Work motivation "is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual's being, to initiate work-related behavior, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration" Motivation is a person's internal disposition to be concerned with and approach positive incentives and avoid negative incentives. To further this, an incentive is the anticipated reward or aversive event available in the environment. While motivation can often be used as a tool to help predict behavior, it varies greatly among individuals and must often be combined with ability and environmental factors to actually influence behavior and performance. Because of motivation's role in influencing workplace behavior and performance, it is key for organizations to understand and to structure the work environment to encourage productive behaviors and discourage those that are unproductive. There is general consensus that motivation involves three psychological processes: arousal, direction, and intensity. Arousal is what initiates action. It is fueled by a person's need or desire for something that is missing from their lives at a given moment, either totally or partially. Direction refers to the path employees take in accomplishing the goals they set for themselves. Finally, intensity is the vigor and amount of energy employees put into this goal-directed work performance. The level of intensity is based on the importance and difficulty of the goal. These psychological processes result in four outcomes. First, motivation serves to direct attention, focusing on particular issues, people, tasks, etc. It also serves to stimulate an employee to put forth effort. Next, motivation results in persistence, preventing one from deviating from the goal-seeking behavior. Finally, motivation results in task strategies, which as are patterns of behavior produced to reach a particular goal."
A number of various theories attempt to describe employee motivation within the discipline. Most of these theories can be divided into the four broad categories of need-based, cognitive process, behavioral, and job-based. Need-based theories
Need-based theories of motivation focus on an employee's drive to satisfy a variety of needs through their work. These needs range from basic physiological needs for survival to higher psychoemotional needs like belonging and self-actualization.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
See also: Maslow's hierarchy of needs
An interpretation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom. Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1943) was applied to offer an explanation of how the work environment motivates employees. In accordance with Maslow's theory, which was not specifically developed to explain behavior in the workplace, employees strive to satisfy their needs in a hierarchical order. At the most basic level, an employee is motivated to work in order to satisfy basic physiological needs for survival, such as having enough money to purchase food. The next level of need in the hierarchy is safety, which could be interpreted to mean adequate housing or living in a safe neighborhood. The next three levels in Maslow's theory relate to intellectual and psycho-emotional needs: love and belonging, esteem (which refers to competence and mastery), and finally the highest order need, self-actualization. Although Maslow's theory is widely known, in the workplace it has proven to be a poor predictor of employee behavior. Maslow theorized that people will not seek to satisfy a higher level need until their lower level needs are met. There has been little empirical support for the idea that employees in the workplace strive to meet their needs only in the hierarchical order prescribed by Maslow. Building on Maslow's theory, Clayton Alderfer (1959) collapsed the levels in Maslow's...
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