Motivating Employees: Exploring Pleasure and Mastery in the Workplace

In the Effectance Theory of Motivation, Robert White and Susan Harter argue that human motivation is driven by the inherent pleasure that we can derive from exploring our environment. The theory also espouses the idea that motivation is driven by our curiosity, mastery and attempts to deal with the same environment. The theory, therefore, suggests that employees in a workplace can be motivated if they are able to get pleasure and are able to cope with their workplace situations, whether these pleasures and coping mechanisms are given to them by their superiors or they are able to acquire these on their own.

The theory set forth by White and Harter can be applied in a number of workplace situations drawn from my personal experience. These workplace situations include: one, increasing the efficiency of employees by identifying their immediate needs in the context of the workplace; two, increasing the productivity of the employees by stimulating their curiosity in performing their tasks and by introducing them to new methods and instruments to complete their tasks, and; three, increasing their personal satisfaction as part of the workforce by exposing them to a series of seminars, trainings and workshops.

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In increasing the efficiency of employees, it is important to consider their immediate needs in the context of the workplace because their workplace environment directly affects their work performance. Employees working in a work environment that is not conducive or is not comfortable are likely to lose interest with their tasks. In my previous workplace experience, my co-workers had a hard time doing their job because their individual cubicles were not properly built or lacked some of the essential tools that they need in order to fulfill their duties.

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For example, one of them who worked as a database encoder once had troubles accessing the database due to the lack of updated software. By assessing the work needs of that employee, the company immediately provided the resources needed by the employee. In the end, the employee was not only given the updated version of the software he was using; he was also given a new computer. All of the tools that were given to him eventually motivated him to work harder and to become more efficient with the results of his work.

Another example is the time when I was not at ease working in my desk because the layout of the cubicle was not pleasing to my eyes. Not only did the walls look dull; the walls themselves were not properly aligned as the corners were almost overlapping. I brought the issue to the attention of my superiors, telling them that the condition of the cubicle posed certain work hazards and it also was not pleasing to the eyes. Fortunately, my superiors acted on it and immediately called for the repairs of the cubicles in the office. As a result, I was all the more motivated to finish my daily tasks in office.

By introducing employees to new methods and instruments, their curiosity is aroused. Moreover, they are also given new ways to become more productive as they are then able to perform and complete more of their duties in as little time as possible. The introduction of better-performing computers in our workplace made us work faster and better. As the capabilities of the computers that we were given were better than the old ones we previously had, the computer programs that we used were more efficient. We then had little troubles manipulating those programs to the best advantage.

Employees in the workplace became even more satisfied with their individual tasks. Their knowledge of the new computer programs roused their curiosity inasmuch as it also gave them more confidence in handling more complicated work knowing that they have the best tools at their disposal. Other ways to stimulate the curiosity of the employees in the workplace include surprise visits of superiors to specific employees while doing their work in their respective cubicles and the hands-on guidance of superiors in introducing new work techniques to their subordinates.

At first, the unannounced personal visits will bring curiosity into the minds of the employees as they have nothing in mind as to why their superiors are doing their rounds. Eventually, this will give the employees a sense of importance in the workplace as they will begin to feel that they have a crucial role to play in the office, signified by the fact that their superiors are paying them visits to ensure that they are doing well in their job. Of utmost significance is the result that these visits will motivate the employees to fill their roles much better.

The hands-on guidance of superiors in introducing new work techniques to subordinates can also bring curiosity to the minds of the employees. As these techniques are presented to them face-to-face, they have little choice but to focus on what these techniques have to offer. Their first encounter with such techniques will challenge them to meet the expectations not only of their superiors but also of the requirements of the new work techniques. With the attention of their superiors focused on them, they will be motivated to meet the challenge of mastering the techniques.

Lastly, a series of seminars, trainings and workshops can raise the motivation of the employees. The exposure to these events can raise their personal satisfaction with their capabilities and work-related skills. They will gain more knowledge which they can apply to their work instead of being left behind in terms of skills awareness and acquisition. If the workplace situation is an environment that promotes the skills awareness and acquisition of the employees, there is little reason to believe that the employees will not become motivated and more productive.

On the contrary, a workplace environment that advances the individual growth of the employees as part of the workforce will push the employees to stay on top of their game, in a manner of speaking. In my work experience, the company that I have worked for always made sure that the employees were equipped with the latest knowledge in the corporate world. Trainings, seminars and workshops were regularly held both within and without the company grounds.

Most of the events were held outside in the belief that the employees will not only learn new things but will also develop good camaraderie. Each of the seminars we have attended offered unique experiences and knowledge that we would have not known otherwise. As a result, the employees were personally satisfied with the way the company considers their professional and personal needs. The satisfaction, in turn, bolstered the motivation of the employees. Apparently, the monthly performance of each employee steadily grew and the performance of the company as a whole gained much benefit.

Indeed, the theory of White and Harter provides substantial insight into the way the motivation of employees is influenced by a number of factors that deal with the things that employees derive from their experiences in the workplace. If the motivation of the employees is sought to be increased, it is highly advisable to consider the inclination of the employees to interact with and explore their working environment. Satisfying their desire to master their workplace environment can give huge benefits both to the employees and to the employers.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

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Motivating Employees: Exploring Pleasure and Mastery in the Workplace. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Motivating Employees: Exploring Pleasure and Mastery in the Workplace essay
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