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Organizational motivation and its effects

The central role occupied by Human Resources in the organizational field and the function performed by motivation for the achievement of high personal and, therefore, corporate performance is now widely recognized. The article, starting from a brief analysis of the literature, analyzes and defines the multifactorial phenomenon of organizational Motivation, identifying the different variables on which companies should act to achieve its development and maintenance over time. In particular, enhancing human resources will be addressed through the implementation of a management policy aimed at actively listening to needs and desires and developing skills and competencies. In fact, staff who feel they are listened to in their individual and work needs

I. What is motivation?

It is the "set of psychological processes that provoke the birth, direction, and persistence of voluntary actions directed towards a goal" or performance. Therefore, it can be defined as energy invested by individuals in the realization of work performance and in belonging to the organization that makes the individual continue to engage constantly in their work, producing several positive effects both for himself and for the whole organization.


Given the importance of the phenomenon in the organizational sphere, from the 1950s to the present day, various theories have been developed which aim to explain its functioning and the effects on the person's behavior.

The two main interpretative models can be outlined:

1. Content theories, focus on the content of motivation, identifying in the concept of need the basic element that pushes people to continue in their actions, necessary for their survival and well-being. Among these, it is possible to distinguish various orientations, such as Maslow's Theory of needs (1954), according to which the person's behavior tends to satisfy needs ordered along a hierarchical scale (Physiological, Safety, Affection, Estimate and Self-Realization Needs). In particular, the individual tends to satisfy lower-level needs first and, subsequently, higher-order needs. McClelland (1985) proposes, as active in every person, the needs of the power, affiliation, success, and competence. These needs do not activate hierarchically but can coexist with each other in a situation of equilibrium or prevail over each other based on the different situations. The motivating- hygienic theory (1959-1966), developed by Herzberg, distinguishes between hygiene Factors (work procedures, supervision methods.

2. The Theory of Process explains the psychological processes that underlie the behaviors and that underlie the motivation.

Among these, it is possible to identify, for example, Vroom's Theory of expectations (1964), according to which the strength of motivation depends on the multiplicative relationship between the factors of Valence (attractiveness of the reward). Expectation (how much the individual considers likely that their actions allow reaching a goal) and Instrumentality (the possibility that achieving the goal allows getting the reward). On the other hand, Adams (1965) indicates the main variable that acts in the regulation of the motivational process the equity perceived by the person both internally, in the comparison between the result obtained and the contribution made, and externally, in comparison with colleagues and superiors. When individuals perceive negative inequities, they are activated to reduce this perception by decreasing commitment, asking for an increase or abandoning the work environment, in the case of positive iniquities instead, they can feel motivated to work more, give up rewards or encourage colleagues to commit themselves. The goal-setting theory (Locke, 1975; Locke and Latham, 1990) argues that motivating behaviors can be influenced by the person's goals; this direct attention and the search for information through the regulation of concentration and effort, facilitating the development of strategies and encouraging the persistence of actions.

Finally, other authors have hypothesized the action of personality characteristics on work motivation. For example, Schultz theorizes the influence of the Locus of Control and the attribution methods typical of each person. The short overview presented shows how different interpretative models considered individually fail to grasp the phenomenon of "motivation" in its complexity, it is, in fact, a multifactorial construct that changes in the same person based on the time, state and context in which it is found, also differentiating between different people and cultures.

However, each model is useful because it helps to identify some of the elements on which it is possible to act to maintain a high level of satisfaction and commitment as if they were many pieces of a puzzle all equally necessary to obtain the final configuration. For example, through his theory, Maslow highlighted the importance of subjective needs that act on the person with different degrees of intensity based on the situation and the moment, also considering the primary needs as basic needs that need immediate satisfaction. To be able to orientate towards the higher ones, Herzberg points out how work itself, in its various facets, has an influence on the motivation of individuals with the consequent need to abandon standardized solutions and make work environments sensitive and plastic towards the different expectations of its collaborators. He also claims that there are primary needs that must be met to avoid situations of dissatisfaction and secondary needs on which to act to increase the motivation of their collaborators.

Finally, Vroom, Adams, and Locke underlined the role of subjective assessments of people with respect to their abilities and fairness/unfairness of the working environment as well as having laid the foundations for a management model by objectives.


The theories developed to date have indicated how motivation depends on people's individual characteristics (needs, locus of control, sense of self-efficacy, self-esteem, personality, etc. ). But it also and above all on the actual working conditions in which they find themselves operating and which consequently can favor, or on the contrary inhibit, the motivational drive in the person. It is necessary to design working environments that optimize, through effective management of Human Resources, the development, and well-being of its collaborators, always taking into account the differences (between them and in organizational situations), which therefore necessarily require the creation of ad hoc solutions for each specific reality.

It is essential to be able to count on participatory leadership focused on listening directly to collaborators and creating an organizational climate that favors their personal and technical growth and the structuring of the working environment to favor the physical and psychological well-being of the people who they operate there.

The following paragraphs will analyze the various interacting variables on which it is necessary to act to obtain an organizational condition that is as positive and supportive as possible.

Putting the person at the center

Human resources are a fundamental and constitutive part of organizations. In fact, they are the ones that, with their own activity and competence, affect the progress and, consequently, the companies' progress/regression. Therefore, it is necessary to give them attention and the right value, placing them at the center of their management policies so that they can develop a sense of belonging, experiencing satisfaction, and increased motivation.

As indicated by Bontempi (2014), the employees we work with are first and foremost people, their emotions and feelings are important, and the company relationships must rest on a feeling of trust; obtainable through communication and active listening to the needs/desires of its collaborators as well as advice and evaluations concerning the content of the work.

It is important to encourage growth conditions for staff, both through the implementation of technical training courses, for the expansion/updating of the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out their work, and through courses and activities focused on the inner development of the Person and his creativity (e.g., Coaching, Mentoring, Empowerment, courses aimed at acquiring/improving personal skills, etc.).

In the relationship between private and working life, practices defined as "family-friendly" can be favored. The company tries to reconcile the personal and family needs of its staff with those of the company by resorting, for example, to flexible, part-time working hours. Another important aspect is the constant dissemination and circulation of both technical and purely organizational information, thereby making people aware of the organization's internal policies and the current situation of the company, thus promoting the sharing of information/skills.

The active role of Leadership

This paragraph connects directly to the previous one since the enhancement, and active listening of employees are fundamental functions of the Personnel Manager who must act as a supportive Leader, promoting a real condition of growth and empowerment of his Human Resources. It is the Management, in fact, that must be able to create positive and motivating conditions for its collaborators by implementing, for this purpose, transparent and proactive management policies and committing themselves to set a good example every day, basing their behavior on the Principle of Integrity.

McGregor (1960) himself, in the elaboration of Theory Y, conceptualizes the importance of implementing management that is not aimed at control but to develop its employees' potential by resorting to the use of delegation and positive acknowledgments. To this end, it is important to encourage the assumption of responsibility and autonomy, showing confidence in their employees' abilities and to organize the work in a balanced way through what Locke and Latham (1975; 1990) have indicated as "Goal Setting.” This term postulates a type of management based on the statement of objectives that must have precise characteristics or must be specific, challenging, and defined according to measurable criteria.

Another strategic aspect consists of identifying objectives in a shared way with the collaborators themselves through direct comparison, making them feel an integral part of the solution to be reached, for the purpose of development and growth not only personal but also of the organization itself. Finally, the Leader must take on the role of "Coach" towards his collaborators, that is, he must be able to influence them by infusing them with enthusiasm and energy use for achieving set objectives. Therefore he must be motivating himself.

Staff evaluation as feedback for improvement

The assessment of human resources must be implemented not in the sense of control and judgment but as a tool for enhancing resources by promoting learning and personal growth. Borgongni and Miraglia (2014) speak in this regard of "Performance Management," indicating, with this term, "a constant process of identification, measurement, and development of individual performance carried out through an on-going evaluation process, throughout the whole year. Work, providing ongoing feedback encourages awareness of your level of preparation and allows you to consolidate and perfect this level by implementing the appropriate actions and drawing lessons also from errors. The authors also claim that, in order to avoid/reduce the subjective errors inherent in the evaluation process.

Development of Organizational Wellness

Organizational well-being means "the ability of the organization to promote and preserve the physical, psychological and social well-being of workers in all types of employment" (Avallone and Bonaretti 2003), therefore, for the purpose of creating well-being, health, and safety for people. It is important, in addition to what is described in the previous paragraphs, to also implement a real structuring of the physical work environment. It defines the spaces dedicated to individual collaborators (monitor position, ergonomic sessions, correct exposure to sunlight and artificial light, thermal well-being, presence of noise, as well as specific for meetings, teamwork, and breaks. Also, in the structuring of the environment, it is advisable to promote employee participation.

Remuneration policies based on merit and achievement of objectives

The remuneration, as indicated above, is part of those factors that Herzberg has defined as "hygiene," that is, factors that allow satisfying the primary needs that are linked to a situation of necessity. It is clear that it is not so much the presence of remuneration that has effects on the increase in motivation in people but rather its absence to provoke situations of dissatisfaction and abandonment. However, this factor can become motivating if, in addition to the basic remuneration which must be congruent with the role and responsibilities of the person, there is a part of remuneration linked to the merit and objectives achieved. In this sense, it represents a form of valorization of personnel that shows a greater commitment in carrying out their duties and a means of retaining talents. Giorgi and Majer instead indicate how remuneration can be a strong motivating factor among workers in the poorest areas of the world (Kovach, 1987) or in countries impoverished by economic and cultural changes (Zinovieva, 1994) where intrinsic motivations are affected by the crisis, and extrinsic logics prevail.


In summary, it can be seen that motivation plays an extremely crucial role in organizations since it has a direct effect on employee behavior and performance. It also involves a decrease in turnover and an increase in organizational citizenship behaviors, affecting the performance of the individual but above all of the entire organization. It is an aspect of considerable interest given the current economic moment in which many organizations, performance, and achievement of positive results are on the agenda as elements of primary necessity for the survival of the organization itself. Consequently, it is necessary to activate all the necessary measures in order to encourage the development and maintenance of high levels of motivation in its collaborators.

Have you any questions? Let us know in the comment box. And for business essayOrganizational motivation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Author: Vicki Lezama

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