The psychology behind motivation

People can find motivation and inspiration in lots of different ways. Whether your goal is to get fit or to consciously make more of an effort to spend time with a loved one, motivation is something all of us are aware of. Although, why is it that our motivation is rarely dedicated to our work life? At one point or another, everyone will have to settle into a rhythm of getting up and going to work. When our jobs take up so much of our life, why is it that we consciously motivate ourselves to improve our health and social life, but not our performances at work?

Work is sometimes referred to as a chore, and is something that just ‘pays the bills’. This negative and lazy attitude is what usually causes levels of productivity to drop. From a manager or directors point of view, workers need to be kept stimulated in order for them to succeed.

Bernstein’s incentive theory offers an insight into one aspect of motivation. The premise of this research concludes that people are stimulated by outside incentives and rewards. In a business perspective, workers need something to work towards. Managers need to offer some form of incentive if they want to get the best out of their employees.

Research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that many businesses are using rewards to get the best out of their employees. The research found that 71 per cent of companies that were surveyed operated some form of cash bonus, and 41 per cent had introduced a self recognition scheme to reward good work, such employee of the month , etc.

One of the most basic forms of motivation appears to be one of the most effective. However, smaller businesses do not necessarily have the resources to offer money as an incentive.

The arousal theory of motivation is more suitable for the smaller business or startup. The general idea behind this theory is that increased psychological arousal and stimulation will correlate to an improved level of performance. Put into context, this means that an employee who is doing the same jobs, day in day out, would have a lower level of psychological arousal, making that worker more likely to become complacent and make mistakes. If a manager was to give this employee more challenging tasks or an increased workload, then this would raise the workers arousal, making them more motivated to succeed and do well.

Although, this theory depends on the individual and levels of arousal can fluctuate, and employees will still be motivated by rewards and incentives.

Masses of evidence suggests that workers need to remain engaged with their job in order to succeed and remain productive. Owners and managers of companies can no longer just expect their employees to be motivated all the time, free of charge.

Theories aside, a workforce will be more willing to work for a manager or an owner if they can see they are trying to improve their working conditions. It’s a win-win for everybody. A happy office makes for a happy boss.

Charlie Atkinson