Motivated employees are more productive and creative than those who are unmotivated. They enjoy their work more and experience less stress. Managers usually strive to find ways to motivate their staff. Behavioral psychologists have developed various theories about motivation in an attempt to better understand and control human behavior. A basic understanding of three major motivation theories helps us to see how motivation can be applied in the workplace.

What is Motivation?

Stated simply, motivation is the driving force behind all people's actions. Behavioral psychologists have conducted research investigating why people behave the way they do. Entrepreneurs who understand the theories that were developed from this research about what makes people tick learn how to motivate purchasers to buy their products and use their services. Employers also want to find the key that motivates workers to work diligently and productively.

Taylor's Theory of Scientifc Management

Frederick Taylor's theory of motivation states that most workers are motivated solely by the pay they receive for the work they do. He postulated that most workers do not enjoy the work they do and only perform when given the direct reward of monetary payment. His ideas were adopted by Henry Ford and other industrialists who paid their factory workers according to the number of items produced. This theory lost favor as workers became frustrated and production was frequently halted due to strikes by disgruntled employees.

Mayo's Theory of Human Relations

Elton Mayo's theory of motivation examined the social needs of the worker. He believed that pay alone was not sufficient to motivate employees to put forth their best effort. He believed that the social needs of the workers should be taken into consideration. He recommended employers treat their workers in a caring and humane fashion that demonstrates an interest in the individual in order to have them produce their best work.

Maslow and Herzberg's Theory of Human Needs

Abraham Maslow and Frederick Irving Herzberg believed that psychological forces drive human behavior. Their theory postulated a graduated scale of human needs ranging from basic, physical ones such as hunger and thirst to higher level ones such as the need to be loved and the need for self-fulfillment. They believed employers would see better results from workers if they recognized the various needs of individual workers and if they varied the rewards offered to them.