What is work motivation

Work motivation

In the context of management strategies but also in the endeavor to humanize the world of work, consideration must be given to what incentives must be given so that motivation in the work area can be activated and also stabilized. The focus is on the analysis of the Causes of human work behaviorThat is why individuals work at all, why they work a lot or little, better or worse under certain conditions. The motive is the motive for the behavior, although it is usually so complex that it is difficult to find just one motive as the reason for a behavior, so that one always has to deal with a bundle of motives as the cause for behavior. But it's not just the motivation that interests you, but the question of motivation, so how can people be activated for work?
What is decisive for work motivation is first of all the optimal fit between the motives of the employed person and the motivational potential of the job. The use of motivational psychological techniques can increase the chances of productivity and satisfaction. The focus is on three different driving factors: Achievement motive, social connection motive, power motive / avoidance of outside influence. But that is also important Curiosity motive, which for a long time went unnoticed in connection with work motivation, but belongs to the basic repertoire of human motives, since it serves to acquire mental structures or memory, which is necessary for successful action. Especially with changes in the work area, curiosity as an important determinant of work motivation is at the center of interest, because the curiosity motive stimulates people to reduce uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity in new situations through questions and research. Typical behaviors are the hope for new challenges and the associated courage to change. The ideal match between motivation and work is achieved when a person can pursue his or her self-development: Self-fulfillment in realizing one's own possibilities and abilities means not only higher productivity, but also greater biological efficiency, longer life, fewer illnesses, better sleep , Serenity, inner wealth.

Cultural differences in work motivation

Incidentally, professional incentive systems can have different or even contradicting effects in different cultures, which a comparison between Chinese and German employees showed: While a critical assessment of work performance in China leads to demotivation and a decline in productivity, in Germany it tends to lead to an increase in performance. This is explained by the fact that the pursuit of harmony is one of the central cultural standards in China and is firmly anchored in society in the perception, behavior, mindset and values ​​of the individual. The top priority is not to develop one's own personality, but to overcome individuality in order to maintain harmony within the group. The dignity of an individual in China is only achieved through the recognition of others and acceptance in society. The “face” in China is defined as personal standing in society. so that a Chinese feels personally attacked by open criticism and loses face in society. Therefore, the Chinese often prefer “indirect formulations in order to save face and that of others. There is so much leeway to interpret Chinese language that a yes can mean a no under certain circumstances. Critical excuses often use excuses that have nothing to do with the actual facts.

Experienced work progress is the most motivating factor

Unsurprisingly, scientists consistently confirm that progress in the work process motivates workers more than any other work event. Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer (2007) recorded in a three-year long-term study the everyday actions, feelings and levels of motivation of 238 employees from 26 project groups in various professions. During the entire investigation phase, the test subjects had to report their main activities for each working day and answer questions about the work environment, personal state of mind, work motivation and teamwork, and describe the most formative daily experience. An analysis of the daily reports showed that personal work progress was associated with positive emotions and a high level of motivation far more often than any other work event, because 76% of the working days that were perceived to be the best were attributed to work progress.
Superiors however, they sometimes have a completely different understanding of motivation, because recognition is the undisputed number one motivator for managers. Financial incentives, personal support, progress at work and clear goals were only mentioned afterwards. To motivate your employees aver, they should facilitate progress in their work, support the employees and set meaningful goals. Because just as work progress has a positive influence on motivation, nothing is more demotivating for employees than a step backwards - also the most frequently cited reason for a bad working day in the studies. This research result clearly shows the difference in the effectiveness of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

The more meaningful a task, the higher the work engagement

According to studies, the affective-motivational state of work engagement also depends heavily on the cognitive evaluation of the activity carried out, so that meaningfulness in work and work engagement are ultimately only the other side of a single coin. Interestingly, that is Importance of one job for anothere the strongest predictor of meaningfulness and work commitment, while autonomy has a much weaker relationship. These research findings follow on from research that shows that generativity - i.e. doing and creating things with lasting value - is repeatedly identified as the strongest predictor of general fulfillment of meaning. Therefore, the meaningful potential of voluntary volunteer work is very high and can be attributed to the importance that is ascribed to the effects of one's own work on other people.

Work motivation factors

According to Kleinbeck & Kleinbeck (2009), work motivation is influenced by different factors, whereby there are five core dimensions for motivating work in groups or at individual workplaces:

  • Diversity of requirements. Monotonous activity cannot motivate anyone, on the other hand, too great a variety can overwhelm. Therefore, the level of diversity should be found that corresponds to the individual profile of the employee
  • completeness. The person or group needs the experience to fully realize a product or service
  • importance. It is necessary to be aware that you are important with your own work - for the company, for customers, for society and thus also for yourself
  • autonomy. The employee needs room for maneuver in which he can develop his individual possibilities and stabilize his self-confidence. The dosage of the room for maneuver must vary depending on the personality in order to avoid under- and excessive demands
  • feedback. It is helpful when superiors comment on the results of the work and discuss objectives. However, it is even more effective if employees can see the connection between their performance and the result as objectively as possible.

Amabile, Teresa & Cramer, Steven (2007). Inner work life. Understanding the Subtext of Business Performance. Harvard Business Review, 85, 72-83.
Bierhoff, Hans-Werner, Lemiech, Karolina & Rohmann, Elke (2012). Personal responsibility, self-efficacy and voluntary work commitment. Business Psychology, 14, 83-90.
Jiranek, P., Neufeind, M. & Wehner, Th. (Eds.) (2012). Voluntary work engagement in organization and society. Business Psychology, 14.
Kleinbeck, U. & Kleinbeck, T. (2009). Work motivation - concepts and support measures. Lengerich Berlin Vienna: Pabst.
Liu-Kiel, M., Schenk-Mathes, H.Y. & Yang, X.L. (2011). Other countries other manners? - An experimental study in Germany and China. In G. Raab, A. Unger (ed.), The human being in the center of economic action. Lengerich / Berlin: Pabst.

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