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Sample Essay on Motivating Employees

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If you are writing an essay on motivating employees for your psychology class, you came to the right place. The following essay examines how to motivate them across different organizational contexts. Various third party scholars are cited using academic and peer reviewed journals. This sample is provided free of charge by Ultius, the trusted provider of content solutions for consumers around the world.

Motivating Employees: Organizational Justice, Workforce Unity and Employee Development

In any workplace, employees are no doubt the fundamental backbone that holds any workplace, business, or corporation together. Employees perform the essential tasks that make sure that the company’s long term vision and goals are successfully and efficiently implemented. While no business will run successfully without proper management, it is important that those employed enjoy coming to work and maintain a positive attitude while in the work place, while being productive and completing tasks with efficiency. Keeping this in mind, it is vital to ensure that employees are satisfied with the position that they hold, and most importantly, strive for more.

Motivation is what gives people a reason to perform or behave in a certain way with the desire or willingness to gain something. It is an absolute necessity to keep employees motivated in the workplace and encourage them to perform above expectations. In addressing what elements of employment result in both motivation and efficiency, we have to look at concepts and frameworks that are both universal across different cultural contexts and applicable to a wide variety of industries. Implementing strategies that utilize organizational justice, workforce unity and employee development were all highly influential ways to motivate workers in diverse settings.

Dressler (1999) - Communication and Company Culture

In Gary Dressler’s 1999 article, How to Earn Your Employees’ Commitment, the author stressed the main themes of communication, company values, community, organizational justice and employee development. Dressler’s main premise reflects that “while whole commitment and motivation are not required, they contribute to an effective workforce” through higher attendance and longer job tenure (Dressler, 1999, p. 58). Motivating employees goes hand in hand with ensuring their full commitment to both management and their personal tasks. The first critical aspect is committing to values that address the employees’ needs. This means placing important company values in writing, having a fair management team and following through with promises. Secondly, it is vital to have a clear and widely communicated mission.

It is thus important to “create a shared mission and an ideology that lays out a basic way of thinking and doing things; create institutional charisma by linking their missions and values to a higher calling and promoting the commitment of employees to the mission” (Dressler, p. 59). Next, creating a sense of community through cross-utilization, teamwork and sharing is vital in having people truly invest their commitment to any organization. Finally, committing to employee success, empowering them and providing developmental exercises are critical in endorsing strong employee development (Dressler, p. 65). Together, these factors contribute to the overall motivation of employees within any workforce. 

In utilizing these outlined practices, employees perceive a much higher level of interest in their jobs. In communicating a clear message to employees, the job is no longer just a means towards the end of a paycheck; instead, the end result is a higher calling (Dressler, p. 29). This psychological approach not only stresses the importance of working within the organization, but also encourages them to buy into the ideologies that the company supports. Once the job becomes a higher calling based on company tradition, the employee has much more personal interest invested into its overall success and efficiency. Organizational justice was also critical because it emphasized the company’s initiative in not only words, but through action. Dressler remarked that “considerable evidence supports a link between procedural justice associated with organization policies and the affective commitment of employees” (Dressler, p. 60). This means that as employees saw fairness being implemented company-wide for all employees, they were more likely to uphold moral and ethical standards of conduct and job performance.

Finally, the emphasis on group interaction was also very important. Companies tended to have more committed and motivated employees if there was habitual group contact through activities regulated by the company (Dressler, p.  61). This means that as employees interacted with one another more in regular group contact, they developed stronger relationships with one another. Consequently, they were more committed. Therefore, the major elements of company values, organizational justice and group interaction were critical in making employees more committed and motivated to the whole organization. This was only possible if the company took a proactive role in regulating and ensuring that policies were upheld in both written and actionable contexts.

Spicer (1985) - The Public Choice Approach

Michael Spicer, in A Public Choice Approach to Motivating People in Bureaucratic Organizations, argued that cooperation and the use of small, consistent workgroups (like ones used in SCRUM) was the key to a successful motivational strategy. Conditional cooperation, according to Public Choice Theory, suggests that managers are able to achieve cooperation and motivation from employees if there is a mutual understanding of benefits for both parties where reward systems are present (Spicer, 1985, p. 521).  This can be accomplished by assigning employees to smaller groups. As Spicer remarked, “Successful cooperation among a group of subordinates leads to higher levels of effort when rewards are based on group effort” (Spicer, p. 522). Since cooperation is easily managed in smaller groups through direct interaction, it is an exceptional managerial practice in motivating employees.

Moreover, ‘jointness’ of production is also important because it makes small groups of employees interdependent on one another. This is effective with a group reward system because “rewards based on group effort would seem more likely to raise effort levels than rewards based on relative individual effort” (Spicer, p. 521). Thus, a smaller group size where employees rely on one another raises motivation to perform well and reap the rewards as opposed to individual rewards. Finally, the extent to which group interaction is with the same people is also influential in determining employee motivation. Individuals that work together regularly have a higher incentive to cooperate because they know that future interaction will happen. This engages employees to build stronger lasting relationships with one another and further motivates them.  

The key elements of motivating employees based on this article are interdependent interaction within groups and mutual benefits of cooperation. When reward systems are used in group settings, there is more personal accountability for each individual person to contribute to the unit. While an individual’s efforts can be diluted within large groups, smaller groups offer much more transparency into who is contributing and to what extent. Consequently, employees are much more motivated to reap the rewards of group benefits by interacting with each other in cooperation. This conditional cooperation must exist among managers and subordinates or simply among subordinates (Spicer, p. 521). In addition to cooperation, interdependent interaction among small groups is also a highly influential aspect. Within small groups, detecting, isolating and overcoming uncooperative and problematic behavior is much easier (Spicer, p. 522). As employees rely on each other and work together, they are more motivated to work efficiently and in unison. Couple this with strong leaders that exhibit good leadership, and the effectiveness can be unimaginable. Consequently, by implementing small groups and joint work efforts, employees are not merely driven by a monetary reward system; instead, future civil and efficient interaction becomes a meaningful motivating factor that accomplishes company and individual goals.

D’Iribarne (2002) - The Cross-Cultural Context

Finally, Philippe d’Iribarne’s (2002) article, Motivating Workers in Emerging Countries: Universal Tools and Local Adaptations, offered a cross cultural context in identifying the value of both local and universal strategies of employee motivation. This comprehensive study of both manager and subordinate workers in Morocco and Mexico found that in order to achieve Total Quality Management (TQM) as well as a motivated workforce, “one must treat them well, respect them, give them responsibility, listen to and inform them, justly compensate their efforts and promote the feeling that they belong to a remarkable team” (d’Iribarne, 2002, p. 254). Even when multinational corporations conduct business in different cultural settings, universal strategies like team unity and mutual respect were important. For instance, in his study the author remarked that “everyone gave their support when a leader provided a model that the local community could embrace” (d’Iribarne, p. 248).

Treating all employees with respect and diminishing the role of authority and hierarchy was extremely important. Employees reported more satisfaction and motivation when managers set good examples, motivated others and celebrated high performance. Moreover, catering to local cultural traditions also held probative value in motivating employees. In complying with family-centric values of Mexico, managers were successful in winning employee approval when local cultural values were exerted: “speaking informally, using first names, living together, an open door policy, and allowing each person to raise concerns no matter what they hierarchical rank” (d’Iribarne, p. 251). As managers utilized motivational strategies that catered to local customs and universal principles, employees reported higher levels of motivation, satisfaction and overall job performance.

On a broader scope, these findings illuminate the themes of equality, being able to lead by example and the endorsement of employment being a higher calling rather than just an occupation for a given wage. By default, giving other people mutual respect is a very basic principle that goes very far in the business world. As employees are treated fairly and they see this being implemented across the whole organization, they are highly motivated to participate in a culture of respect and reciprocity. This is especially effective when every level of authority follows through via leading by example. It represented a much broader “shift to relationships based on mutual trust among, across and within hierarchical levels” (d’Iribarne, p. 252). Furthermore, using company values to create a sense of identity within the organization was also effective. Again, the relationship between the employee and employer had a much more symbolic purpose than merely working for pay. Consequently, being part of a broader identity and being treated like a unit was an especially useful cultural adaptation that contributed to a highly motivated and efficient workforce.

Concluding Remarks

Implementing strategies that utilize organizational justice, workforce unity and employee development were all highly influential strategies to motivate workers. Implementing fair systems that endorsed company values of justice were highly effective because it epitomized the company’s enthusiasm and validity of a culture of respect and equality. This successfully nullified any negative aspects of hierarchy such as authority and preferential treatment towards specific individuals and not others. Employees were highly motivated to see that managers respected subordinates and supported cooperative interaction. Workforce unity was especially important because it encouraged employees to work together to accomplish similar goals, especially among women (who are generally subject to gender discrimination).

Despite being especially effective in smaller groups, workforce unity on a symbolic level was effective in motivating employees because the job in itself became a much higher calling that individuals were enthusiastic to be a part of and participate accordingly. Strategies like sharing tasks, regulating communication and upholding strong company values all worked coherently to motivate employees in a broader scope. Finally, employee development through fair and mutually beneficial relationships was vital. In giving employees opportunities to excel, rewarding their efforts and helping them along the way, companies can further motivate their workforce to go above and beyond their expectations. Together, these common strategies motivate the workforce across different profession types, cultural contexts and group settings. 


Dressler, G. (1999). How to Earn Your Employees' Commitment. The Academy of Management Executives, 13(2), 58-67. Retrieved May 3, 2011, from www.jstor.org. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4165540>

Spicer, M. (1985). A Public Choice Approach to Motivating People in Bureaucratic Organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 10(3), 518-526. Retrieved May 4, 2011, from www.jstor.org. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/258133>

d'Iribarne, P. (2002). Motivating Workers in Emerging Countries: Universal Tools and Local Adaptations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(3), 243-256. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4093802>

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