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3 Employee Motivation Theories You Should Know

3 Employee Motivation Theories You Should Know

A cynic might say that the only motivation an employee needs is the paycheck he or she receives every two weeks.

But those workers are probably not as happy and fulfilled as they could be, and when you master a couple of key employee motivation theories, you’ll be well on your way to a winning workforce.

Rise to the Top of the Employee Motivation Theories Pyramid

Chances are you’ve attended a motivational seminar or college course that introduced you to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

As a refresher, his pyramid, largest at the bottom, denotes that people need the following in their lives to be content:

  1. Physiological needs met
  2. Feeling of safety
  3. Socialization
  4. Self-esteem building
  5. Self-actualization

The first two parts of the pyramid are a given: You’re going to make a roof, heat, and running water available for your employees. You’re going to ensure they feel safe in their cubicles, laboratories, construction zones, etc.

Where you become a key factor in motivation is towards the top of the pyramid.

Aim to encourage employees along the pyramid’s point. Help them better their esteem with projects they’re able to complete, teams that work together and give each other positive feedback, and recognize accomplishments.

Desk Accessories, Not Dollars

It may be hard to believe, but employee motivation theories clearly reveal that you don’t have to deal out dollars just to keep and please your employees.

You can engage and increase employee motivation through small tokens of appreciation. (Sure, this costs money, but far less than around-the-board salary raises). There’s even a theory for it, called extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation can go both ways, negative and positive, but you’re of course working toward the greater good. If you gift your employees, it’s recommended you do it soon after the intended accomplishment to keep up the momentum as well as reinforce the good behavior.

Establish That Equity

Not all things in life are fair, but equity is one of the most recommended employee motivation theories that it is being taught in management training courses and universities across the country.

At Penn State University, students learn that the most important thing in equity theory is not whether the actual situation or reward is actually fair.

This is a tricky one, because every single employee has a different idea of what’s fair, just, and deserved.

Your job is to navigate those very rough and rocky waters.

It’s whether the employees perceive it is. In the example from Penn State, athletes are experiencing issues with motivation because they perceive inequity among their salaries.

From the outside in (or even from the bench), a person could think, “They’re all making tens of millions of dollars a year! Who cares?”

Well, the athletes care. And the team owners and managers would “score” big to take note and try to bring team equity back into line.

The fact is, things will matter to your employees whether or not they make sense to you.

The Best Things in Life Are Free!

It’s true. You really can get something for nothing.

To start, how about a free consultation on successful ways to motivate employees?

You can learn, at no cost, from the experts who have mastered how to attract attention at a tradeshow and have the best ideas on using promotional products, including the hottest tech promos to have employees feeling their best.

But we’d also like you to join in below for some free idea sharing.

How have you implemented promotional products into your employee motivation strategy? What’s been the most popular products? We’re looking forward to hearing from you, so please share now!

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