Motivation in the Workplace
Module from SIOP
Workplace Motivation
• Why do people work? Why do other people?
• What motivates you to work harder at work or in
school? What de-motivates you?
• What could your boss or teacher do to get you to work
• How would you use your knowledge of the psychology
of motivation to increase workplace performance?
in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
• Research and Practice in I-O tends not to focus
on biological / physiological theories
• Instead, we tend to construct our research
and interventions around the following
approaches (as well as others):
– Behavioral: Goal Setting
– Cognitive Processes: Decision Making
– Need Satisfaction
Goal Setting
• Setting goals for workplace performance tends to be one of
the most effective motivators
• The most motivating goals are
– Specific
• “Get an average customer satisfaction score of at least 95.5” is better
then “Get high customer satisfaction ratings”
– Difficult but attainable/realistic
• “Get an average customer satisfaction score of at least 95.5” is better
than “Get an average customer satisfaction score of 75.5”
• The effectiveness of goals also depends on
– Commitment to the goal. Employees need to be committed to
achieving the goal
– Feedback. Goals work better when employees can see whether
they’re making progress toward the goal
Cognitive Processes
(Expectancy Theory)
• Behavior such as high job performance is
more likely if employees have positive
perceptions of:
– Valence: How good is what I get if I’m successful at
this task?
– Instrumentality: If I am successful at this task, how
likely is it that I’ll get those outcomes I thought
about above?
– Expectancy: If I try hard, how likely is it that I’ll
actually be able to be successful?
Need Satisfaction
• Employees will work to satisfy their needs / higher
order goals
Survival (e.g., having enough money to live)
Agency (control over one’s environment)
Esteem (being viewed positively)
Affiliation (social relationships)
• Job Characteristics Model
Skill variety (lots of different skills used)
Task identity (‘entire’ unit of work)
Task significance (the job should be important)
Autonomy (choice of how to perform the task)
For More Information…
Diefendorff, J. M., & Chandler, M. M. (2010). Motivating
employees. In S. Zedeck (Ed.), APA Handbook of
Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Vol. 3, pp.
65-135). Washington, DC: American Psychological
Jex, S. M., & Britt, T. W. (2008). Organizational
Psychology: A Scientist-Practitioner Approach (2nd Ed.).
(Chapters 8 & 9). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically
useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-717.

Motivation in the Workplace