Understanding How to Motivate to Improve Job Performance

Understand the factors that influence motivation levels in the workplace

Define the term motivation

The definition of motivation (to motivate) is factors that encourage an individual to perform to the best of their abilities. This could internally drive or could be a beneficial external factor.
Motivation can be found in all aspects of life from sporting achievements to home improvements.
Motivation in the workplace often comes down to a list of factors relating to the need of an individual. This will differ from one person to the next but they are often common trends between the needs for example:-

External Factors: (Extrinsic)

  • Money/Salary
  • Bonus Incentives
  • Annual Leave
  • Health Benefits
  • Working hours/Flexibility of working hours
  • Location of the organization

Internal Factors: – (Intrinsic)

  • Carer Development/Promotion
  • Loyalty to the organization
  • Loyalty to fellow employees
  • The work ethic of the individual
  • Devotion to the Job
  • Security
  • For social contact
  • Responsibility

When looking at motivational factors, money for some is probably the most important motivator.

This is because we need money to fulfil our basic needs as well as live a comfortable life.

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Dependant on the individual they could have multiple external and internal factors to work for a particular organization for example: – because the salary is competitive, they have flexible working hours and they know the opportunity to develop within the organization will be a possibility.

In summary, we all have different factors or reasons that relate to our individual needs. If you can identify the factor/factors for that individual then you will know what motivates them as a person.

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The Business Dictionary definition of Motivation: Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.

Describe the factors that may affect motivation levels in the workplace (Describe at least three factors) (16 marks)

Within a workplace many contributing factors may affect an individual’s motivation within the workplace:

Training and development

Training and development is a key factor which can affect motivation. Training is important for employees to be able to recognise their personal growth within their role. Training gives an employee the knowledge and understanding of why and how a task is completed. It also gives the employee the skill set to know what to do when things go wrong. When training within an organisation is poor or non- existent it can make an employee feel unable to complete tasks set to them, this could cause an employee to become anxious about tasks set, giving them a feeling of doubt or worthlessness. For an employee to have the drive and passion to complete tasks to the best of their ability full training of any task is paramount as this will give the employee the drive not only to complete the task set but have a sense of accomplishment whilst raising self-esteem. Training within an organisation also highlights any additional training the individual may need.

Relationships with co-workers

Relationships within any organization are highly important as a factor in motivation. Co-workers spend a lot of time with each other when at work so it’s important that employees feel well supported by their peers/colleagues. Most employees within an organization start as acquaintances but over time through communication, learning and supporting each other relationships are formed. This in turn, if an individual feels well supported by peers/colleagues they will be more confident in dealing with difficult situations as they arise. This is beneficial to the organization as it gives employees a team spirit that increases staff morale and will assist with smooth running and productivity.


Within any organization, Equality is a contributing motivational factor. This being if an employee feels as though they are treated fairly or unfairly this will contribute towards the individual’s motivation to complete the task.

Unfairly: An Unfairly treated employee could feel singled out and upset, causing resentment or hostility towards the organisation and also their colleagues, it can also cause upset between colleagues. This then could contribute to the breaking down of relationships within the organization. Morale between employees would below which in turn could make employees question their loyalty to the organization. Their attitude towards tasks given to them could be of a disinterested approach, only putting in the minimum effort required to complete the task. A disloyal, upset, the unfairly treated employee is unlikely to stay with the organization which then becomes detrimental due to recruitment and training costing. This can also affect an organization’s reputation as it will increase staff turnover.

Fairly: A fairly treated employee will have a clear understanding of what is required of them and the boundaries that they work in. All employees will know what to expect in terms of consequences, rewards, promotions, and bonuses. These are based on organizational policy through merit and achievement. An employee will feel secure and trust the organization they work for as they will understand that the organization supports the individual. A fairly treated employee is likely to stay with the organization, whilst raising morale between staff. If they know they are being treated fairly in terms of e.g.: holidays, sick pay, work expectancy they are more likely to stay with the employing organization.

Managing employees in this way are important to creating a peaceful and constructive workplace. It gives all employees equal access to opportunities within an organization.

Work-Life Balance

An individual’s home life can be an influencing factor in an employee’s motivation. Homelife and how it affects you at work will come solely down to what type of person you are. There are two types of people, Segmenters and Integrators. Dependant on what type of person you are will contribute to your organization.

Segmenters set clear boundaries between their home and work life. They are able to leave problems, issues at the door as they enter work, leaving them able to focus on their roles and tasks. This, in turn, will cause them less stress and anxiety as they will be able to focus on the task in hand. This could work both ways as in if a person was stressed at work they would be able to switch off from it as they leave work, this clearly defines one from the other as they can shut off and walk away from one situation to the next.

Integrators let personal challenges blend into their working lives. An integrator could have concentration issues with tasks set. As they let their home and work-life blend focusing on a single to multiple tasks could prove difficult. They could cause disruption within organisations as other staff maybe become involved in a discussion over the issue which in turn will reduce productivity.

Segmenters vs integrators

Stated in Journal of Vocational Behavior, J.B. Olson-Buchanan and W. R. Boswell (2006) theorize that when employees set clear boundaries between their work life and home life, they’re less likely to experience conflict between the two fronts. They put themselves in a position to give both lives enough attention; in other words, they’re able to switch off one and concentrate on the other.

Explain how individual differences affect levels of motivation in the workplace (Describe at least three different factors) (12 marks)

Understanding of role

When looking at an individual understanding of their role we first have to distinguish that skills and knowledge are two separate factors.

Skill is the ability to do a task, developed through learning. The skills we develop through learning experiences can be positive to an individuals’ family life, the wider community, or the potential to do their job. When reflecting on an employee’s skills and qualities there is much to learn/gain from the individual. Being able to create a profile of the individuals’ skills can identify areas for personal development. There will always be different levels of skills and practicing a task is usually a good way of improving this. This in turn, over time will give the individual knowledge in the skill they are implementing.

Knowledge: is a mix of familiarity with factual information and theoretical concepts of a task set. Knowledge also enables better and faster decision making whilst stimulate innovation and growth. Having the knowledge in any task given is a skill to which an employee can show strength, determination and persistence to be able to assist peers in key decision making, whilst also taking responsibility for their actions.

An understanding of a role within an organization is an influential motivator. If an employee has been given clear clarity on their role they will have a willingness to learn which can mean being open to new ideas and experiences. Skills or knowledge are an essential factor in the understanding of the role as they help to plan, implement, and have an end vision to any given tasks set. This will not only improve motivation but also gives individual responsibility and job satisfaction. Job satisfaction for an individual is important as it gives a sense of achievement within an organization, a sense of personal achievement increases morale which in turn has the potential to increase productivity.

Individual Creativity

Being creative at work generally means taking risks; this can be a positive or negative factor used by individuals and again often comes down to personality type. Being a creative thinker means that you come up with unique ideas this can be inspiring and motivational.

Positive: there are many positive benefits to being individually creative. Creative thinkers know that their talents are best used to make results that might come from unordinary circumstances or by thinking out of the box. Creative problem solving comes into effect when trying to fix an issue that has many possible resolutions. While a lot of problems in the workplace are different, creative people have the ability to look at all angles of the issues, and often can come up with solutions that might be completely new and interesting. Other employees and managers and the organization benefit from creative problem solving because it can take them as individuals or sometimes the organization itself in a whole new direction.

Negative: There are also negatives to being individually creative, one being that the consequences of bad creativity can impact future attempts at being creative. Creative ideas/suggestions might fail even before their implementation, which could disrupt an organization. The introduction of new ideas or replacing existing processes or roles can be highly costly and disruptive whilst causing mental strain and resistance from other employees, which can lead to job insecurity. While resistance to change is not uncommon when implementing new ideas the negative effects need to be on the agenda of any creative individual. Learning from failed creativity is a key learning outcome for any future ideas.

A Forbes article states: True business and marketing leaders embrace uncertainty and complexity as creative catalysts that invite and, in fact, demand innovation. Creative leaders should view constraints at every level as exciting challenges that release–not restrict–creative responses. Additionally, creative leadership recognizes the risk in trying new things and doesn’t fear failure.


This is a contributing factor to an individual’s motivation. The importance of individual wellbeing inside and outside the workplace is being more commonly acknowledged within organizations. People go through challenging circumstances at home that can lead to distractions at work causing an impact on an employee’s motivation. Mental health is one of the key contributors to productivity, and organisations should recognize the mental well-being of their staff. The impact an individual’s well-being can have not only on themselves but also on those around them, with this affecting, the productivity of a team/organization as a whole, not just the individual.

Acas suggests that a definition of wellbeing is:

The term “wellbeing” covers several aspects of the way people feel about their lives, including their jobs and their relationships with the people around them. Of course, a person’s wellbeing is to do with their character and home or social life along with the workplace.

Explain the potential impact on organizational performance if employee motivation levels are low (Give relevant examples from your workplace) (12 marks)

Poor service levels

When an employee is unmotivated at work it can have many effects on the organization, one being the level of service offered. The employee will do the minimal to get through the working day. This, in turn, leads to poor service levels offered as the employee will be distracted or the apathy for the job will be non- existent. When a lack of apathy for a job is non –existent, an employee is unlikely to find a resolution to occurring problems as this would involve time, thought, and effort. A drop-in service level usually follows from an employee not giving a task the time and effort that is needed. Not complying with policies and procedures will always affect service levels which then results in unsatisfactory work performance, complaints, and a drop in customer service levels. A definition of poor service levels is a failure to perform the duties of the position or to perform them to the standard required. Unsatisfactory work performance and drop in customer service levels can have multiple effects on an organization from financial, to disruption, which may make other employees question the credibility of the organization. Drop-in service levels will then lead to dissatisfied patients. Dissatisfied patients can have an imperative effect on the organizations’ reputation.

High Staff Turnover

High turnover of staff within an organization can have an influential impact on existing employee’s motivation. When employees don’t feel respected, engaged with and treated with equality this can often lead to resignation and finding employment elsewhere. A high staff turnover rate can affect not only the finances to the organizations, through time spent on employment advertisement, but also the training and integration of new staff members into existing teams. A high staff turnover rate can contribute to the definition of the organisations’ culture which in turn can affect the reputation resulting in difficulties in recruiting new staff. All of these factors impact on existing staff and their levels of motivation, whilst demonstrating to patients that the practice performance is poor and unable to retain staff.

Organization Culture

As stated in the Business Directory, An organizations culture is defined as the underlying beliefs, assumptions and ways of interacting that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. Culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid.

An organization’s culture can have an imperative impact on employee’s motivation, from existing staff to new. An established culture within a workplace can determine how employee’s attitude, behavior, and efficiency of work define them as an employee and helps them to achieve their goals. This can have an influential impact on the service that is delivered. If an employee is committed and supports the beliefs and the effectiveness of the organization they are more likely to promote a positive working culture. This, in turn, can have a beneficial impact on the organization in terms of reputation and finances. An organization with a poor culture could see higher staff turnover and potential poor service levels.

Understand how a theory of motivation can be used to improve performance levels

Describe a recognized theory of motivation (16 marks)

There are many theories of motivation but I particularly like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow defines motivation as a classification of needs and puts them into a hierarchy.

Maslow’s hierarchy is presented in a pyramid form shown above.

Maslow’s theory suggests that our motivational factors influence what we are aspiring for. The lower down the pyramid needs are the more basic they are, however, the more basic needs are required to survive. The needs have to be in order to move on to each section within the pyramid. Once the need has been satisfied the needs at this level become less important to the individual. However the exception in his theory is in this is self – actualization, as the need for self-actualization, is a need you envisage yourself to be, not a need of requirement. Maslow looks at each classification of need and defines them as:

Psychological need

The need to eat, drink, sleep. This is a basic human need to survive and once these have been met Maslow states that the need for safety comes next.

Safety need

A safety need is the need to feel secure and safe. There are many variations in the need to feel safe and secure from personal to financial security or a need to feel safe from physical harm such as war and domestic violence.

Belongingness/Love need

When an individual feels safe he or she will need to feel loved and accepted by others this can be in two different ways sexual and non -sexual. When a person is loved and has a sense of belonging, they feel much better and more motivated. Friendship and intimacy then become important to the individual.

Esteem needs

When reaching this point in Maslow’s theory, an individual will look for self -respect rather than the need just to be loved and have a friendship. At this point the individual will desire appreciation and respect from other people, they will need to achieve things and have their efforts recognised by others. Individuals who can to meet the esteem need are able to show confidence in their abilities.

Self- Actualisation

Self- Actualisation is at the top of Maslow’s theory; self-actualized people accept themselves and others for who they are giving the individual a sense of happiness and contentment. An individual who drives for self- actualization will seek personal growth and potential experiences.
Maslow states that by achieving each section in his triangle you as an individual become satisfied with that need. Satisfaction and stability then give an individual the drive/desire to go on and achieve the next section. Following this most are destined to hit the top at self-actualization. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes what people need and want and what drives individuals to hit the top of his hierarchy of self- actualization. Everyone is capable and has the need/desire to be able to achieve and move up the triangle but often a disruption in the lower level of needs can contribute to individuals not meeting the top level of self- actualization. Therefore not everyone will automatically move in Maslow’s theory as due to life disruptions could mean individuals move back and forth depending on where they are at in their life. Life disruptions can come in many forms from, Job loss, Family commitments, etc.

Describe ways in which knowledge of a theory of motivation can be used to improve performance in the workplace ( Describe at least three different ways) (20 marks)

Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory gives employers gives different aspects of knowledge and understanding when looking at each employee and see what drives them to be motivated.

Setting Goals

The willingness to achieve a goal is the main source of job motivation for most. Most employees will have set their own intrinsic goals for example, basic psychological and safety needs to the fulfillment of self-actualization. Growth and bettering yourself as an individual is a natural process for most. By identifying and setting appropriate achievable goals an individual will naturally empower them giving responsibility and the desire to grow and develop which in turn increases motivation within an organization.

Providing equal opportunities

Maslow identified that the individual will have their own driving aspect of motivation. This could be down to a difference in given opportunity to home circumstance dependent or their need. Within an organization, if an employer ensures employees are provided with the same opportunities and fair treatment, morale will improve, giving individuals the want to gain new skills and abilities. This then will become the predominant need for that individual whilst encouraging motivation to strive for more. If an organization promotes equal opportunities individuals will thrive and people from all backgrounds will come together. Employees coming together give a sense of team spirit to an organization; the team spirit will naturally increase motivation which will contribute to organizations’ productivity.

Job Satisfaction

Satisfaction is an emotional response to a given task that is performed well. Satisfied employees are more committed to an organisation. A committed employee will be more creative and productive and will have the drive to learn more whilst adapting new skills and develop abilities. If an employer helps employees achieve job satisfaction by creating a productive well-led organisation, the culture will give employees the intrinsic motivational factor of job satisfaction which will contribute to increasing performance on a task given. If job satisfaction is high, the employees will perform better. On the other hand, if job satisfaction is low, there could be performance issues. If employers provide a positive working environment with recognition and reward this would hopefully promote employee engagement whilst gaining trust, respect and high organizational standards.

Supporting/Respecting employees

From Maslow’s theory, we can identify that each individual will be at a different stage in their life dependant on their self-drive or the opportunities in which they have been given. They could be motivated or not or could be in a neutral motivational state. We can acknowledge that each employee is different in terms of needs and motivation and the drive for self- actualization differs from one person to the next. By providing good understanding and supportive leadership to employees will ensure trust, respect and hopefully gain loyalty from the employee. As personal circumstances change for the employee due to numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors, in time would hopefully give the employee the drive to want more in terms of self-actualization. By being supportive and respective of an employee’s individuality will intern create a positive workplace culture.

Explain how to use employee engagement to increase motivation levels (16marks)

Employee engagement can be used in various forms to increase motivation within the workplace.


Communication within the organization is a key factor for employees to feel involved, it’s important that they know what’s happening within the workplace. Any developments or issues should be relayed to the whole team via meetings or other communication methods. This allows employees the opportunity to ask questions and possibly offer solutions to any problems identified. Good communication within an organization gives employees a sense of being valued and part of a team.

Leading by example

Leading by example will engage employees to also be motivated. If employees see and believe that a manager is committed and drives the organization to be productive, this, in turn, sets the culture of an organization. Managers who are committed to the vison and progression of an organization set the presidency for employers to work to. This will give employees trust and commitment and will empower them to be engaged within the organization. An employee who is engaged in an organization will have a sense of motivation.

Open door policy

An organization is an environment where individuals from different backgrounds, opportunities, and educational backgrounds come together. The culture of an organization is the foundation which brings employees together to help them enjoy and be satisfied with their work whilst being productive. A manager who has an open-door policy will give employees the initiative to openly communicate, offer feedback and raise any highlighted issues. These, in turn, encourage openness and give employees a sense of mutual respect and a feeling that they can approach managers to engage in a conversation anytime in informal surroundings.

Annual Appraisals

An annual appraisal is an effective tool for any employer to use to be able to praise, highlight, and address any additional needs of an employee. It enables employers to discuss with employees their key responsibilities, their wider participation within the team and their overall contribution (or expected contribution) whilst allowing both parties the opportunity to set achievable goals. Setting achievable goals will automatically encourage motivation. An effective appraisal will highlight any training, behavior and work quality-related issue. It can motivate an employee to contribute to ideas and innovation. This is an ideal opportunity to refocus on the individual’s personal development within the organization.

When an annual appraisal is due it’s important that the employer and employee have time to prepare, offering a set core of questions that apply to that individual’s job role will assist in this. Giving uninterrupted time to the employee in a systematic approach will engage employees. Appraisals are a key opportunity for managers to get to know there team, giving them an insight into an employer’s frame of mind and what drives them as an individual. When an employer knows their team member’s they will be able to identify the individual’s strengths and promote these to increase productivity.

As stated in an article in the Business chronicles:

The performance appraisal may be one of the few times during the year where an employee and the reviewer, typically the employee’s supervisor, can sit down and have a lengthy face-to-face discussion about all aspects of the job. Thus, the appraisal can serve many important functions. If done effectively, the appraisal can offer a large degree of satisfaction for both the employee and the reviewer.

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Understanding How to Motivate to Improve Job Performance. (2020, Sep 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/understanding-how-to-motivate-to-improve-job-performance-essay

Understanding How to Motivate to Improve Job Performance

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