Employee Motivation Theory

Cite this article as:"Employee Motivation Theory," in The Business Professor, updated April 9, 2020, last accessed October 29, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/employee-motivation-theory/.


What is Employee Motivation?


Motivation is any tangible or intangible force that causes another person to want or feel the need to pursue an activity. A motivated individual is inspired to pursue a course of action.

Three commonly recognized elements of motivation include:

  • Energy
  • Direction
  • Persistence

Collectively motivation, ability, and environment are the major influences over employee performance.

Motivation is broken down into Needs-Based Theories and Process-Based Theories.

Needs-Based Theories – Needs-based theories concern how individuals are motivated to take actions that meet their internal needs. Some of the dominant needs-based theories are:

Process-Based Theories – Process-based theories focus on the mental processes of individuals to understand their motivations.

Issues in Motivation

Despite the advances in motivation study, there are numerous difficulties associated with applying theories based on numerous barriers:

  • Geographical borders
  • Motivating Unique Groups
  • Diverse Workforces (Professionals, Contingent Workers, Low-Skilled Minimum Wage Employees)

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