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Money and work performance Essay

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Updated: May 12th, 2019


The idea of public service motivation can offer a partial explanation to this analysis. The Ideal of Public Service by O’Toole clearly demonstrates main differences between traditional and modern approaches to the study of what motivate people.

The traditional approach to a public service as an idea was a worthy thing to do, and a prescribed behaviour expected of public officials. Contemporary public service motivation approaches are using empirical research to discover why people seek jobs and remain in the public service, and whether the assumptions of earlier theories are correct (O’Toole, 2000).

The idea and ideal of public service motivation is that those in official positions of public authority regard the interests of the whole society as being the guiding influence over all public decision-making, that their personal, class, or group interests are to be set aside when making decisions. In addition, they are public servants purely out of a perceived duty to serve the public.

This idea emanated from earlier works of Aristotle and Plato which were Politics and Republic respectively. Public officials set aside personal interests. The idea is that he sees it as his duty to serve his community. The duty to serve the community surpasses a commitment to family, tribe, or self. Aristotle realized that it would be probably unrealistic and impossible for a man, naturally, a selfish animal, to do that, but as an ideal, it would have both inspirational and motivational force.

Adam Smith, a moral philosopher and father of modern economic, filled the gap between naturalism and utilitarianism. He gave the natural order first school and individuals in the second. In his work of Moral Sentiments, he identifies six motives, which naturally derive human conducts.

These are self-love, sympathy, the desire to be free, a sense of propriety, a habit of labour, and the propensity to exchange, or trade (Roll, 1954). From these motives, he portrays a man as the best judge of his own best situations, and given a chance, he will not only get his own best advantage and balance his motives, but also strive for the common good.

Types of motivational bases

Some scholars have argued that there are three types of motivational bases, such as rational base motive, this includes participation in the processes such as policy formulation, commitment to programmes, and advocacy for a special or private interest.

The norm-based motive considers issues such as a desire to serve the public interest, loyalty to duty, and the government and social equity. Finally, the affective motive type of motivational base includes a commitment to programmes from a genuine conviction about its social importance, and patriotism of benevolence.

These scholars further propose that people should connect their work motivation to individuals’ performance. For productive workers, managers should carefully attend to these different types of motivational base. Management should shift their focus to physical surroundings, concerns, and crises that may arise in work or personal lives.

Accidents, diseases, and hazards such as stress generally result in low productivity and inefficiency, high turnover, absenteeism, and medical claims. When there is a deliberate effort by the workplace to reduce the incidence of these, both the agency and the employees benefit. There is a greater productivity when there is a healthier workforce, and a better quality of work life.

“Many experts argue that people do their best work when they are motivated by a sense of purpose rather than the pursuit of money”. Explanation and critical evaluation

Theoretical approaches

We can look at this issue critically from the existing theories that support the idea of work and motivation.

Equity Theory

We can also refer to this theory as inequality theory. The main motivating force behind this theory is to strive for equity due to perceived degree of inequity. The equity theory operates on the principle of exchanges i.e. inputs and investment and outcomes. Employer must recognize the existence of these inputs and consider them relevant for them to function. If they are not, then a potential case of inequity may exist. Outcomes are various things an individual may receive.

Inequity exists whereby the ratio of an individual’s outcomes to inputs departs to a significant degree from the ration perceived. Workers may feel under-rewarded if their inputs into a job are higher than what other workers put. Usually, this happens in cases where a worker considers himself hardworking, but has same or low salary as his colleagues.

This theory does not limit itself to inequities that do not favour individuals alone. Equity, balance, or reciprocity exists when outcome and input ratios for the individual and the reference source are equal. Conversely, and the motivating force of inequity occurs when there is a departure either way from this steady state.

From this theory, we can assert that money, which is a reward, may be the main cause of motivation in working rather than sense of purpose. Thus, a poorly paid employee will not perform at his best when the reward (money) is also poor.

Goal-setting theory

Goal-setting theory relates higher levels of intended achievements to higher levels of performances. Theory further stretches that when an individual has specific goals or standards of performance to meet, the performance effects would be more pronounced than when specific goals are missing. Goal achievement leads to the pleasurable emotional state we call satisfaction; failure to achieve a goal leads to un-pleasurable state of dissatisfaction.

Goal commitment focuses on performance as a direct consequence form of motivation. However, a commitment to a goal depends on a set of factors, such as authority, peer groups, publicness of goal statement, incentives, punishments, satisfaction, goal intensity, competition, and attribution. These sets of factors may influence the commitment level of perceived ability or expectancy of attaining a given goal.

Although scholars have taken several positions with regard to goal-setting and motivation, the theory does not make any assumptions based on the effectiveness of varied methods individuals may use to set their goals. The focus of theory is on motivational mechanisms rather than the methods used for setting goals. Therefore, we can say that the theory does not regard money has the basis of the best performance but rather the commitment to goal achievement.

Two-factor theory

Frederick Herzberg prefers to refer to this theory as motivation-hygiene. Two-factor theory has a dual nature approach to sources of job satisfaction, and finally job motivation. This theory considers job satisfaction as an “outgrowth of achievement, recognition (verbal), work (challenging), responsibility, and advancement (promotion)” (Frederick, 1966).

The presence of all these in a job “satisfy basic needs, positive feeling and improved performance will occur” (Frederick, 1966). There are five intrinsic aspects of the work itself that satisfy personal growth and self-actualization (Frederick, 1966).

Job dissatisfactions results under conditions where work takes place and these conditions may include company policies, administrative practices, supervision, interpersonal relations, working environment (physical), job security, benefits, and salary. We refer to these as hygiene factors.

Availability of these factors eliminates job dissatisfaction and improves performance, up to a certain level. For exceptional achievement, management must now turn to motivation. Job must provide an enabling environment for workers so that they can achieve meaningful goals. This is the intrinsic scope of work. Employees must have control over the job to enable them realise a sense of personal growth and achievement.

From Herzberg’s point of view, money is not among the five intrinsic scope of motivation. Money only features in cases where it may be the cause of job dissatisfaction. In short, we do not need money to perform the best work.

Vroom’s Theory of Work and Motivation

Vroom’s theory puts forward the idea that people tend to prefer certain goals or outcomes over others. Experiences of feelings of satisfaction relate to certain outcomes (valence).

Employees prefer a positive valence as an outcome and vice verse (Vroom, 1964). Intrinsic motivation is the desire for competence and self-determination. Workers can achieve a sense of motivation by freely choosing work or what to do. This enhances a sense of self-determination and competence through the use of positive feedback.

Money is a part of extrinsic reward. Employees highly regard extrinsic rewards because of control and informational (feedback) aspects they possess. Motivation will only occur where there is a noticeable and positive feedback. Thus, money is essential in motivating workers perform their best but not among the intrinsic drives that motivate people to work.

Money and Motivation

Houran notes that people should not work without payment (Houran 2012). Pursuing money to cater for the family and offer the necessary comfort and security is reasonable and is different from seeking money with ill motives. People should earn fair wages depending on works they do.

Likewise, employers should also know about this. Thus, money becomes the centre of focus between the employer and employee, which should not be the case. This because most of the above theories indicate that money is necessary but not an intrinsic source of motivation and best job performance.

Scholars have concluded that money involve two main issues. First, money as an incentive is necessary but also relies on the organisation and working conditions to make it effective. Organisations have different cultures of rewarding their employees with money. Organisations should learn under what conditions financial incentives become effective. They must also note changes such incentives draw from employees.

Second, financial rewards work best when employees receive them as groups. This is because most organisations insist on team works for best performances. This implies that organisations that have cultures of rewarding individuals only serve to encourage individualism and disregard for team work. Therefore, for an organisation to maintain high productivity, it must reward people as groups or teams.

We have established that money is not the most important or effective source of motivating employees. There are other forms of motivation that organisations can apply so as to motivate their workforces.

According to job characteristics theory, there are five main ways an organisation can motivate its workforce. Management can enhance work motivation by implementing these factors among employees so that they can perform at their best.

Autonomy, this is where employees have personal feelings of responsibility for their works and considers the outcomes their own.

Task significance, the job has significance influence over employees.

Task identity, people prefer to use their personally valued skills to complete a task. The employee can notice a sense of a job beginning and ending. Thus, he can see the final transformation product of his work.

Variety, the worker derives motivation from performing a number of truly challenging tasks. Thus, the worker must use his different and important set of skills.

Feedback, this shows the level of a task accomplishment. The feedback may come from a work itself or from the manager.

A part from the above factors, employees can also get job motivation from rotation. This mainly works to eliminate job boredom and monotony. It may involve performing different roles in an organisation periodically. Job rotation offers the balance and employee needs in order to avoid job boredom and enhance job satisfaction and motivation.

Management may use these factors to enhance motivation and job experience among workers. However, some factors like individual trait and motives influence the work outcome and motivation. Therefore, any plan to enhance job motivation and best performances require careful planning.


Holzer and Callahan argue that institutions that have been the recipients of exemplary awards use various state-of-the-art approaches for motivating people (Holzer and Callahan, 1998). People recognise money has important motivator, but it is not the only motivator. High-achieving agencies integrate human, resource management policies, plans and processes.

Many workers get motivation from the desire to find someplace where management recognise their qualities, regarded as human beings with aspirations, where they experience the purpose of their work, and where they have the opportunity to be consulted on matters that have impacts on their working lives.

Factors such as improved working and relationship management, communication, training to improve skills, and improving the physical, working environment may all serve to motivate the workforce in any working environment.

Strategic motivation should consider the old theories of motivational to be important, but strategic motivation goes beyond these methods and techniques. Identification, recognition, and application are some of the modern, dynamic systems of motivation that can create a mission-driven team of performers.

According to Farazmand, some of the examples of these high-road and visionary motivational forces include (Farazmand, 2002),

  1. Creation and instilment of a “real purpose” of “public service” among strategic person;
  2. Promotion of trust with a promise of future career beyond the narrow notion of “careerism,” a sense of belonging to the organization, to the cause they serve, and to their nation as well as to the faith they cherish;
  3. Maintaining a sound compensation system that is both equitable and efficient in order to not only prevent organizational brain drain but also attract the most competent talents to the public service;
  4. Create an inter-organizational mobility and rotation system that would enable both organizations and strategic personnel to move freely without obstacles; and
  5. Promote the “knowledge and skill-base” of these strategic people periodically to keep them up to date and equipped with the cutting-edge knowledge they need to manage, and function, in the organizations in the information age.

This can be done by in-service training programs, seminars, conferences, and workshops (Farazmand, 2002).

Reference List

Daft, R. 2010, Organization Theory and Design, 10th ed, South – Western College, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Farazmand, A. 2002, Modern Organizations: Theory and Practice, Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT.

Frederick, H. 1966, Work and the Nature of Man, World Press, Cleveland.

Holzer, M. and Callahan, K. 1998, Government at Work: Best Practices and Model Programs, Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.

Houran, J. n.d., Money and Employee Motivation. Web.

McClelland, D. 1985, ‘How Motives, Skills, and Values Determine What People Do’, American Psychologist, vol. 3 no. 40, pp. 812–25.

O’Toole, B. 2000, The Ideal of Public Service: Reflections on the Higher Civil Service in Britain, Routledge, Abingdon, UK.

Roll, E. 1954, History of economic thought, Faber and Faber, London.

Vroom, V. 1964, Work and Motivation, Wiley, New York.

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