What Motivates Employees According to Over 40 Years of Motivation Survey?

Article Review: What Motivates Employees According to Over 40 Years of Motivation Survey?

Motivation is an important element in the workplace today as employers have realized that motivated employees are often more productive. As such, various scholars have come forth to study on motivation and motivational factors in the business environment.  In her study published in the International Journal of Manpower in 1997, Carolyn Wiley’s research sought to understand the key factors that enhance motivation among employees. Her research is grounded on earlier surveys dating as early as in the 1930s whereby questionnaires were administered directly to the employees to determine what motivates them to work. Survey questionnaires have been used in the past because they are a direct way of unraveling what workers perceive as motivational factors concerning their jobs.

Wiley identified three key things that determine employee performance; motivation, ability, and work environment. In the case of ability, a worker can be trained appropriately so that he or she can have the required competence or ability. When the work environment is the determining factor, the environment can be altered so that it can fit the worker’s preferences so as to enhance performance. However, it is a bit tricky when it comes to motivation because it is not easy to identify exactly what the employee would need in order to be motivated and improve performance. Therefore, the source of finding out what is the motivational factor is to ask the employee personally. Over four decades (40 years), researchers have employed surveys to address the issue of motivation.

The first survey was conducted in 1946 by the Labor Relations Institute, New York, where various industrial workers participated while other surveys were used in 1980 and 1986 to 1987. The last survey study was conducted in 1992, and it is the one reported in Wiley’s work of 1997. In the study of 1946, most participants ranked appreciation as the greatest job reward factor that motivated them whereas they ranked discipline the least in their work morale. The 1980 ad 1986 studies saw most workers rank interesting work as the key motivation factor though the least factors were different; discipline and personal problems in 1980 and 1986 respectively.

The most recent in 1992 saw workers rank well-paying or good wages as the main motivating factor in the workplace while personal problems were ranked last. All the studies since 1946 included several subgroups in their survey including age and income from various sectors including manufacturing, retail, and insurance.  Wiley acknowledges that motivation factors have been changing since the mid-20th century due to the changes in the working environments over the past years. For instance, economies have changed and are characterized by increased living standards. Also, workers’ values have changed over time hence different priorities in the workplace. Wiley concludes her research that motivation is the chief problem facing business organizations currently. As such, employers or managers need to identify the needs of workers so that can feel motivated thus improving their performance.

Since motivation is a universal factor that impacts performance in business organizations, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is affected, as well. I find this article helpful because it sheds light on an element that affects organizations in Saudi Arabia, and me personally as a Saudi worker. I work with King Fahad Hospital as finance specialist whereby the love for my job and good working environment are my key motivating factors. The management at King Fahad Hospital could benefit more by realizing motivation factors of my fellow employees and improving them.