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Employee Motivation In American Business

Updated on July 9, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is a successful Employment & Training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

Some careers are more interesting to some workers than others.
Some careers are more interesting to some workers than others. | Source

Education and Employee Motivation Strategies

Pay rate is not equally important in all situations to all workers. The rate of pay may not be the most important thing to employees at all. Even when offering lower wages, the type and level of benefits offered to workers may also create the motivation and loyalty the company needs.

While most people need to work, money is not always the main motivator when deciding to work for a company. Engaging employees is important to all workers, but crucial for the highly- talented with leadership potential who might go elsewhere.

I can live for two months on a good compliment.

— Mark Twain

Payment Other Than Money

Besides fair compensation, many additional benefits exist that have shown value in retaining employees. These benefits often include flextime, compensatory time off, family leave, on-site day care, clinics, on site gyms, food service, on-site banking, and other on-site services that include oil changes for employee vehicles, concierge services, and others.

As another benefit the use of employer sponsored sabbaticals helps fights burnout and to reduce employee turnover. Further, the adoption of sabbaticals can have positive effects on business organizations in reducing the use of sick leave and increasing overall productivity and postie attitude.


Ideas That Work Effectively

Effective suggestions for improving engagement come from respected sources such as the following:

"10 Ways to Engage Your Employees, by Dr. Charles Woodruffe © 2005;2006

  1. Get a public statement of commitment from the Chief Executive and the Board on the importance of retaining talent by developing good people management practices.
  2. Ensure that all line managers take on this culture of talent retention. Ensure they understand that this is a core part of the organization's business strategy to win in its marketplace.
  3. Treat every member of your staff as an individual. Find out his or her needs at work, and give careful thought to meeting them.
  4. Ensure your managers are supported and coached in their people management skills.
  5. Carry out regular employee satisfaction audits.
  6. Take scrupulous care to ensure that you hire talented people to whom you can offer a commitment.
  7. Don't destroy the trust of your employees with a 'hire and fire' mentality.
  8. Be absolutely sure to develop your people so that their worth to you increases.
  9. Challenge any reasons your organization has for not being flexible and responsive to people's needs.
  10. Carefully identify your core talent so that you invest scarce resources on developing these people."

References for Quotation:

  • Woodruffe, C. (2005; 2006). Employee Engagement: The real secret of winning a crucial edge over your rivals. Management First, Sept/Oct 2005; ReSource Magazine Edition 10 - November 2006.


Job Design Motivators

Jobs can be designed and arranged to motivate employees to stay with a company and do an increasingly good job. Some examples are:

Job Rotation

...allows employees to move through a variety of jobs, departments, or tasks, providing fresh experiences and a knowledge and understanding of how various departments and jobs work together to produce the desired outcomes of increased product quality and sales. This stops job burnout (work exhaustion) caused by work overload, lack of autonomy (independence), and lack of rewards. Three consequences of burnout are: reduced job satisfaction, reduced organizational commitment, and higher employee turnover.

Job Enlargement

...expands an employee's responsibilities to create new challenges for growth and self-esteem. Productive employees often create their own new responsibilities, making themselves more valuable to their employer. Jobs that require the use of multiple talents are more meaningful, and motivating than jobs that require only one skill. Task overloaded must be avoided, however.

Job Enrichment

...makes jobs more desirable. This may use task addition or training to instill in the worker the job's importance. Work is more meaningful if employees understand how their jobs fit in with those of other employees and company goals.

Job design is important to employee motivation for success.
Job design is important to employee motivation for success. | Source

Incentives and Professional Development

Incentives Matter

The nature of individual corporate culture is the key to productive incentive development, while the utilization of work teams is one of the fasting rising concepts used in the 21st century workplace. Administrations should take a holistic view of business in team engagement and link individual assessment of team members/employees directly to business drivers and recognize stars with desirable incentives. Management must effectively assess employees and teams for needs and motivators to make this happen.

A large 2002 study found that employee motivation regarding

  • liking the awards offered,
  • the willingness to encourage others, and
  • willingness to work hard

for the awards, was the most important factor in employee satisfaction overall.

Successful incentive programs have included team dinners at upscale dining establishments, upscale appliances, high-demand vacations, cash, entertainment tickets, etc.

Learning Opportunities

Learning opportunities on the job begin with an orientation and initial training, followed with regular feedback in the form of daily information shared between worker and supervisor; and regular performance reviews.

Additional training can be offered, required and/or requested to achieve continuous One of the best known such systems is the apprentice program in the trade industries, which offer long term training, a living wage, and union benefits as well as certification.

In-house educational courses or reimbursement for attending off site classes is successful. In addition, many companies offer paid attendance at conferences, trade shows, and seminars. Some of these events include adventure education and corporate team building exercises in a recreational setting.

Management must assess the needs of the group to choose the best venue.


Employees want more responsibility.

Autonomy is the most consistent and strongest determinant of positive work attitudes. Micro-managing kills this important asset.

Employee/management interaction and closeness can be a strong morale booster in addition to employee responsibility ownership. Employee morale in increased by good teamwork that recognized all team members and is smooth running.


Employees want more self-expression.

Increased worker autonomy results in increased self-expression at work. Disgruntled or disenfranchised workers likely can be regained with a greater sense of autonomy offered by management. .

Employees want to to make decisions for the good of the company.

Supervisors, managers and executives enjoy the greatest number of decision-making opportunities, but it is likely that employees want to have a voice in their organizations and should be offered such opportunities

Employees want challenge and personal meaning.

To experience meaning, an employee needs to feel personal responsibility for their work outcomes. They want to see their works as substantially effecting the success of the company. Workers must have the knowledge of how effective their job performance is. All this is enhanced by skill variety (multi-talented), task identity (visible results), and task significance (importance in the company).

Applying any and all of the suggestions found effective in America and presented in this article will doubless improve employee satisfaction and productivity, while reducing worker turnover. Employers can use them and employees can ask for them.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


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    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      Empowerment builds self-trust and self-esteem in an employee, who is motivated to work harder, that eventually ends in his good performance and better work outputs. Some employees who belong to the lowest in the rank-and-file often turn out with valuable ideas if given autonomy. Smooth employer-employee relationship is an asset to the company itself. Great hub!

    • mquee profile image


      10 years ago from Columbia, SC

      This is a very good article and these things work. The company I work for now, at one time implemented all of these things making it a great place to work. The other side is changing management. Managers often come with their own beliefs and agenda and over time the subtle changes create a totally new work atmosphere. In my case after 26 years the work environment has gone down hill.

      All this just to say that management and employees have to stay on top of these things in order to keep a good working environment. This is a very good, no nonsense approach outlined in this article. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I think giving employees the room to grow, by letting current employees move into positions with more responsibility instead of hiring management positions from the outside is one good way to let them know that you value their commitment and time spent with your company.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Are you examining employee commitment also by age cohort? I think that might be a significant variable.

    • misterpm profile image


      12 years ago from Netherlands

      Great article! I really like it and it is really helpful for my project. I am investigating employee commitment now and try to get as much info as possible. I wrote some employee and team articles myself and this input provides me with some more high level information. thanks!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for the nice comments. Work should not be punishment, but it often is. We can fix that. :)

    • sminut13 profile image


      12 years ago from singapore

      great hub. i especially liked the part where you mentioned what the employee wants which i feel are true. in my opinion in any case. thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      12 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thank you, Ralph, especially for the link. Deming and Whyte works are really good; I have not read Alfie Kohn, but now I can!

      I just found his homepage as well and will read his entire site:

      "Punished by Rewards" looks especially good:

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 

      12 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Very good material. The best research indicates that group or team incentives are a better motivator than individual incentives. W. Edwards Deming who many credit with a big contribution to the success of Toyota and other Japanese auto companies emphasized TEAMWORK TO IMPROVE THE PROCESS rather than individual financial or other incentives. William F. Whyte's "Money and Motivation" explains why piece rate or other individual incentive systems don't work because norms developed in every work group defeat them. Industrial psychologists and organizational behavior researchers all say that money is only one of several motivators in the workplace, and often not the most important one. More recently, Alfie Kohn has explained why merit pay may not be all it's cracked up to be.:


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