The Incentive Theory

The Incentive Theory of Motivation theory was developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in 1911 to explain the application of motivation to optimal task performance. The introduction of this theory led to increased efforts at developing incentive systems for employees, which in turn brought about the use of a number of psychological techniques that are still used today. The Theory of Incentive is most often applied in order to organize human behavior and achieve results on a large scale with little effort. The theory does not work well if individuals are not competitive. This can lead to low morale among workers and can potentially cause high turnover rates, which is the exact opposite of what employers are trying to achieve via this theory.

The Incentive Theory of Motivation involves giving workers praise and rewards for any work done, not merely for completing a task. For example, if I gave you a candy bar for every sentence you wrote in this post, it would spur your motivation to write more sentences. This theory is widely used in management and administration. Moreover, due to the fact that this theory is based on a business structure, it is clear that money plays a large role in the motivation of employees. The first reference to “incentives” as an economic concept was made by Jeremy Bentham. In the 18th century, he pleaded for a minimum wage for workers in order to motivate them to work harder. Since then, many other economists have attempted to explain how reward systems can be used to motivate workers and reduce waste of resources and time. The most common incentive system based on this theory is piecework.

Even though incentive theories are widely used in management and administration to motivate workers, there are some who argue that these theories could be potentially dangerous as they can create unrealistic expectations that employees cannot meet which lead to employee dissatisfaction with their workplace or job. For example, if an employee thinks they will be promoted to a higher position, they may feel obligated to work additional hours because they do not want to disappoint the employer. This can lead to poor quality work and ultimately can be

dangerous if an emergency arises.

Although these theories may seem unfair, the extent of which employees are motivated by this theory depends on their position within the company and in general each worker receives an individual reward that is proportional to their performance level. By giving an incentive for every task completed, managers can try to encourage higher performance from their staff. Although these theories are widely used in management and administration as a method of motivation there are disadvantages as well as advantages. One of the major disadvantages is the inability to motivate employees who require “job enrichment”, which is best explained as providing opportunities for workers to expand their job responsibilities. This theory may also be ineffective depending on the employee’s position within a company. For example, an employee working in an administrative position will not be motivated by this theory as much as someone

working in a managerial position.

“Great work,” “wonderful job,” “keep it up,” “I am very proud of you,” and other phrases are used to compliment the staff. Genuine appreciation inspires employees to work harder. It motivates an employee to work more to receive a compliment. It’s quite satisfying to receive compliments verbally and at the moment. Those given to employees in front of others have a greater impact. However, giving an employee too much verbal praise can have significant drawbacks. Employees who are naturally prone to developing “a large head” as a result of excessive verbal praise may engage in detrimental behavior at work. Those with an egocentric mindset may believe that they are the only ones being rewarded and think they are the best or most valuable employee.

Another disadvantage of lavishing verbal praise on an employee is that it may create a

schism among coworkers if it is limited to just one or two employees. Too much verbal praise can lead to jealousy among employees, especially if there is no justice or equity. If someone favors women or men, or people from one location over another, or if someone is racist. Praise can backfire, making people resentful, nasty, or underperforming. Employee morale suffers as a result of unfairness. Giving too much verbal praise to an employee can also have a negative impact on productivity. An employee who is often assured that she is doing an outstanding job may believe that there is no space for improvement.

Perceptive employees can often detect that some verbal appreciation is nothing more than hollow words used by the boss as an obligatory acknowledgement of a job completed. Genuine compliments should be given. When you flatter employees to make them happy, you don’t mean what you say, which might lead to unhappiness. It is preferable to remain silent than to tell a lie.

Telling an employee, she is well-dressed, then turning around and telling her coworkers she is ill-dressed is flattery and excessive praise.

All these issues can be solved by giving appreciation that is distributed effectively and equally among all the employees. There should be no favoritism or nepotism. Praise should be given to every employee who deserves it. If an employee demands a raise instead of verbal praise, then his demands should be considered for his/her services. As a manager, I would try my best to meet the demands of employees and ensure effective distribution of praise.

Assuming the role of a manager, you must have the understanding that you’re placed to lead. An effective leader must understand how to manage all characters, and how to utilize approaches that allow room for employees to work, grow, and lead independently one day themselves. As a manager you control activities, business dealings, and so much more that at times it may cause a manager to miss a thing or two. As a manager of any company, you’d want to maintain customer satisfaction, continued production of the business, increased profits, and along with all the vast desires, as a manager you’d also want the engagement of eager employees. A key component to a successful business is simply a satisfied employee. Now, you may wonder why it’s important to keep employees engaged and how could a manager provide an environment as such; managers could actually begin that process by ensuring that recognition to employees is distributed effectively and fairly. Recognition is the appreciation or acclaim for an achievement, service, or ability. An employee can receive various types of recognition for their work. Typically, employers tend to praise employees when they’ve done a job well done but it’s believed that employees should receive praise not only when they’ve done something beneficial for the company. Praise is one of the most powerful things a leader can offer their team.

Delivering praise gives people the drive and motivation to continue doing the quality of work you want to see for your business, especially as a manager. It can also build and nourish the professional relationship you may have with them. Praise has the potential to increase punctual arrival to ones’ shift, customer satisfaction, self-esteem, and desire to work. As it could also decrease callouts, burnouts, and a hostile environment. If you want your employees to be engaged, productive, and perform at a high-level, they need to feel seen, appreciated, and recognized for their efforts. So as a manager, considering making employee recognition a priority would be ideal if the intent is to cause the behavior to occur again.

There are many ways a manager could provide praise professionally. Verbal and tangible praise may go hand in hand but when praising employees for a job well done, managers need to ensure that the praise is given in conjunction with the specific accomplishment. Of course, receiving something tangible as a result of recognition could bring the employee to assume that they would always be rewarded for good work making it the only way to satisfy them for the work done which could become costly for the company. Tangible rewards such a bumper sticker, a t-shirt, or even a company mug – employees appreciate the little things… believe they do; but rewards that are meaningful to them is what employees would really appreciate over a thumbs up tangible reward. Monetary incentives like raises and bonuses are far more effective and important to employees when receiving recognition but as mentioned previously, verbal praise from managers is also as important to employees. “Verbal rewards are inexpensive for companies to hand out but also are quick and easy to distribute. Employees may find more value in a sincere pat on the back than gifts from management that are either meaningless or not conveyed with respect” (Thanks for nothing). Being genuine and believing in the compliment given assures employees of your sincerity. As a manager, to ensure that recognition given to employees is distributed effectively and fairly you would want to start with the words “thank you”.

Proving the simple words “thank you” at the very least could be the most effective way to praise any employee. Managers can create their own form of employee recognition programs with the support and communication of their work community. Creating surveys, setting polls, and actively participating in conversation with employees themselves is a great way to provide employees with the opportunity of being acknowledged. Group events that recognize the achievements of the organization and employees at large provide the opportunity to make employees feel valued. Giving incentives as a group removes the pressure of favoritism and encourages employees to believe team productivity is also as important as individual praise. It’s important for managers to know their employees and see their progress as individuals because recognition should always be given fairly and justly. An employee who isn’t always on time to their shift may receive a different type of praise than the person that shows up to work on time. Let’s say the late employee excels better at the given task than the employee that arrives on time; such factors must be weighed and taken into consideration when distributing recognition effectively fairly to employees from a manager standpoint.

In conclusion, the Incentive theory of motivation has its pros and cons. This theory is a work in progress, and additional research should be conducted to determine whether the theory adequately accounts for all types of motivation. Nonetheless, there are some advantages to this theory. One advantage is that it provides basic guidelines for motivating oneself and others based on what motivates each individual person. The second advantage is that the theory helps us understand how we can change our behavior to fit with changes in organizations or society more generally. Finally, the Incentive theory has its cons; one disadvantage would be that it does not provide insight into why people may choose not to engage in certain behaviors even when they could benefit from doing them (e.g., if you were given an opportunity).