Practitioners can learn how to reduce de-motivation in the workplace by understanding the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. As argued by Lawler (1973), intrinsic rewards are more effective than extrinsic rewards at improving the output and interest of employees in an organisation. Extrinsic rewards are those rewards that are made available to individuals by others, for example, a pay rise or a larger office desk. These benefits encourage individuals to comply with a practitioner’s ideas, but are not effective in the long-run as they do not reduce de-motivation, but can in fact increase it.
Extrinsic rewards can often cause individuals to feel that they are being bought and controlled, and this can increase de-motivation as the individual begin to lose interest in what they are doing. Intrinsic rewards have the opposite effect. These are valued rewards that come from within individuals, such as increased self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment, for example. As these rewards target de-motivation by providing real motives and eliminating controls, they are often what encourage true long-term commitment from individuals.
The argument made above correlates with Herzberg’s (1968) ‘two-factor theory of motivation’, in which he stresses the need for practitioners to move from using hygiene factors; work aspects which do not reduce work de-motivation, and focus more on motivator factors; work aspects which decrease de-motivation by providing more job satisfaction and other motives to employees. By doing so, Herzberg argued, practitioners could increase job enrichment, which is a way of improving the work experience so that the needs of employees are met, and their motivations (and, as a result, their performance) are enhanced.
Methods of helping employees to achieve job enrichment, also known as vertical loading factors, include giving employees more responsibilities, such as the decisions regarding recruitment and priorities, problem solving, and allowing employees to train others. Growth need strength is the term used to describe the measure of the willingness and/or capability of an individual to positively react to methods which try to increase motivation. If a practitioner wants to learn how to eliminate de-motivation amongst his employees, he must first understand how his employees see themselves, and determine their level of growth need strength.
Different people have different views of their roles in society, as well as in the workplace. Those employees who feel that they are ‘pawns of fate’ will be more difficult to motivate than those who see themselves as ‘rational masters’. The former believe that they are just insignificant figures influenced and controlled by higher beings (i. e. practitioners) to achieve a goal, while the latter see their destiny as being in their own control, and will often motivate themselves. Pawns of fate will therefore have lower growth need strengths than rational masters.
It could be argued that practitioners need to encourage their employees to feel that they have more significance, thus giving them a sense of purpose and reducing their de-motivation. In other words, practitioners need to increase growth need strength in the workplace so that their employees will respond positively to techniques which are designed to reduce de-motivation. Also, practitioners need to explore what it is that most motivates their employees at present: economic reward, intrinsic satisfaction, or the social relationships which they form with colleagues at work?
By beginning to understand what it is that is providing the most stimulation for employees, practitioners can start to explore different ways which allow their employees to follow a career path which complements their interests. For example, if Mr. Smith enjoys coming in to work because he enjoys interacting with clients and colleagues, his boss could incorporate more customer relations-orientated work into his duties. This is known as job sculpting, an idea developed by Butler and Waldroop.
For those practitioners who are less sure of what it is that motivates their staff, there are measures which are seen as virtually universally effective at reducing motivation. One idea is to combine the tasks of their employees, so that job variety is increased and the employee feels his contribution to the organisation has risen. Also, as social interaction is an innate human need, allowing employees to establish additional relations with clients is also a way to reduce motivation.
Not only does this increase job variety, but it also allows the employees to receive more feedback on their performance, increasing their involvement and commitment and making them feel more needed by the organisation. It is also important for practitioners to make it clear to employees that their work is beneficial and of value. Increasing the amount of feedback that practitioners give to their employees allows the employees to feel more involved with the company, and thus more stimulated to perform better.
Employee empowerment is a factor which needs to be considered by practitioners. This is a term used to describe situations in organisations where employees are given more independence, freedom of choice and more opportunities to make decisions without supervision or control. This factor greatly reduces de-motivation as it allows the employees to become more involved with the organisation. An important motivational technique which is known to decrease de-motivation is goal-setting theory, whose main supporter was Locke (1968).
This technique has four main propositions. Firstly, it stresses the importance of setting goals which challenge the employee (these are known as stretch goals), as these encourage the employee to become more committed and to work harder. Secondly, it states that goals which are more specific also lead to better performance as it easier got employees to adjust their behaviour when they know exactly what is required of them. Thirdly, allowing employees to participate more in goal-setting increases commitment to those goals, and thus encourages better performance.
Also, well-explained and well-justified goals set by practitioners can also encourage high performance. Fourthly, feedback also helps improve performance as it provides employees with responses to their efforts and thus motivates them to do better or to continue to achieve good results. The reduction of de-motivation in the workplace is essential to both practitioners and their employees. For practitioners, this relevance is due to the improved performance that a reduction in de-motivation produces, which enables practitioners to achieve their goals more successfully.
As for the employees, a reduction in de-motivation allows them greater job satisfaction, and a happier, welcoming work-environment. De-motivation in the workplace is inarguably one of the most critical issues facing practitioners because unless it is eliminated using some of the methods outlined in this essay, organisations will never be able to reach their full potential and reach all of their goals and may consequently lose out to competition.