Motivation of Workers in the Public Sectors

Workers face different challenges in their course of duty.

The challenges range from poor pay, poor working conditions, stressing bosses, job insecurity and ambiguous roles and responsibilities. These challenges are even worse in the public sector where there is no much competition. Policies are not friendly to worker as the policy makers become self with every day, which goes by. The result of this poor playing ground has been migration of labor to the private sector where salaries are more competitive and working conditions are better. Despite the public sector having been faced by the challenge of labor movement, it is yet to learn from its mistakes. Many scholars and researchers have come forth to find out what specific factors that motivate workers especially in the public sector.

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Many of the researchers have put forth theories some of which have stood the test of time and hence are used in explaining some of those factors that influence workers’ productivity. This paper reviews some of those theories and their implications to worker productivity.One of the celebrated theories, which tried explaining the sources of worker motivation, is the Hawthorne effect (Macefield, 2007). This was an experiment in Chicago, which was trying to find out the effects of environmental changes to the productivity of workers. The specific factor considered was levels of lighting in the workshop.

Workers exposed to different levels of lighting increased their productivity over time. The control group, which was exposed to the same level of lighting, also increased their productivity. The conclusion from this was that environmental factors did not influence productivity of the workers. The puzzling point was, there must have been some other motivation. According to Mayo (1933), the motivation was the fact that the workers were being studied and hence they were more artificial than natural compared to the other days.

This made them work extra ordinarily hard due to the attention they were receiving (Mayo, 1933). The research team realized that the daily operations of the workers were monotonous, they would rarely interact with the top management and external experts, and so the conditions of the experiment were very unusual to them. Mayo argued that they responded to this unusual occurrence by making extra effort irrespective of what the environmental conditions were. Consequently, there was a general increase in their productivity. From this theory, the general conclusion is that individuals are motivated by the fact that they are given attention. The attention can take the form of study, seminars; focus discussion groups, interviews, rewards among other form of arrangements that could make the workers feel that they recognized.

This way they will put extra effort to appear the best by the end of the activity. The cumulative effect will be increased productivity. Governments should organize for forums more often to motivate their workers. It could be expensive because most of the activities could be costly for instance rewards the cost of the forums should be evaluated against the benefits enjoyed from the increased productivity.Another theory, which attempted to analyze worker motivation, is the self-determination theory. This theory was assessing both the intrinsic and the extrinsic factors that motivate workers.

Intrinsic motivation involves people undertaking some activities because they find it interesting and derive some satisfaction from them whereas the extrinsic motivation involve people undertaking given activities in-order to gain some external benefits for instance pay rise, promotions among other rewards.Lyman & Porter (1968) found out that structuring the operations in such a way that they combine both the extrinsic and the intrinsic motivating factors result to effective performance and total job satisfaction. Organizations should develop a strong identity to act as a form of the intrinsic motivation as workers will be proud to be associated with the organization and also reward workers as per their performance through better pay and promotions among other recognitions as the extrinsic motivation. The combination results to a determined person in meeting the organization’s set objectives ‘self determination theory’. The intrinsic motivation is said to be autonomous and hence sustainable.

It is also cheap to achieve because it’s the workers who find doing what they do interesting and satisfying. Extrinsic motivation is difficult to achieve and once achieved its not easy to sustain for the workers do not necessarily find what they do interesting and probably do not get any satisfaction from the activities but they are forced by the expected rewards to motivate themselves. This kind of motivation is said to be externally controlled and autonomy is minimum.Locke and Latham in 1990 came up with the goal setting theory. According to this theory, individuals will be motivated by the goals they have set themselves (Locke , 1990).

They will work hard to achieve them for they are the ones who set them. On achieving them, they tend to set more challenging goals to achieve. On achieving those goals, they get satisfaction and have a feeling that they are achievers. This theory was reinforced by the Bundara self-efficacy theory, which argues that individuals will be interested more on those things they are good at (Bandura, 1986). Bandura gave an example of a student who will tend to better the subject they are good at leaving the ones they are not good at to become even worse. Bandura did not leave at that but gave a remedy to this problem.

He suggested that people should set reasonable goals and try as much as possible to attain them. In case they do not attain such set goals, they should not over punish themselves but they should instead appreciate what they have already achieved and set some other achievable goals (Bandura, 1986). Many studies have indicated that autonomous motivation (i.e., intrinsic motivation and integrated extrinsic motivation) maximizes heuristic performance, citizenship, trust, commitment and satisfaction all, which are a prerequisite to a successful organization.Frederick Herzberg also did some work on motivation to establish what factors caused worker satisfaction as well as dissatisfaction and he expressed his findings using the two factors Herzberg theory.

His research used interview where he asked workers on what pleased and displeased them during their daily operations. Herzberg found out that those factors, which caused satisfaction, were very different (motivators) from those, which were displeasing (Lyman& Porter, 1990). He then coined the term motivation-hygiene theory. He referred to the satisfiers as the motivators and the dissatisfiers as hygiene meaning they are the factors that should kept in check and cleaned up to avoid dissatisfaction (Amabile, DeJong& Lepper, 1976). He developed a table of six motivators and six demotivators.

The motivators include; Achievement, recognition, the job, responsibility, advancement and growth whereas the demotivators included; poor policy, supervision, worker/boss relationship, work conditions, salary and worker/peer relationship. The implication of this theory to any management is that individuals should be exposed to challenging responsibilities depending on their capacity. If an organization cannot provide such a challenging environment for a worker then it should consider employing a worker of lower capacity.Psychological contracts are also a major motivation to staff. Psychological contract is the unspoken agreement between an organization and its employee(s).

It involves the organization expects the employee to deliver and at the same time what the job holder expects as the reward for instance in-terms of salary and other allowances (Hacker, 1994). It is informal and it starts during recruitment. Over promising by the organization or under delivering by the employee can be a major source demotivation among the workforce. Appropriate psychological contract will mean the employee is satisfied, has a positive attitude towards the organization, is committed, and will be loyal to the organization. According to this theory, the employer should factor both the transactional as well as the relational parts of the contract.

The transactional part will touch on the tangibles for instance salary and allowances. The relational will more on the emotional and the social exchange between the two parties e.g. confidence and allegiance. For the psychological contract to be effective and productive, the employer should be fair.

The employee should meet the organization’s objectives (Anderson, N. & Schalk, R. 1998). The implication of this concept is that for the public sector to be effective and efficient the employer should go beyond the physical motivators like salary to take care of the emotional expectations of the employee.McClelland developed a theory referred to as the needs motivation theory.

He classified needs into three; need for achievement, need for power and need for affiliation. These requirements differ with people. The biggest challenge associated with needs is knowing what need is important than the other for if one can establish this importance it is easy to know how to influence the person involved. McClelland argued that individuals need is highly influence by the environment and a person will be highly motivated if the environment can provide a good mix of the needs (Frese & Sabini, 1991). Need for affiliation is the need for friendship.

Human beings are social beings and they can perform best when treated as so. They will want to feel liked and accepted by the rest. The management needs to understand such people if they are there in the organization. Such people are likely to be team players and will give their best when working as a group. However, this need can interfere with the performance especially of the managers. If a manager has a high affiliation need, they promote decisions that will only enhance their relationship with their juniors forgetting the organization’s objectivesNeeds for power is the approach.

Individuals can have need for personal power. This is undesirable for such people often misuse that power. They just want to feel they have it. Whether they are performers is none of their business. Others can have institutional power need.

This kind of power is desirable in an organization. The people with this kind of power intend to drive their group towards achieving the objectives of the organization they work for. These kinds of people should be encouraged and given an opportunity to exercise that power. Through such power, they can give the organization the best. The power of achievement is basically, the power to excel.

People after they achieve this power, set high goals, and work themselves to achieving them. At this point, the theory is backed by Bandura’s self-efficacy theory where he argues that the goals must be. For realistic goals, their achievement is dependent on his personal skill and effort. These kind of people are loners. They tend to work alone or with a small group of high performers.

The implication of this theory is that individuals are motivated by the needs they have (Wilson, 1989). They want to work towards ensuring that they meet those needs. The public sector should ensure that they understand their staff, identify which need is important to them and provide such an environment to offer that need. Where it is difficult to identify the needs, the sector should develop a mix, which will take care of the three needs because they are sometimes mutually exclusive.The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs approach has also been used to explain why people are motivated to keep on working. According to Maslow, a person is motivated to work in-order to meet the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

The three basic needs are basically for survival purposes. Once achieved, the individual does not stop working. Instead, they develop other needs. Now that the individual has clothes and a house, they wish to see the following day and hence need some security. They open bank accounts to save their money among other valuables.

They will work towards attaining some security. On achieving security, they want to love and to be loved. They want to have a feeling of belonging. At this point human beings become social beings. They marry, get married, and develop all sorts of social relationship. According to Maslow it is not possible to completely go up the ladder.

There is always a step higher to climb. The highest level of self-actualization and realization may not be achievable. Individuals will ever work to achieve this level but they always do not. This will keep them motivated to work for another day to see the near they can go to that level. The implication is that the public sector should provide an environment in which its workers can achieve in a systematic way the lower level needs and slowly go up the ladder.

The needs should be aligned to match the organizational needs which are mostly the organizational objectives. This way as the individuals strive to meet their needs, they will meet the organizational objectives.John Adams in 1960 developed the equity motivation theory (Lyman & Porter, 1968). Adams argued that people seek a balance of what they put into their jobs and what they get in return. Adams called this inputs and outputs and argued that they need to balance. People form their own perceptions on how measure the balance.

This is mostly determined by their own expectations from the job they are doing compared against referents for instance friends colleagues and other people of similar level in-terms of job title, education and backgrounds. Inputs in any organization include; effort, loyalty, hard work, commitment, skill ability, adaptability, flexibility, tolerance, determination, enthusiasm, trusts to the superiors, support of colleagues and subordinates and personal sacrifice (Wilson, 1989. Workers want to feel that there is a fair balance between those mentioned inputs and the expected outputs. The outputs are financial rewards; salary, expenses, perks, benefits, pension arrangement, bonuses and commissions. Intangibles are part of these outputs for instance recognition, reputation, praise and thanks, interest, responsibility, stimulus, travel, training, development, sense of achievement, advancement and promotion (Amabile, DeJong, & Lepper,1976).

A balance between the inputs and the outputs will motivate the worker e.g. if a workers expectation is an increment in their rewarded specific goal set, the organization should recognize that effort and reward it accordingly. By increasing the workers pay or promoting the person will motivate him or her more and also motivate others who also develop expectations. The result would be forward backward linkages improving the productivity of the organization. If the workers feel that, their efforts (inputs) are fairly and adequately outputs, then the workers are happy and will be motivated to work.

If the feeling is that the inputs outweigh the outputs, then the workers become demotivated in relation to their job and employer. People will respond to this kind of feeling in different ways. Some people will reduce their efforts towards the organization; others become difficult people to work with, while others can become interruptive. The sector should be on high alert to identify these behaviors. On spotting them, the first step should be establishing the cause of such behavior and finding out where the disparity is between the inputs and the outputs. Some management go wrong when they just rush to fire workers before establishing where exactly the problem is.

They recruit others but still the problem persists. Instead, they involve the workers in solving the problemWork done by some researchers in 2006 had quite a number of conclusions as indicated on their abstract. Josse and Rober were working against a stereotype that public workers are lazy. They said was a relative argument. If the sector can verify individual efforts, then the lazy will not survive in the public sector. The danger is when the sector does not have a way of verifying individual efforts.

The lazy will find the sector attractive and they will crowd even the hardworking hence the generalization that the public sector is for the lazy. Though the reputation that public workers are lazy (Wilson, 1989) is not taken wholly, it has been associated with lack of incentives. The public sector is always accused of lack of incentives or even if they are there, they are inadequate. As a result, the sector attracts only those who are most averse to exerting effort. For a long time now, the literature has identified civil servants as pursuing their narrow self-interest, usually being at odds with the interest of society (Wilson, 1989).

The research found out interesting results. Even with the low incentives some civil servants defied the stereotype and were highly motivated to providing service to the public. Civil servants can be classified into three as regular, lazy, and dedicated. “Lazy workers have higher cost of effort in both the private and the public sector. Dedicated workers are endowed with a public service motivation and, therefore, to some extent enjoy exerting effort in a public sector job” (Locke & Latham, 1990. p.

7). The public service motivation is designed in such a way that it gives the government monopoly power. It is the in interest of a cost minimizing government to recruit in addition to dedicated workers lazy workers and to provide them with weaker incentives.The reason for such a move by the government is public goods at the minimum cost possible. If the sector cannot verify effort, the sector should hire lazy workers, the reason being that for it will give them poor salaries and because they know, they evade duty then the chances of them complaining will be low. The challenge of doing this is the fact that the public will suffer due to poor services.

If the sector can verify the individual effort then it can hire dedicated workers who will place the public sector in line with the private sector where operations are highly competitive. The conclusion by some researchers that workers in the public sector are generally lazy and the public sector always attracts the lazy should not be held true (Bandura, 1986). This is because the public and the private sectors face different circumstances. The private sector is making profit so they can afford to pay hefty allowances for as long as they are meeting their financial expectations. The case in very different in the public sector where the need is provide public goods and services for instance good roads, water and health services. The government does not make profits and it would strive to provide those goods and services at the lowest costs.

The conclusion is that the government should be as rational as possible and sometimes the rationality will depend on the prevailing circumstances. If the government can still provide a good level of public goods with the lazy, then it may be efficient using them for the cost maintaining them is also low.Cognitive evaluation theory suggested that external factors especially tangible factors, deadlines, surveillance, and evaluations tend to diminish feelings of autonomy and undermine intrinsic motivation (Amabile, DeJong, & Lepper, 1976). Cognitive evaluation theory also suggested that feeling of competence and autonomy enhanced intrinsic motivation (Bandura, 1986). Some of the findings of this theory is, if extrinsic motivators were given in depended of the task or when the incentives were not anticipated then extrinsic rewards did not undermine intrinsic motivation (Amabile, DeJong, & Lepper, 1976). When rewards were contingent on high quality performance and the interpersonal context was supportive rather than pressuring, tangible rewards enhanced intrinsic motivation relative to a comparison condition with no rewards and no feedback.

Notably, however, these performance-contingent rewards did lead to lower intrinsic motivation than a control group that got positive feedback comparable to that conveyed by the rewards. The implication of this theory is that the government should ensure that both the extrinsic and the intrinsic motivators are well integrated. The reason is that the extrinsic motivators are costly to sustain and they may be withdrawn at some point. Once withdrawn the affected may be demotivated to performing their duties. As a result, the external motivators should be designed in such a way that they enhance the intrinsic motivators.

The intrinsic motivators are from within the person and make the person interested in doing what they do it’s easy and sustainable.General causality orientation is also an approach that has been used to explain peoples’ motivations. General causality orientation identifies the differences in people’s orientations toward the initiation and regulation of their behavior. The theory indexes the degree to which people are autonomy oriented, control oriented, and impersonally oriented. Autonomy orientation is positively related to self-actualization, self-esteem, ego development, integration in personality, and satisfying interpersonal relationships while control orientation is associated with public self-consciousness. The Type A behavior pattern, defensive functioning, and placing high importance on pay and other extrinsic motivators and lastly the impersonal orientation is related to external locus of control i.

e. the belief that one cannot control outcomes and to self-derogation and depression. Working conditions should be organized in such a way that individuals are oriented in a direction to achieving the organizational objectives.For the past quarter century a number of scholars working primarily in Germany have used action theory to examine motivation in work organizations as well as other settings. The theory used the concept of goals and emphasizes as the mechanisms that keep people effectively focused on goal-directed action (Frese & Sabini, 1991; Hacker, 1994).

According to the theory, maximum motivation and action is as a result of considerable decision latitude, which allows workers to set their own goals. This approach suggests that control over one’s behavior combined with optimal complexity of the tasks involved and without undue complicatedness, leads to optimal performance and well-being. The public sector needs to give its workers some level of autonomy to decide on what is best for their job. The feeling of being in-charge will motivate them to prove that they are truly in-charge. Consequence, workers will feel stimulated. This is opposed to when the management takes control of all the responsibility of allocating roles and puts pressure on the workers to meet already set goals.

The danger is that the people will not view the goals as genuine but as forced. They may start developing rebellious behavior for the sake of opposing the administration. Own set goals are easy to meet even when they are touch to achieve.Kanfer’s task-specific motivation used a similar approach close to the action theory. It uses the interaction of motivation and individual differences in abilities as a primary basis for predicting work performance.

Motivation is characterized in terms of two cognitive resource allocation processes, referred to as distal and proximal. Distal factors concern mechanisms such as the utility to the person of doing the task and the perceived instrumentality of expending effort for effective performance. When the target activities are relatively complex and require sustained effort, proximal factors such as self-monitoring and self-regulation are critical for performance and competence development. According to this theory, different individuals have abilities to perform different tasks to different levels of perfection. These different abilities should be acknowledged and tasks allocated depending on the person’s ability. Human beings are content with doing what they are excellent at.

They should be let to choose what they are good at and perform. Government should promote specialization along lines of professionalism.