Definition and Importance of Motivation

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 5: Motivation

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4


Definition and Importance of Motivation

Employees make up an organization and if they do not have organizational commitment, then there is no incentive to excel at their jobs. Studies show that when ten professional employees of an organization leave, that organization loses roughly one million dollars. In addition to the financial loss, they also suffer the loss of knowledge and experience the individual(s) may have, which is one of the most valued employee assets. This cost could be avoided or lessened by motivating employees by keeping them involved and committed to the organization. Two important reasons that employees should be motivated are to achieve their own personal goals and the organizational goals.

Motivation has many different definitions, but it is important to focus on those that are related to the workplace. Understanding exactly what motivation is, will help managers decide what actions to take to encourage their employees. 

The definition of motivation starts with the root word, motive. ‘Motive’ is a Latin word which means ‘to move’. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines motive as, something that causes a person to act. Therefore, motivation can be defined as, the act of providing motive that causes someone to act.

Dalton E. McFarland – “Motivation refers to the way in which urges, drives, desires, aspirations, strivings or needs direct, control or explain the behaviour of human beings.”

Pinder, C.C. (2008) – Work motivation “is a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behaviour, and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration.”

Deckers, L. (2010) – “Motivation is a person’s internal disposition to be concerned with an approach positive incentives and avoid negative incentives. To further this, an incentive is the anticipated reward or aversive event available in the environment.”

Berelson and Steiner – “Motive is an inner state that energizes, activates, moves and direct behaviour towards goal.”

Dale S. Beach – “Motivation is defined as a willingness to expand energy to achieve a goal or a reward.”

Dubin – “Motivation is the complex of forces starting and keeping a person at work in organisation”.

Motivation is a driving force that propels people to action and continues them to action. It is the process of stimulating people to action to accomplish desired goal.

Motivation is a person’s internal disposition to be concerned with 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 behaviour, it varies greatly among individuals and must often be combined with ability and environmental factors to actually influence behaviour and performance. Because of motivation’s role in influencing workplace behaviour and performance, it is key for organizations to understand and to structure the work environment to encourage productive behaviours and discourage those that are unproductive. 

Characteristics of Motivation

  1. Motivation is an important factor for human behaviour because without motivation behaviour cannot take place.
  2. Motivation is a force that directs the behaviour of an individual to do any task or any action.
  3. Motivation is an urge or tension to move in a given direction and achieve a certain goal, because motivation gives strength and act as an energiser for an individual to accomplish his task.
  4. Motivation is an internal feeling which are not directly observable and are observed by the behaviour of an individual.
  5. Motivation is dynamic and situational
  6. Motivation is goal-oriented process
  7. Motivation is an unending process because desire never ends and a force to fulfil the need cannot stop.
  8. Motivation is a process starts with need and ends at goal

Need    —————>   Drive  —————–>  Goal  —————>   Attainment

Steps of development of Motivation

So there is a series of steps which is to be understood to understand the concept of motivation:

Fig.: Steps of motivation

Step 1

  • Every action or choice which we make, starts from a point called need.
  • Need is a lack or deficit or some necessity
  • Need may be psychological, physiological or social

Step 2

  • The condition of need leads to drive
  • Drive is a state or tension or arousal produced by a need

Step 3

  • And then we search for ways to reduce or eliminate them. Thus motivation becomes goal directed.

Step 4

  • The activity we perform may be rewarding or punishing i.e. it may satisfy our need or not satisfy our need.

Step 5

  • If the need is satisfied or goal is achieved, it may lead to drive reduction.

Step 6

  • If the goal is not achieved, we again reassess our need deficiencies 
  • Goal achieved/ not achieved is also referred to as incentive or reward/ punishment i.e. which leads towards goal achievement or away from it.

Objective of Motivation

  1. To create conditions in which people are willing to work with zeal, initiative, interest and enthusiasm, with high personal and group moral satisfaction, with a sense of responsibility, loyalty and discipline and with pride and confidence in a most cohesive manner so that the goals of an organization are achieved effectively.
  2. To fulfil our aim i.e. to motivate the employees by implementing some motivational techniques which will help in stimulating the employees growth. 

Importance of Motivation

It is through motivation that managers attempt to inspire the employees to work for the organization. Motivating the workforce of an organization to work more effectively towards the organization’s goals is perhaps the most fundamental task of management. Organizations motivate their workforce to perform effectively by offering them rewards for satisfactory performance and perhaps punishing them for unsatisfactory performance.

If the members of an organization are properly motivated, the following results may be expected:

  1. Motivated employees look better ways to do a job, it means they seed new ways to do a job.
  2. Motivation makes employees creative, spontaneous and innovative at work.
  3. Motivation helps in high performance.
  4. Motivation makes employees challenging
  5. Cooperation with the management and maximum contribution towards the goals of the enterprise. 
  6. More efficiency by improving upon their skills and knowledge. 
  7. Increased productivity.
  8. Better quality 
  9. Works wholeheartedly to apply their abilities and potential in minimising waste and cost. 
  10. Maximum use of physical and financial resources.
  11. Job satisfaction, loyalty, commitment, low rate of labour absenteeism and turnover.
  12. Less number of complaints and grievances
  13. Good human relations in the organisation 
  14. Employee try to maintain high quality standard of work
  15. Uses his creativity to devise a methodology and ways to simplify a job or to find a method to save time.

The role of motivation is to develop and intensify the desire in every member of the organisation to work effectively and efficiently in his position.

Some authors see motivation as being contained within the individual. Others view it arising from sources outside the individual. It is now evident that both the points of view cannot be considered independent of each other especially in the organizational context. Motivation in an organization encompasses forces both within and external to the individual member.

Factors effecting Motivation of Employees

Factors effecting motivation of employees

Individual behaviour at work depends on the following:

  1. Organization context: organization climate, culture, management style, relationship with co-workers.
  2. His own drives, attitudes, personality, personal circumstances, attributes etc.

So, motivation is a complex process because of varied needs, perception, goals. In organization, motivation is important to encourage person to give their best performance and to reach the enterprise goal.

So, task of management should be:

To arrange Organization conditions


Methods of operation


Should try to be aware of the needs (desires) of employees


Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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