation difference

Kupperschmidt (2000) defined a generation as an identical group of people who share birth years, age, location and significant historical events that occurred during their lifetime. The groups are known to as cohorts whose members are bound to each other and sharing the life experiences they gathered during their life time and the cohort ages are influenced by generational markers (Kian & Yusoff, 2012). The workplace is consisted with four generations since the past decades until now (Ching, 2012). They are, Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X (Gen X), and Generation Y (Gen Y). These generations represent four groups of people who were born in four different range of years. Traditionalists are the one who was born between 1925-1945.Acording to Ching 2012, they are known as World War II Generation since they have experienced World War II. Baby boomers were born between 1946 -1964 and they have unpleasant life experiences relating to post-World War II. Generation X are those who were born between 1965 -1980 and the Generation Y people were born after 1980. According to Ching (2012) as cited evidence from Kowske, Rasch and Willey (2010) suggested that there are significant differences between Gen X and Gen Y in terms of the job satisfaction and turnover intention. The study done by Kian and Yusoff (2012) concluded that there is a significant difference on extent of satisfaction for both Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors between Gen X and Gen Y. thus the researcher will be focusing on Gen X and Gen Y in the current study.

Generation X

As mentioned above Generation X people were born between 1965 -1980. They are also known as baby bust generation since its small size when compared to the preceding generation that is Baby Boomers (Generational Differences in the Workplaces, 2008). According to Kian and Yusoff (2012) as cited evidence from Dougan, (2008) stated that Generation X learnt from their elders that following company rules and regulations is least likely secure their jobs. During their childhood, they saw the worries of the adults caused by recession, inflation, and stagflation (Ching (2012) as cited evidence from the Association of American Retired Persons (2007)). Kupperschmidt (2000) revealed that Generation X is the children of Boomers the workaholic parents and who inherited boomers’ social debris. The role of women has also changed. Generation x grew up alone as latchkey kids and they faced the life independently (Glass, 2007). They learnt how to be self-reliant and individualistic and want a balance between work and the life (Bristow, Amyx, Castleberry, & Cochran, 1990).

The historical incidents which affected Generation X in their childhood caused to create identical traits and characteristics within them. According to Kupperschmidt (2000) Generation X are multitasking parallel thinkers that able to do several tasks in one time. Not only that but also they are risk takers and entrepreneurial. Gursoy, (2008) Generation X employees seek work life balance. They are very keen on problem solving and prefer not to take extra work. Smola and Sutton, 2002 found that Generation X members may have more commitment towards their own career rather than the organization they work and prefer to work in an organization which values skill development, productivity and work life balance than status and tenure. According to Tay (2011), Generation X employees are more money-oriented and skeptical than the Boomers. According to Kian and Yusoff (2012) s cited evidence from Santos and Cox (2000) suggested that generation X like to work in a flexible working environment with high autonomy, interesting yet challenging work, and giving opportunity for career growth. They want to maintain a career security and increase the marketability through challenging jobs in which the employer provide on the job training to enhance the job related knowledge (Kupperschmidt, 2000). They prefer face-to face communication as the Baby Boomers (Ching, 2012). They like to talk to the superior directly instead of sending mails and waiting replies from them (Tay, 2011; Glass, 2007). Their decisions to whether stay or leave the organization depends on opportunities for career development and prefer to be recognized and rewarded in the workplace (Ching (2012) as cited evidence from Hammil (2005)). Altimier (2006) found that much of the Generation X employees do not struggle job hopping and are less interested to remain long in an organization, but believe that with their sufficient and competitive capabilities, job hopping will provide higher promotion opportunities and higher salary. Asian Financial Crisis which occurred in 1997 was a remarkable incident that affected Generation X employees and they suffered from the limited job opportunities in their young age (Kian & Yusoff (2012) as cited evidence from Lager (2006)).

Generation Y

Generation Y are the group of people who were born after year 1980. They are also known as Millenials. They are the youngest employees in the current labor force. In future they will be replacing the Baby Boomers who are going to retire in the next few years (Ching, 2012). When comparing to Generation X, Generation Y is much larger group and emerged during the period of economic growth and technological progress (Bristow, 2011). According to Kian and Yusoff (2012) it is perceived that Generation Y employees are more cooperative and optimistic than their elders since they have high educational background or professional training. William (2008) revealed that most of them are having either a diploma.

Most of Generation Y members were grew up with the modern technology and therefore they were much more familiar with the mobile phones and other devices. They try to make network throughout social media and prefer to search new information by using internet rather than traditional newspaper or a book. So that Glass (2007) suggested that they are the first adapter since they easily embrace new gadgets and technological equipment.

In addition, generation Y are great team workers and showing a high favour in teamwork (Dougan et al., 2008) and prefer to follow directions as long as there is flexibility for them to get the work done (Gursoy et al., 2008; Iyer & Reisenwitz, 2009). Their motivations rely much on good teamwork with their team members (Murphy, 2010). Since they experienced an equal status and opportunities to voice in schools’ extra-curriculums, they are also showing their capabilities in group activities, practicing instant communication and expecting feedback in their workplaces (Gursoy et al., 2008).

According to the study done by Kian and Yusoff (2012), “Generation X and Y and their work motivation”, it has been found that both X and Y generations show some differences in their Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation factors. Not only that but also it suggested that generation cohorts have their own groups of characteristics, aspirations, and workplace expectations that creates a difference in motivation factors.

As per the study conducted by Ching (2012), “The association between generation X and Y and intention to leave, it was conveyed the idea that the X and Y generations’ expectation of motivational factors is different from each other.

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Motivation & Productivity in the Workplace. (2020, Nov 22). Retrieved from

Motivation & Productivity in the Workplace
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