Simply put, motivated workers perform better.
Those are the findings presented in a BI Norwegian School of Management doctoral project completed by associate professor Anders Dysvik, who noted that organizations have the ability to create conditions that allow employees to experience inner motivation at work.
The concept of motivation has been key topic of organizational psychology since the 1920s as organizations seek to find a balance between high productivity and high quality, Dysvik said.
Dysvik’s doctoral project integrated three different theories to explain people’s motivation to work including:
- Prosocial motivation: Employees feel an obligation to give something back to their employer if they feel they are well taken care of.
- Goal orientation: Acquired mindsets that provide guidelines for how employees proceed in situations where they must perform at work.
- Inner motivation: The experience of joy, engagement, meaning and interest associated with the tasks one performs.
Research was conducted in association with Bård Kuvaas, also a professor at BI Norwegian School of Management, encompassing more than 2,900 employees at different Norwegian organizations. The research covered both the public and private sectors.
In four academic articles, Dysvik said that findings point to inner motivation as a trigger for better work performance and an increased willingness to help colleagues. Specifically, workers experiencing inner motivation were more willing to give an extra hand to the organization when necessary.
The study also suggested that motivated employees tend to be more loyal to an organization, ultimately producing attractive retention statistics.
“If organizations want to get the most out of their employees, they will benefit from creating conditions for their employees to experience the highest possible inner motivation at work,” concludes Dysvik.
The organizational researcher also finds that inner motivation helps improve the explanatory power of the two other motivation theories in the study – goal orientation and prosocial motivation – when they are seen together with inner motivation.
Based on the study, Dysvik offers four practical tips for organizations to create conditions for motivation including:
- Offer the employees the opportunity to train and develop at work, and work actively for employees to see the measures as relevant and adequate for their continued development in their jobs.
- Clearly show the employees that they are important to the organization by investing time and resources in their personal development, both through courses and in the daily work through actions like mentor schemes, job rotation and regular feedback on jobs performed.
- View the organization’s HR activities as complementary and as a whole, so that as many of the activities as possible help increase the employees’ perception of autonomy, competence and good social relations between employees, and employees and leaders.
- When hiring new people, the organization should search for candidates with the ability and willingness to learn and develop, and who also have the potential to develop joy in and commitment to the tasks offered.