Theories of Work Motivation in the Boiler Room


Tom has followed a system by which he considers the employees as people who work for him according to his directions. He appears to have little consideration for their personal affairs and pays only when they work. If for some reason they are unable to accommodate him, he is impersonal and does not understand that he needs to be empathetic towards them. Knowledge of the motivation theories would have honed his skills in handling his employees.

The technique of treating them almost like slaves is not the done thing now with heavy competition, domestic and international. Keeping his employees motivated through attractive and winning ways and providing them more freedom would have produced the kind of success that Westjet had. Tom’s motivational strategy is wrong where he dismisses any employee who does not reach required standards. His employees are not offered any motivational interventions.

They are advised to work to get positive responses from customers. Further, Tom keeps changing his business name: this move does not build credibility among customers or security to his employees. Employees tend to be late or do not show up at all. Tom seems to care little for his employees’ concerns. His manner of payment is not convincing. Moreover he works only for a few days and has long spans of closure. This manner of business is flimsy and has no long term prospects. Success may only be apparent and there is no long term financial security.

Westjet’s success

Special policies and programmes were designed to integrate the interests of the employees and the company. The employees’ morale was boosted by offering a generous sharing of profits. The profit margins of the company were reflected onto the employees. They were presented with huge cheques twice a year. The employees could envision the large profits that they could assist the company to achieve through their sincere efforts.

Company stock could be owned by the employees. This helped them work as if they owned the company. Their jobs too would provide them sufficient sharing of ideas for success. Building up the profit and share values, they were much unlike Tom’s unhappy employees. The extent of freedom and the exercise of autonomy won the employees over. Novel ideas to boost the performance of the company were encouraged

when the employees had a direct contact with the customers. The corporate culture must be a well-disciplined one but the freedom it provides generously to the employees is a significant gesture which enhances the final achievement as Westjet has proved. Tom needs to study the motivational strategy behind Westjet’s success.


Motivation is the extent to which persistent effort is directed towards a goal (Schermerhorn, 2008). The effort of the person on his job or the kind of activity he exhibits denotes motivation. The job done determines the type of extra effort taken: a hospital worker may transfer more patients in a cheerful and sincere manner and a researcher may take greater effort to search for literature on his research. Persistence is another feature of motivation which does not allow the efforts taken to deteriorate after a time (Schermerhorn, 2008). The action will be consistent and remain a characteristic of that worker.

Some people secure achievements with an initial significant effort but later they mellow and remain uninterested in their job. This does not describe motivation. Effort and persistence are related to the quantity of work that a person does.

Direction indicates the quality of his work. A software engineer if accurately motivated would be designing programmes consistently; he would not be playing video games. Motivation would show a person working hard and smartly. Should the worker opt for a selected direction, his persistent effort would materialise as triumphant achievements of the organization (Schermerhorn, 2008). Employees may be motivated by specific goals towards which they channel their persistent efforts. These goals constitute the fourth aspect of the motivation. If the employee channels his efforts towards the opposite direction producing a dysfunctional output, it is not motivation.

Motivation resulting from extrinsic stimulating factors is extrinsic motivation. Many employees do not require this kind of stimuli for becoming motivated and this is intrinsic motivation. A strong interest in one’s job provokes one to be intrinsically motivated (Schermerhorn, 2008). Intrinsic motivation permits one to apply oneself to the job without the encouragement of others. Extrinsic motivation is the application of motivation by others like the employers in the form of incentives, stock-holding and profit-sharing (Schermerhorn, 2008).

Performance is the extent of contribution by an employee towards the achievement of the organization. It is influenced by motivation and other factors like emotional intelligence and general cognitive ability. Salovey and Mayer’s model of emotional intelligence has the perception of emotions as the simplest form of emotional intelligence. The integration and assimilation, knowledge and the understanding of emotions, and the management of emotions are the other versions of emotional intelligence (Mayer, Caruso and Salovey, 2000).

High levels of emotional intelligence and general cognitive ability are necessary for securing the highest performance from an employee by using a high-end motivation. Motivational interventions like high pay and incentives will not work if they are provided to employees who are of low standards when considering emotional intelligence and general cognitive ability and who do not have the skills basically (Cote and Miners, 2006).

If an employee cannot do his job well by his general cognitive ability, he may do so using his emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence predicts job performance. Factors which stand in the way of the performance of an employee are innovative equipment, co-workers and work conditions. Employers can help out with training and providing work conditions conducive to a warm atmosphere in the workplace.

Theories of Motivation

Need theories include content theories and process theories. The content theories tell us about the conditions or needs which help employees be satisfied. The process theories tell us how they can be satisfied. The physiological and psychological wants of the employees must be understood to evolve the motivational strategy. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs classes self-actualisation, esteem, belongingness, safety and physiological needs. Physiological needs would include food, water and shelter for survival and these are satisfied through the pay. Security, stability and freedom from anxiety are the safety needs: working conditions and the workplace must provide these.

Social interaction, companionship and friendship, which are the belongingness needs, can be cultivated at the workplace. Moments of interaction and socialization can be created. Supervision can be done in a friendly and supportive manner. The opportunity to learn challenging new tasks and the appreciation of colleagues and employers suffuses the employees with elation and achievement and provide them the challenge to do more.

Self- actualization through personal fulfillment translates as great potential for creativity, growth and self development. The addition of pay, fringe benefits and improved company policies satisfy the extrinsic needs. Intrinsic needs would be the feeling of satisfaction, achievement and competence. Maslow indicates that the satisfaction of the lowest need of the employee motivates him with a greater potential. Employees have a tendency to have a different need at different times. Recognising this and providing the right impetus helps them to be satisfied always and to put in the best effort possible for the organizational achievement.

Alderberg’s theory

Alferberg’s ERG theory focuses on the existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs. The employees may be motivated to satisfy their relatedness and growth even if existence needs are neglected for some time. Higher level needs need to be satisfied before lower level needs.

McClelland’s theory of needs

Stable personality characteristics are acquired by the needs for achievement, power and affiliation. People generally have the need to perform challenging tasks, influence others and establish friendly relationships. Organisations have to look for what employees at different hierarchical levels would appreciate. Some may need a leadership position and others maybe satisfied by work setting.


Tom has to understand the theories of motivations and put into practice as many of them to have a satisfied population for his employees in order to achieve maximum success in his business.


Cote, S. and Miners, C.T.H. (2006), Emotional Intelligence, cognitive intelligence and job performance, Administrative Science, Quarterly 51, p.1-28.

Mayer, J.D., Caruso, D.R. and Salovey, P. (2000). “Emotional intelligence meets traditional standards for an intelligence”. Intelligence 27, 267-298.

Schermerhorn, J.R., Hunt, J.G. and Osborne, R.N. (2008). “Organisational Behaviour, 10th edition, Wiley.

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