Motivation – The “Driver”

It is pretty interesting to dig deeper into what motivates employees in the workplace. It is also interesting how we deal with this everyday of our lives without even thinking about it. Motivation is very important in the workplace because it is what drives employees to accomplish tasks and excel expectations. David McClelland’s need theory claims that there are three driving motivators: achievement, affilitation or power. He claims that

“these needs are found to varying degrees in all workers and managers, and this mix of motivational needs characterizes a person’s or manager’s style and behaviour, both in terms of being motivated, and in the management and motivation others.”

There are 2 types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is being motivated to do something because you enjoy doing it without expecting any external rewards; Extrinsic motivation is the opposite, where this type will engage an individual to do something because of external rewards such as some form of award (monetary or not) or praise. The first example I can think of when intrinsic/extrinsic motivation comes to mind is how different my mom and I are when it comes to cleaning the house. My mom finds such joy in cleaning that it is almost a stress-reliever for her; you don’t even need to ask her to do it! Her day will be considered “successful” because she has a spotless house and she will not be able to sleep peacefully until it is up to her standards. On the other hand, my mom claims that it’s almost like pulling teeth when it comes to asking me to clean the house when she is at work. It has come down to her adding on to my weekly allowance when I as younger or treating me out for ice cream or something sweet (which I always gave into). I am definitely extrinsically motivated when it comes to cleaning. But going back to the world of business, this article outlines some extrinsic factors of motivation in our world today. It also states that

“An organization is nothing but the people who work in it. No individual can accomplish great things alone. Happy employees translate into successful organizations.”

All of these factors are important to think about especially in our economy today. Are employees getting less and less motivated in the workplace today because of our struggling economy? CNN came out with a great article recently that caught my attention relating to motivation and the economy. As we all know, many people are getting laid off and those jobs are going to the employees that are still in the company, adding on to their pile of work – causing “employee burnout.” Many commission incentives (in retail at least) have been taken away and those companies have to intrinsically motivate their employees in order to keep up with this economy. A previous retail job eliminated the commission incentive and replaced it with points and more hours when sales goals were met. Many of my coworkers were not happy with this, but as this article states that

“No one wants to complain for fear of losing their job”

What do you think? Is motivation correlated to the economy today? I’d love to get your feedback!


P.S. here an article on Forbes I found interesting.

David C McClelland’s Motivational Needs Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Levesque, C., Copeland, K J., & Pattie, M D. (2010). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Rochester, NY: Elsevier


Pillai, Maya. (2010). Employee Expectations in the Modern Era. Retrieved May 28, 2012 from

Stern, G. (2012). Employee burnout: Around the corner? Already here?. Retrieved May 28, 2012 from

Ready, K. (2012). What Employees Secretly want. Retrieved May 28, 2012 from


6 thoughts on “Motivation – The “Driver”

  1. hey Lilia,

    Great post. One thing I really enjoyed was your personal story about your Mom’s cleaning and your own cleaning lol. It was an easy to understand example, and it was nice you shared something from your personal experience. (It’s more interesting, in my opinion, than examples straight out of the text book. Been there… Read that…) But you didn’t go on about your personal life, you brought the blog back to the “business world”, so it was brief and professional.

    Also, I like how you asked a question at the end of your post: nice way to engage and encourage comments. It also gives us something specific to think about. I think I’m going to borrow this strategy from you for my future posts. To answer your question though, I would definitely think motivation is correlated to the economy. The economy can be measured by Gross Domestic Product per Capita, which measures the output per person. The more motivated employees are the better they will do their jobs. They won’t just do enough to get by. From a macro perspective, this should increase the GDP and GDP/Capita of the country.

    However, I think motivation is best when it’s intrinsic, but not all jobs are very delightful. So, that’s when extrinsic rewards are needed. If my commission were taken away, and the only “reward” is to get more hours, I’d be choked. Sure, the economy might be bad, and we have to learn to be as resourceful and thrifty as possible, but employers still need to provide a rewarding and encouraging work environment. Spend time on customer service training, sales tips and team building exercises. Employee appreciation days can give awards and ribbons to hardworking employees. The little things will help employees feel appreciated and lucky to have these jobs during tough times. (Especially, when they hear about layoffs from friends and the news) I do feel times are tough and people have doubts during recessions no matter what, but the situation can be improved when employers work towards making jobs more enjoyable and satisfying for employees, but also providing small rewards like ribbons, thank you cards, or cake… just once in a while at least. It’s better to have employees feel that their hard work is noticed and appreciated than to give off the message: “Keep working like monkeys, or lose your job.”

    Anyways, great post with a lot of resources. I look forward to learning about from you.

    • Hey Lilia,
      I enjoyed reading your post. It was very nice to share your personal story.It was a very simple example to be understood by audiences. You used your personal experience to support your topic. But you did not keep focusing on your personal life so much; you bought the blog back to your topic. Also, it was a nice way to encouraging comments by asking questions at the end of post. I think it was very brief and professional.
      To answer your question tough, I would absolutely think motivation is correlated to the economy. Usually, when people feel more motivated, then they will do better jobs. Motivation is a great power to encourage people to move on .Every person has different reasons for working .Their motivations for working are different So I agree that motivation can be defied as two types : intrinsic and extrinsic. It is true that some people really enjoy doing their work because they are just interested in it even without bonus .And some people is opposite .Rewards and recognition are the reasons for it is necessary for company to use motivation strategies to improve the efficiency in the work place.Because employees are one of important factors for contributing social economy .
      Anyways, very impressive post with a lot of brilliant ideas .I hope to learn more from you in the future posts.

    • Hey Lilia,

      I think the topic of motivation is fascinating, there are so many theories and opinions on what really motivates people.
      I have to agree with Antony that intrinsic motivators is what all companies should inspire in their employees. Coming back to the your housework example, growing up I had the exact the same situation with my mom. Now i understand that my mom had an intrinsic motivation to clean, it gave her pleasure to have everything her way, therefore she would do a better and more thorough cleaning job than I ever would. I expected rewards and cleaned the house because I had to.

      Your last example about the retail environment with a commission structure relates to my blog post about the cognitive evaluation theory. The theory explains how intrinsic motivation decreases when people are motivated with extrinsic rewards.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog post.


  2. Great post Lilia,

    How organizations motivate employees today is definitely affected by current economy and also its current trend of motivational strategies. Intrinsic motivations, although not a new concept, but only until recently economists have gained better understanding of its impact on employees.

    Take your personal story for example, your mom loves cleaning and is intrinsically motivated to do so, on the other hand you needed some extrinsic motivators to help you do the task. When you were younger it took maybe just a candy bar to make you clean the room but now it would probably takes something more of value to you to motivate you. In organizations there are always limited resources, and the abundance of the resources is usually reflected from the strength of the economy. When the economy is good, extrinsic rewards can be offered to satisfy the demand; but when economy is weak, organizations may not be able to provide the same extrinsic rewards as used to. Moreover, people’s value may change, certain amount of salaries may not be sufficient to motivate employees to do the same task continuously.

  3. Hey Lillia,

    I definitely think that extrinsic rewards are the primary motivator in a position where compensation is based on commissions.

    For example, working in a phone store, we have a contest going on that the top 10 reps in the district for activations get a cash bonus of $1,250. The extrinsic reward is definitely the first thing we think about because if we do not reach the goals set, we do not get rewarded.

    That is not to say that we do not want to help customers, but living in the most expensive city in the world makes us more concerned about ourselves than others.

    It might touch base into the realm of egoism, but one has to be first primarily concerned with their own well being before worrying about others.

    The extrinsic reward is what motivates individuals in the workplace to try to do a better job than they currently are because it gives them an incentive for working harder.

    What would you rather pick?

    A job paying you $25,000/year that you really enjoy, BUT limits you to only being able to pay your rent/having enough food to survive.


    A job paying you a base salary of $15,000/year with commissions that average $35,000 that you do not enjoy, but it gives you a supplementary income of $10,000 to spend at your leisure. But you don’t enjoy the job nearly as much as the one above.

    The egoist would naturally pick the latter in order to satisfy their self benefit. But then comes the question, is it more important to be financially stable than happy?

  4. Prab,

    You touch on a compelling point. Most people I’ve spoken to state that in order to be happy, they must be financial stable.

    I would not say financial stability or happiness can be deemed as one more important than the other. In order to be happy people need to be able to do the things they like, so financial stability can be seen as a sort of pre-requisite for happiness.


    People are happy when they reach goals. Financial goals are goals too, and financial stability is at the top of many people’s list of financial goals.

    Happiness is sometimes needed in order to be financially stable as you referenced we live in an expensive city. In order for people to be financially stable they must operate at their full potential. Unhappy people have a harder time operating at their full potential, so I see happiness and financial stability as having an interesting corelation.

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