Effective motivational strategies have a tremendous impact on productivity in the workplace. An engaged and motivated workforce can mean the difference between a successful business and a dying business. Managers have the power to motivate and demotivate workers. Perhaps the most essential element of understanding motivational strategies that affect productivity in the workplace is to recognize that power and educate managers so they wield this power to the benefit of the organization.

Sources of Motivation

To fully understand the impact of motivation on the workplace, you must first examine the possible sources of motivation. Workers are generally motivated by both internal and external factors. Internal factors include an individual worker’s own personal thought processes and experiences. External factors are those, such as the organizational culture, that either inspire workers to be productive through the use of rewards or by instilling a sense of fear in workers. It is essential to understand that an employee who is highly self-motivated can be greatly impacted by an external environment that discourages workers to display high levels of motivation.

Leadership and Culture

Managers must be leaders and create a positive organizational culture to encourage workers to be productive. While managers can enforce productivity levels simply by using the authority of their positions, leaders seek positive motivators to encourage optimal levels of productivity. Employees are generally more productive when working in an atmosphere of respect where leaders keep the lines of communication open and keep workers informed of long-term goals rather than simply controlling and managing workers in their day-to-day activities.


The key to managing productivity in the workplace is to manage behaviors rather than personalities. Reinforcement is a term coined by behavioral psychologists who developed the theory of operant conditioning. This theory, developed by psychologists Edward Thorndike, John Watson and B.F. Skinner, cites consequences, positive or negative, as a key stimulator of behavioral learning. In other words, if managers want increased productivity, they must reward that behavior.

Conversely, they must also apply negative reinforcement, or punishments, to those workers who do not meet productivity goals. Managers should also ensure that productive workers do not feel that they are being punished for being productive. For example, a productive worker who receives rewards and recognition for outstanding work will be more likely to continue to be productive than a productive worker who is rewarded only with more work.

Career Development

Providing training for ongoing career development is a vital element of the performance management process that influences productivity in the workplace. Helping workers meet their personal career development goals not only improves the job skills required to be productive in their current positions, but also improves job satisfaction and employee engagement. These essential elements required for optimal productivity can be greatly influenced by the successful implementation of career development programs within the workplace.