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Praise and Motivation of Employees Essay

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Updated: Dec 15th, 2019


Praise or recognition is a form of nonfinancial motivator that plays a crucial role in satisfying the ego needs of the organisation workforce. Robbins (2011) is of the opinion that praise motivates the employees and can be very instrumental in employee motivation than the other incentives.

Praising employees make them respond positively. In this case, employees strive to perform to their maximum for the good of the organisation. Praise is also important in the long-term relationships between the employees and managers. The managers who praise and celebrate employees’ success at work tend to have motivated staff than unappreciative managers. Praise on the other has its counterpoints as illustrated by Robbins.

Praise may tend to be paradoxical, not genuine, and may just come from people whom the employees try to appease (Robbins, 2011). Praise can greatly influence the organisational behaviour of any organisation. According to Robbins (2011), six dependent variables influence organisational behaviour. These variables include absenteeism, turnover, deviant behaviour at the workplace, productivity, job satisfaction, and organisational citizenship behaviour (Robbins, 2011).

Praise motivates

There are many theories that support the perspective that praise motivates. In his theory of reinforcement, Skinner argues that a firm can motivate its employees in two ways. According to Skinner, positive reinforcement is a situation whereby organisations motivate employees through both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Companies give these incentives as a positive response to individual performance and behaviour.

Praise can be a positive reinforcer of motivation if employees are going to be stimulated by it. The aspect of praise sufficiently fits into the reinforcement theory. This is because it influences employee behaviour. However, Skinner also argues that the organisation can also use negative reinforcement to remove undesirable consequences. This could be through demotions, punishments, penalties or transfers (Phillips & Gully, 2012).

This perspective is also consistent with the theory X and Y as postulated by Douglas McGregor in exhibit 7.1 (Robbins, 2011). According to McGregor, managers who embrace theory X tend to have demotivated staff because of their perception that employee know what is expected of them and need no be coerced to perform their duties.

Praise fits in this exhibit because the managers who practice theory Y believe that satisfying employees’ needs will influence their behaviour at the workplace. This will positively affect the employees’ motivation. Praise of recognition as an esteem factor is important in maximizing employee motivation.

Herzberg postulated the third theory of motivation in 1959. Herzberg identified two factors that are crucial in employee satisfaction. He identified hygiene factors as those factors essential for employee motivation in an organisation. According Herzberg, hygiene factors do not lead to long-term employee satisfaction.

However, when they are absent in an organisation, it leads to dissatisfaction. Herzberg identified remuneration; job security; physical, working conditions; employee status; work conditions and fringe benefits as critical hygiene factors. In his second factors, Herzberg categorized praise or recognition, sense of achievement, work promotions, responsibility and meaningful work as motivational factors.

Herzberg was of the opinion that motivational factors are intrinsic satisfiers that result in positive satisfaction among the employees in an organisation (Herzberg, Mausner & Snyderman, 2005). Praise is consistent with the illustration in exhibit 7.2 by Robbins as one of the satisfying factors that can lead to extreme satisfaction in an organisation.

The issue of motivating employees so that work performance can be guaranteed is a great challenge to organisation today. Many organisations engage in planning and implementing of reward schemes with the belief that the rewards will bring desired change in employee motivation (Woodruffe, 2006). Organisations assume that by offering these kinds of incentives, they will encourage employees and result to improved work performance.

However, drawing the link between incentives and motivation of employees is a very complex thing to study (Woodruffe, 2006). The underlying question is – Can any substantial gain be achieved by pursuing incentives and rewards as the only way of motivating the employees.

Though incentives stimulate employees to greater job action, it in itself cannot completely satisfy an individual. Apart from incentives and monetary rewards, there are other stimuli of motivation and performance. Employees may also be motivated by recognition or rather praise from the management, job satisfaction and security, job promotion or other accomplishments (Woodruffe, 2006).

Praise as a motivator can play a crucial role in the overall motivation of an individual or group. In his article “Motivation: Try praise”, Nelson (1996) argued that praise could be a powerful tool in staff motivation. Nelson (1996) presented different ways in which the management can praise employees within the organisation.

Managers should prioritise people by attending to their wellbeing to enhance organisational performance. Nelson presented a scenario where a manager developed a habit of praising the employees on a weekly basis by close observance. The manager made a list of employees who had outstanding achievements during the week and praised them. This resulted to employee motivation (Nelson, 1996).

Organisations can also motivate employees through groups. Alternatively, the managers can also create a “wall of fame” as a way of putting across organisation appreciations to the staff for their achievements. According to Nelson, organisations can also have scrapbooks in which employee teams are recognized by their performances and accomplishments. This will ultimately result to employee motivation (Nelson, 1996).

Mariotti (1997) in his article “The power of praise” reveals that praise is the most important form of compensation that management can give to its employees. In his argument, Mariotti discussed that businesses in the modern world face many difficulties and the best way of motivating its workforces is by praise that does not require any budgetary allocation.

Mariotti (1997) recognized that a highly motivated staff working together with energy and enthusiasm could be reinforced to work even harder through praise (Mariotti, 1997). From his experience with workers working for long hours, Mariotti (1997) revealed that praise is important in motivating groups of employees.

Mariotti met a group of demotivated workers and said “thanks” to them. This came as a surprise to the workers who had not received any appreciation message for a long time from the company management. From a simple word, thanks, the worker feel appreciated (Mariotti 1997).

According to Wiscombe (2002), majority companies cannot sustain the cash incentives as motivating factors to their employees. Wiscombe is of the idea that praise and recognition are cost-effective ways of motivating employees. Saying a word as “Good Job” to an employee is valuable in boosting employee morale hence increasing productivity (Wiscombe, 2002).

Milne (2007) revealed that research carried out by Cameron and Pierce indicated that different rewards have different impacts on employee motivation. The study found out that praise or positive feedbacks leads to improved employee interest and work performance (Milne, 2007).

Milne stated that, salaries motivate people to work. However, other factors keep workers on jobs. Milne recognized that paying attention to employees and thanking them for their job achievement could not be underestimated. She was of the opinion that the simple verbal word of praise to employees is fundamentally powerful in motivating workers. Praise in this context plays an important role in the workers having a sense of self-accomplishment which in turn makes them work extra hard towards achieving the set goals (Milne, 2007).

Praise is also inevitable in cultivating morale in students. According to Cook (2003), praise as an intrinsic factor is very important in the overall performance of students in a learning setup. Cook (2003) opined that praise is essential enabling students develop pride in their own accomplishments. Praise leaves students with high self-esteem, confidence, and self-enjoyment. This can only be achieved when both parents and teachers applause students academic achievements (Cook, 2003).

In his journal article, Alexander (1998) gives ten low-cost strategies that employers can use to keep workers happy. Alexander acknowledges that besides the use monetary incentives as ways of motivating the workforce, employers can simply praise the employees for the job well done.

Alexander presents an example of managers who have used praise as a motivational tool. One manager agrees that employees need to be acknowledged, “For having the right demeanour, answers, work process, and practices. Another manager also acknowledges the importance of praise by saying: “praise is always good as long as it is not overdone” (Alexander, 1998, p.1).

However, praise as a motivating factor has its own counterpoints (Robbins, 2009). Praise may turn out to be paradoxical when rottenly used. Furthermore, praise by managers whom employees work hard to appease may be of no consequence. An employee may work hard to appease the manager not because he or she is motivated by the praise from the senior.

Sometimes praise may not be genuine from the person giving it. By falsely giving praise to the employee and yet they do not need it may breed narcissism. Flattery praise by the managers seeking to appease employees tends to be worthless. Employees fail to be motivated by such praise (Robbins, 2009).

Sometimes praise may be aggressive and may sound as sarcasm to employees being praised. In the true sense, praise may mean trying to keep the workers in the same position. Employees may interpret the praise to mean the management is out to ensure that employees deserve not to be promoted. In such a circumstance, praise leads to low morale and low motivation of workers (Changing Minds, 2012).

The systematic model of organisational behaviour manager must be compassionate and sensitive to the various needs of the workforce. Employees respond to these by embracing effectiveness in the performance of their duties. However, praise if not properly handled by the managers may be detrimental to group performance.

According to Miller (n.d.), praising a few employees within a team may create problems. Miller is of the opinion that managers who publicly praise one employee to motivate others are likely to cause more problems. This praise makes employees sense an element of favouritism that can lead to low morale of other employees (Miller, n.d.).


Praise as intrinsic factors is important in influencing the behaviour of employees at the workplace. Praise extremely contributes to the satisfaction of self-esteem needs of individuals at work. Therefore, when creating organisational behaviour models praise should not be ignored by the manager.

Praise is properly utilized has a positive impact on employee productivity, organisation citizenship behaviour, and job satisfaction of the employees. Furthermore, it helps reduce deviant behaviour of employees at the workplace, turnover and the level of absenteeism.

Reference List

Alexander, S 1998, “Keeping workers happy”, Infoworld, vol. 20, no. 50, 91.

Changing Minds 2012, . Web.

Cook, J 2003, “Motivating through Extrinsic and Intrinsic Rewards”, American Music Teacher, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 41-42.

Herzberg, F, Mausner, B & Snyderman, BB 2005, The motivation to work, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick.

Mariotti, J 1997, “The power of praise”, Industry Week/IW, vol. 246, no. 20, p.15.

Miller, M n.d., Motivating Through praise. Web.

Milne, P 2007, “Motivation, incentives and organisational culture”, Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 28 – 38.

Nelson, B 1996, . Inc.Web.

Phillips, J & Gully, SM 2012, Organizational behaviour: tools for success, South-Western Cengage Learning: Mason, OH.

Robbins, SP 2009, Organizational behaviour: Global and Southern African perspectives, Pearson Education, South Africa, Cape Town.

Wiscombe, J 2002, “Rewards Get Results”, Workforce, vol. 81, no.4, p. 42.

Woodruffe, C 2006, “The crucial importance of employee engagement”, Human Resource Management International Digest, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 3 – 5.

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