Sunday, March 31, 2013

Different Forms of Motivation

written by: Sonia Zafar
There are many different ways to motivate employees, and everyone is motivated in a different way. Some may be motivated by compensation, and some employees are motivated simply by the feeling of self-achievement. In order to become a successful company, it is important to understand what motivates employees. It is necessary to know what encourages employees in order to increase performance. When motivation is increased, job satisfaction is also increased.
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic
There are two different types of rewards that employees can gain from high job performance. One type of reward is extrinsic, and the other is intrinsic. Extrinsic rewards are tangible rewards such as bonuses, pay raises, and benefits. Rewards like this are controlled by others such as managers deciding whether an employee deserves a pay raise or not. Intrinsic rewards are psychological, and employees reward themselves psychologically when they perform well. Intrinsic rewards have been more common in recent times because of the variation of work in today’s world. “Extrinsic rewards played a dominant role in earlier eras, when work was generally more routine and bureaucratic, and when complying with rules and procedures was paramount. This work offered workers few intrinsic rewards, so that extrinsic rewards were often the only motivational tools available to organizations” (Thomas, 2009). Extrinsic rewards are still a very important consideration in whether prospective employees to accept a job. Intrinsic rewards may not always be enough to motivate workers.
One of the most common motivators is career advancement. The ability to work one’s way up the company’s ladder plays a very important role in how motivated the employee can be. This requires employers to be willing to open doors of opportunity for their employees so they can advance in their careers (Llopis, 2012). Another common idea that motivates people is job security. Those who have families want a stable future so they are motivated to do their best in order to obtain that stability from their employer.
In today’s world, many people are determined to create an impact in society. They want to contribute by using their skills and knowledge to help their company succeed. Having an impact on others and the company is a major intrinsic reward that employees give themselves. Last but not least, happiness is one of the most important motivations an employee can use in order to perform well. Happiness gives people higher self-esteem which in turn makes them better at their job. It is very common for people to dislike their jobs, which leads them to slacking off and not putting in all the effort they can. Those who are satisfied with their jobs, are motivated to work and enjoy being in the workplace environment every day. As an employer, it is very important to make sure that employees are satisfied with their job. If they are not satisfied, the employer should take into consideration what he or she can do to help.  

Levels of Intrinsic Rewards
Professor Walter Tymon developed the levels of the four intrinsic rewards; sense of meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress. Each reward is broken down into three levels. People who obtain the high range scores experience all four intrinsic rewards most often, which means these rewards are the most highly motivating for those individuals.  The middle range scores experience the intrinsic rewards moderately. An example of this would be a worker who believes that they are performing well but not as well as they would like to perform. They feel satisfaction, but they are less satisfied than they would like to be. Those who score low range scores are not satisfied at work. They believe that the work they do is pointless and meaningless and that they are not capable of influencing decisions. Feelings like this tend to drain workers of their energy and lead them to be resentful about their jobs (Thomas, 2009).
PBS Interview
DANIEL PINK: We tend to think that the way you get people to perform at a high level is, you reward what you want and punish what you don't want, carrot and stick. If you do this, then you get that.
That turns out, the science says, to be an extraordinarily effective way of motivating people for those routine tasks, simple, straightforward, where there's a right answer. They end up being a terrible form for motivating people to do creative conceptual tasks.
PAUL SOLMAN: How does the science show this?

DANIEL PINK: If you offer me a reward, $500 reward, you have my attention, absolutely. A contingent reward gets you to focus like this, narrow vision. If the answer is right in front of you, that's terrific. You race a lot faster. But if you have this kind of vision for a creative conceptual problem, you're going to blow it. You're not going to do anything good.
Solman, P. (2010, April 15). Personal interview with D. Pink

Llopis, G. (2012, June 04). The top 9 things that ultimately motivate employees to achieve. Retrieved from 
Pink, D. (2010, April 15). Interview by P SOLMAN [Web Based Recording]. What drives motivation in the modern workplace?., Retrieved from
Thomas, K. (2009, December). The four intrinsic rewards that drive employee engagement . Retrieved from

Types of Stressors

Written By: Michael Kurtagh
Types of Stressors
One of the major individual factors that influence job performance is stress.  Stress is a major issue in the workplace, and managers should do all that they can to solve it because “stressful work demands are thought to reduce employee satisfaction, commitment, and retention.” (Lepine, Lepine & Podsakoff, 2007, p.438)  This blog post will focus on identifying some of the major stressors one experiences in a work environment.   The major workplace stressors are broken down into two categories, hindrance stressors and challenge stressors.  Hindrance stressors are stressful demands that are viewed as roadblocks to achieving goals and accomplishments.  Challenge stressors are stressful demands that are viewed as potential learning and growth experiences.  These two categories are then often split into work and non-work stressors.

Hindrance Stressors:
When comparing the two types of stressors, hindrance stressors can be considered the worst of the two.  While both types can be exhausting and difficult for the person experiencing them, challenge stressors at least offer the potential for personal growth.  Hindrance stressors on the other hand are simply obstacles to the person accomplishing whatever it is they are trying to do.  Because they have no redeeming qualities like challenge stressors, hindrance stressors can be much more of a burden on a person’s work performance. 

Work Related Hindrance Stressors:
As mentioned before, stressors can be further broken down into work and non-work categories.  Work related stressors are those that are directly related to your work.  One type of work related hindrance stressor is role conflict.  Role conflict is the issues that arise when there is differing expectations of the work you are expected to do.  For example, if you’re assigned a task that is measured by both speed and quality, it will be difficult to deliver on both measurements.  If you focus on quickly completing the task, the quality may suffer or vice versa.  This conflict of expectations would be stressful for most everyone.  Another type of work related hindrance stressor is role ambiguity.  Role ambiguity is when a worker is assigned a role with little direction and/or the way their performance in that role will be measure is also unclear.  New employees often suffer this kind of stress because they may not be provided sufficient training or information regarding the job they have been given.  Even if an employee is provided with proper amounts of information about the role they have, they may still suffer stress from role ambiguity if they are unsure how their performance will be graded in that role.  Role overload is when a person is asked to fill too many roles and cannot perform all or some of the roles effectively.  The last work related hindrance stressor is daily hassles.  These are simply any little obstacles that get in the way of completing your main goals and objectives.  This could be things like having to sit through unnecessary meetings or having to complete paperwork.      

Non-Work Related Hindrance Stressors:
Non-work related stressors are events that occur outside of your job but cause stress at work.  One type of non-work related hindrance stressor is work-family conflict.  Work-family conflict is when a family role interferes with a work role, damaging the person’s ability to fulfill those roles.  This conflict can go both ways, with problems at home effecting work performance or problems at work affecting an employee’s family life.  An example would be a big argument with a spouse causing a person to be less attentive and focused on their work.  Another non-work related hindrance stressor is negative life events.  Negative life events are any serious events that cause stress in all facets of the person’s life.  Things like the death of a spouse or being diagnosed with a serious illness will cause a great deal of stress for a person and it can reflect in their work.  The last type of non-work related hindrance stressor is financial uncertainty.  This is when a person is uncertain of or is concerned about their financial stability.      

Challenge Stressors: 
While challenge stressors can be just as difficult as hindrance stressors to cope with, they offer the potential for personal growth.  By having some redeeming value, challenge stressors can often be viewed as almost being positive.  Research states that “learners who experience stress associated with high workload and difficult learning content will exert more energy trying to learn because they believe that by doing so they will eventually come to understand and master the material.” (Jackson, Lepine & Lepine, 2004, p. 885)  A completely stress free environment sounds very nice, but some stress can be good if it helps to motivate a person and bring about their best work.  While hindrance stressors may be nothing but a nuisance, challenge stressors can help to bring out the best of a worker.

Work Related Challenge Stressors:
Like hindrance stressors, challenge stressors are broken down into work and non-work related categories.  One work related stressor is time pressure.  Time pressure is when a person feels that the amount of time they are being given to complete task isn't enough.  While this situation can be and is extremely stressful, the strict time constraints can often cause a person to produce their best and most efficient work.  Having no deadline may result in much less stress, but it can also result in much less efficient and productive work.  Time pressure can be too great though, as evidenced by a Canadian study that showed workers identified time pressure as one of the greatest contributors of stress (Williams, 2003).  Another type of work related challenge stressor is work complexity.  Work complexity is when an employee is tasked with something that they believe is beyond their knowledge or ability.  This can be incredibly stressful but also very rewarding.  By placing the worker outside their comfort zone they can grow a great deal and feel lots of satisfaction if they are successful.  The last work related challenge stressor is work responsibility.  Work responsibility is the scope and importance someone’s job is relative to the responsibility they have to others.  If the failure or success of a task only impacts a few people, the stress of that task will be a lot less.  If many people are depending on the successful competition of the task, the task will be much more stressful.  This added stress isn't necessarily bad though, as it can motivate and inspire the person to give their best effort so that they don’t fail all those counting on them.

Non-Work Related Challenge Stressors:
One type of non-work related challenge stressor is family time demands.  Family time demands is the time a person has to commit to familial activities and responsibilities.  What makes this different than family-work conflict is that family time demands aren't necessarily negative.  Having to attend a child’s school event may create stress if it conflicts with work, but there’s no negative aspect.  Another type of non-work related challenge stressor is personal development.  Personal development is any actions being taken by an individual to better themselves.  This could be things like volunteer work or music lessons.  Having to commit time to these events may cause stress, but they result in positive outcomes.  The final non-work related challenge stressor is positive life events.  This could be things like pregnancy or marriage.  While these events can cause a great deal of stress, their positive nature means it’s much easier to deal with.

            Being able to understand and identify the major types of stressors is an important skill for both employees and employers.  By understanding the types of stressors, an employee can better anticipate stressful situations and prepare themselves to deal with it.  They can also differentiate between challenge and hindrance stressors which would allow them to better manage their stress.  Knowing that situations that produce challenge stress are beneficial would help an employee be less frustrated because they understand that there is a reward for experiencing that stress.  An employer can benefit a great deal by knowing the types of stressors because they can better understand what their employees may be experiencing.  If the employer can identify what may cause hindrance stress they can attempt to remedy those situations before employees are affected.  Overall, stress is a major influence on the an individual’s job performance and understanding the major types of stressors is an important step in dealing with stress. 

LePine, J. A., LePine, M. A., & Saul, J. R. (2007). Relationships among work and non-work challenge and hindrance stressors and non-work and work criteria: A model of cross-domain stressor effects. (pp. 35-72). US: Elsevier Science/JAI Press. Retrieved from Proquest.

LePine, J. A., LePine, M. A., & Jackson, C. L. (2004). Challenge and hindrance stress: Relationships with exhaustion, motivation to learn, and learning performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(5), 883-891. Retrieved from Proquest.

Williams, C. (2003). Sources of workplace stress. Perspectives on Labour and Income, 15(3), 0-n/a. Retrieved from Proquest.


Goal-Setting Theory

Written by: Bryan Baines

The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business--or almost anywhere else for that matter” (Lee Iacocca). As one of the most prolific businessmen in the world, Lee Iacocca was an advocate of setting goals. He practiced what he preached when he was working at Ford and also when he was president and CEO at Chrysler. Goals are often credited for successes, and the lack of goals is often blamed for failures. The word is used so much that the meaning loses its intended impact. A goal is the difference between victory and defeat in sports; it’s a benchmark for dreamers and achievers; or it can be the finish line for others. While a goal may seem like an overused term, its meaning should not be diluted in our lives. Goal setting is one of the most important motivators that we utilize in our every day lives.
                  Goal setting is often applied in the workplace. When employees are given assignments, they decide how much effort they will give for the assignment and what their desired outcome will be as a result of that effort. According to the textbook, the theory of goal setting “views goals as the primary drivers of the intensity and persistence of effort.” In other words, goals are the motivator behind our performance. The text also goes on to describe how specific and difficult goals actually produce better results from workers than simple goals or even no goals at all. The argument being that if people have a specific benchmark they need to reach – for example, a report that needs to be done by 2:30 on Wednesday – they will know exactly how much effort they will have to give to achieve the desired results. They could even use that deadline as a motivator and try harder to get it done ahead of schedule.
                  Setting goals should not be limited to only work tasks. Goals can be a great way to improve our lives on many different fronts. In an edition of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham published the article “New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory” in which they describe 4 mechanisms of the relationship between goals and performance. “High goals lead to greater effort than do easy goals…Goals direct attention towards goal-relevant actions at the expense of non-relevant actions…Goal effects depend on having the requisite task knowledge and skill…And goals may motivate one to use one’s existing ability or to ‘pull’ stored task-relevant knowledge into awareness.” Locke and Latham explain that goals can be the motivating force that causes people to want to perform better and, if they don’t have the required knowledge, they may seek to obtain the required knowledge. They also explain that goals along with self-efficacy often enlist the effects of other motivators like autonomy, feedback and personality traits.
                  Having the wrong focus when setting goals can have worse effects than not having goals set at all. Making a goal looking only from the business perspective can cause unwanted behaviors to attain the goal. Goal setting needs to be a result of a balance between the business perspective (efficiency, accuracy) and the human psychological perspective (realistic deadlines and workload). The end result is what Bill Lycette and John Herniman are calling the new goal-setting theory. Goals are strongly linked to business metrics, which is ideally: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed (SMART). Lycette and Herniman are saying that SMART is not adequate to produce the best results. The say that to achieve superior results, metrics also need “to have a single owner who takes accountability for the metric, be clearly articulated in an easy to understand and reusable format, and be applicable to all levels of the organization (Lycette & Herniman, 2008).” Their new dynamics help address the human psychological aspect of goal setting and business metrics in addition to the already-established metric model. These new characteristics help to make the employees feel equal and autonomous in the workplace. By having an equal goal model from top to bottom of an organization will help the social dynamic in the business as well.
                  While setting goals is often an effective method of optimizing productivity, some are saying that setting too many goals becomes a problem. Since businesses rapidly adopted the idea of goal setting, it quickly escalated into more. Professor Schweitzer, who wrote “Goals Gone Wild” which was published in the journal Academy of Management Prospectives stated that “The proponents of goals focused on the benefits of the goals, not the harm, and too many businesses went too far, saying ‘Here’s what we want you to accomplish,’ and implicitly saying, ‘We don’t care how you got there’ (Tugend, 2012).” He was hinting that this was leading into unethical behavior. This brings up the important idea that, if goals are the only way that one’s performance will be measured, what incentive does one have to go above and beyond when their deadline or benchmark is already met? “Besides possibly leading to unethical behavior — a lawyer being told to bill a certain number of hours a week will be tempted to fudge the numbers — too much emphasis on goals can inhibit learning and undermine intrinsic motivation (Tugend, 2012).” Goals are important in the workplace, but they cannot be the only measure people have in order for performance and, more importantly, the quality of their performance to be optimized.


Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2006). New directions in goal-setting theory. Retrieved from .
Lycette, B., & Herniman, J. (2008). New goal-setting theory. Industrial Management, 50(5), 25-30,5. Retrieved from

Tugend, A. (2012, October 05). Experts’ advice to the goal-oriented: Don’t overdo it. . Retrieved from

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Experience of Strain

Jake Harlick

                Strain is defined as the negative consequences associated with stress. It is the physiological, psychological, or behavioral reactions that occur when the body has been placed in a stressful environment for too long. The body has a defense system for dealing with stress which causes more blood to be pumped to the brain and skeletal structure in order to be more alert and durable during the stressful encounter. If the encounter lasts too long the lack of blood going to the rest of the body will begin to result in break downs that can show themselves in the form of the reactions listed above causing exhaustion, irritability, and aches among other things. Physiological strains are those that a person feels physically due to stress. These can include immune system deficiency causing the person to be more susceptible to illness, cardiovascular in the raising of blood pressure and strain on the heart, musculoskeletal causing headaches, tight shoulders and back pain, or gastrointestinal which includes stomachaches and intestinal issues. Following that is Psychological strains which are mental strain that causes people to breakdown from stress, there are many different ways of showing it including depression and anger, all of these symptoms generally refer to burnout condition where the individual does not feel like going on any longer in their work, activity, or in very serious cases their life. Last are behavioral strains where the person acts different than they would on a day to day basis due to the recent stress, this can include substance abuse such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking or just an overall attitude change where they begin to treat others differently and demand things they wouldn’t typically demand.
                Physiological, psychological, and behavioral strains are all very common in the work place. These strains are the end result of different workplace situations on overall employee well-being. If a company is seeing signs of strain all throughout their day to day operations it can be a bad sign of where the organization is heading. This is because as moral decreases and strain increases the productivity and quality of work being put out will decrease more and more causing the entire company to malfunction as a whole. This can turn into a viscous circle if not dealt with properly because if a supervisor comes down on his or her already depleted work force this will only worsen the issue and cause more strain. It is crucial to provide a workplace that makes employees feel comfortable most of the time in order to divert some of the stress that is unnecessary. Keeping some stress is good though such as tight deadlines because it keeps employees accountable, but if work load is unbearable and communication is always negative a company will see all signs of strain appear in the workplace and will suffer accordingly.
                Physiological strain is present in many jobs.  A study was done of the physiological strain of police officers when executing operations on an assignment. Officers were put in suits to protect them from different hazmat type situations and then told to do forced entries and other high intensity police drills. The goal of this study was to help set safety standards for the use of this suit. During the study there were 3 men who were forced to drop out of the drill because of exhaustion. This is an example of physiological strain in the workplace and how it can directly affect job performance. In law enforcement if an officer cannot complete the task because of the physiological strain placed on their body it is both bad for their own health and also bad for the well-being of citizens because the criminals will not be caught (Sam D. Blacker).
                Burnout is one of the most common forms of psychological strain that results in an individual giving up on the cause of the burnout. It can be very common in the workplace and although it may seem that it is the individual who has become burnt out, “burnout is more of a social phenomenon, than an individual one” (Maslach). This is because an individual typically does not get burned out on their own. It is based on many environmental factors that add up to them not feeling like the stress created is worth it anymore. These factors can include unfriendly coworkers, an intolerable boss, or just too heavy of a work load. These all add to the person’s mental health fading to the point where they reach complete exhaustion in relation to the job and choose to move on rather than deal with the physiological strain any longer.
                Behavioral strain is a common result from being over stressed that is the most observable by other people. The signs can be over or under eating, angry outbursts, drug, tobacco, or alcohol use. These behavioral reactions to stress can cause physiological strain on the body In turn making issues grow to unhealthy levels. It is best to control stress and get proper rest when needed to keep the body at a healthy level (Mayo).
                All of this information related to strain relates to class in many ways. Of these is most notably employee well-being and job performance. Companies run on their employees and if an environment has been created where employees are unhappy to the point where it becomes unhealthy, then the company will fail. This becomes management’s responsibility to create a fun environment that still requires employees to be hard workers. If this can be achieved it will benefit the company exponentially because employees will feel more motivated to work and create a good product or service because they truly enjoy their work.
                Taking away from the information gathered on the experience of strain for the human body, it is evident that removing yourself from situations that can hurt you physiologically, psychologically, or behaviorally, is a good practice. Students getting into working America should be conscious to the fact that a job that causes excessive amounts of the three types of strain may not be the best career to stick with and should consider other options. These are good principals to hold in order for a person to create the overall best quality of life for themselves.


Physiological responses of Police Officers during job simulations wearing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear personal protective equipment
Sam D. Blacker, James M. Carter, David M. Wilkinson, Victoria L. Richmond, Mark P. Rayson, Malcolm Peattie
Vol. 56, Iss. 1, 2013

 Job burnout
Maslach C ; Schaufeli WB ; Leiter MP
ANNUAL REVIEW OF PSYCHOLOGY  Volume: 52   Pages: 397-422   10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.397   Published: 2001

Mayo Clinic Staff.