Motivation from a psychological perspective has various definitions, many of which directly relate to the way a business or a manager may look to employ it. Motivation is generally what energizes, maintains, and controls behavior; it acts as a stimulus for desirable actions. Motivation results in goal-directed behavior that employs foresight as to the way in which that energy is being used, underlining that the energy input will act as an investment toward a preferable outcome. The importance of this from a professional standpoint is enormous, as much of what employees do is specifically delegated to capture present or future value for their company.
The importance of motivation in the workplace is straightforward theoretically, but difficult to measure empirically. Ascertaining the level in which high motivation results in higher productivity is difficult to pinpoint, as an individual’s drive is difficult to measure through metrics. However, it is widely accepted that motivated employees generate higher value and more substantial levels of achievement. The management of motivation is therefore a critical element of success in any business, allowing the input of human resources to be maximized in regard to fulfilling the potential output expected.
Salary is often enough to keep employees working for an organization, but not necessarily enough to capitalize on their full potential. Herzberg’s theory (discussed in the first organizational behavior atom) emphasizes that, while salary is enough to avoid dissatisfaction, it is not necessarily enough to propel employees to increase their levels of achievement. Understanding the internal and external motivations, and moving beyond the "needs" section, is where this value can be attained (Figure 1). Furthermore, employees that are not motivated beyond the incentive of salary and benefits tend to decline in output over time. This fact lends strength to the argument that motivated employees are a critical aspect of a successful team or company.
Evidence implies that motivated employees will provide the following benefits:
- Motivated employees always look for better ways to do a job.
- Motivated employees are quality oriented.
- Motivated workers are more productive and efficient.
In summary, motivated employees will retain a high level of innovation while producing higher quality work at a higher level of efficiency. While these benefits are broad, and therefore relatively vague, it also puts forth the argument that motivated employees have no downsides or costs. The opportunity cost in motivating employees is essentially zero, assuming it does not require additional capital to coach managers to act as effective motivators.