A question often asked by first-line supervisors and managers is “How do we motivate our employees?” Effectively motivating employees to achieve a desired outcome is one of the most important functions as a supervisor or manager. There is evidence to show organizations are facing challenges retaining employees due to limited opportunities for advancement and the current competitive labor market. It does not appear things will get any better in the future. The loss of employees represents a loss of skills, knowledge, and experiences and can create a significant economic impact and cost to corporations as well as impacting the needs of customers. Managers who can motivate employees assist the organization by improving employee retention and reinforcing positive behaviors (Ramlall, 2004).
What is motivation? The word motivation originates from the Latin word “to move” and is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as an “act or process of a motivating force, stimulus, or influence.” Motivation is known to be a predictive variable which influences employee job satisfaction (Pool, 1997).
The subject of motivation is a well-researched topic and many motivational theories have been written over the years. One in particular developed by Victor Vroom in 1964 still has application in today’s business environment (Quick 1988). His expectancy theory on motivation is a mathematical model based on three factors: expectancy, instrumentality, and valence. . All must work together to be highly successful, and all three together can have a powerful affect. The formula is Motivation = Expectancy * Instrumentality * Valence as illustrated in Figure 1.
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