Motivation Improving Employee Performance


Motivation is a complex subject and probably one of the most difficult parts of organizational behavior. If an employee lacks skills, he or she can be trained, if working conditions are not sufficient, those can be improved, but motivation is an indicator that is extremely hard to control or change. However, it has to be addressed in order to promote employees’ involvement and improve the performance of an organization as such.

The Essential Topics of the Outline

Three topics of an outline, which I consider the most critical to comprehend, are the subtle but essential difference between the concepts of job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement, the healthy balance between the use of intrinsic and extrinsic types of motivation, and factors that employees’ job satisfaction depends on.

The Difference between Job Satisfaction, Motivation, and Engagement

Let us start by defining these three concepts. Job satisfaction is the level of employees’ content with their overall job or certain aspects of it (Dewett, 2015). Motivation, in its turn, is a broader term. It includes all factors that determine the “direction, level, and persistence” of people’s efforts put in work (Schermerhorn, Osborn, Uhl-Bien, & Hunt, 2011, p. 102). Evidently, one of these forces is job satisfaction.

Engagement can be defined as employees’ commitment and motivation to do their work (Dewett, 2015). Hence, to increase engagement, leaders should not only commit their employees to work but also address motivation, which, in turn, highly depends on job satisfaction.

The Healthy Balance between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Considering all discussed above, it seems that job satisfaction plays a crucial role when it comes to the level of employees’ involvement and performance. Indeed, it does. However, that is critical to realize that job satisfaction is not the only factor, which makes a difference. Dewett (2015) explains that in his video very well. He states that job satisfaction and motivation or engagement are not synonymous, and job satisfaction itself does not guarantee a high level of performance.

For example, if an employer has low requirements, workers may be satisfied with their work because they do not have so much to do and do not get very tired during the working week. However, since they are never pushed to do more, they do not feel engaged and are not motivated to do their best.

That leads us to the topic of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the healthy balance between two. While internal factors that drive employees to work (including job satisfaction) are essential, external ones can not be ignored as well. As Kapp (2015) states, a primary factor that defines extrinsic motivation is a desire to get the reward or avoid punishment. Hence, employees should be aware of what they can get if a job is well done and what they can lose if not.

It should be mentioned that extrinsic motivation itself is not enough either. If employees work only for a reward, they will not be motivated to do their job if a reward is not good enough. In his dual-structure model, Frederick Herzberg delves into this topic and explains how both internal and external motivational factors should be addressed by leaders (Griffin & Moorhead, 2013, p. 97).

Factors that Job Satisfaction Depends on

Considering that job satisfaction is probably the most important part of the intrinsic type of motivation, leaders should mainly focus on it. In her book, Mullins (2007) identifies five core factors that job satisfaction depends on. Firstly, that is a set of exciting and challenging tasks that make an employee use and develop his or her skills and talents (Mullins, 2007, p. 281). When work is routine and monotonous, people quickly lose interest in it, and motivation decreases. Two next important factors are task identity and task significance (Mullins, 2007, p. 281).

They determine the meaningfulness of job activities. The fourth relevant factor is autonomy, which is about freedom and independence that workers are given with or deprived of (Mullins, 2007, p. 281). For example, employees highly appreciate the opportunity to innovate and the flexibility of work. Finally, feedback makes a difference (Mullins, 2007, p. 281). Every worker wants to see the results of his or her work and be valued. With this in mind, the author presents an equation that calculates the motivating potential score as the arithmetical mean of the first three factors (skill variety, task variety, and task significance) multiplied by autonomy and feedback (Mullins, 2007, p. 281).

A Potential Course of Implementation

Considering everything discussed above, the first thing that the CEO of an organization should do is evaluate the firm’s policies critically. To start with, extrinsic factors that motivate or demotivate employees should be addressed: salaries, bonuses, promotions, dismissals, etc. Are the conditions of those fair and reasonable? If not, something should be done about it. Then, factors that determine intrinsic motivation should be evaluated in accordance with Mullins’s (2007) approach.

However, that is not enough. In addition to implementing changes that are considered to be motivating in general, the CEO should determine and address the needs of his own employees. Since people are different, each one of them has his or her own vision of what is motivating. To find out what employees want out of work, the CEO should ask managers to distribute questionnaires among workers or gather meetings to collect information about their needs. Then the information gathered should be analyzed, and the most urgent needs that the analysis reveals should be addressed.


Dewett, T. (2015). Understanding what motivates and engages employees. Web.

Griffin, R., & Moorhead, G. (2013). Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations (11th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Kapp, K. (2015). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Web.

Mullins, L. J. (2007). Management and Organisational Behaviour (8th ed.). Essex, England: Pearson Education.

Schermerhorn, J. R., Osborn, R. N., Uhl-Bien, M., & Hunt, J. G. (2011). Organizational Behavior (12th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.