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Employee Job Performance


Many research studies have been conducted to establish the relationship between employee motivation and engagement on their job performance. The results have been inconclusive at best because the answers are contradictory. Understanding employee motivation is a crucial skill that every manager should have. Employees are human beings who are informed by their behaviors in their decision making. The behaviors are learned and can be altered by changing the conditions of work. While the correlation between staff motivation and productivity is still hazy, the correlation between employee motivation and engagement has been established. The more an employee is motivated, the higher his or her engagement in the company’s activities. The more engagement reduces the employee turnover ratio and its associated costs which average at US$ 450-550 billion annually in the US alone.

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Part 1: Question and Plan

Research Problem and Question

An organization’s employees are its most valuable assets. They directly contribute to the profitability of the organization. Employees, despite being bound by the regulations and job specifications, have the autonomy to determine their level of engagement. They cannot be forced to increase or reduce their engagement levels. They do so voluntarily, it is intrinsic. Researches show that the more motivated an employee is the more engaged they become and the lesser their chances of leaving. Some researchers such as Guo et al have gone a step further to tie employee motivation and employee performance as having a causal relationship, a fact many others have disputed. Since all these variables are crucial in understanding human psyche and improving an organization’s productivity and profitability, this study seeks to establish the relationship between employee motivation, engagement and performance.

The significance of this study is it can prove to be of great help in designing interventions to improve job performance. If a relationship is established between employee motivation and job performance then motivators, for example financial incentives among others, would be put in place to enhance motivation. If employee engagement improves their performance then measures will be taken to increase their engagement such as promotions and adoption of relevant leadership styles. This study, therefore, proposes and seeks to answer the question: What is the extent of the influence of employee motivation and engagement on employee job performance?

Methods and Plan of Conducting the Research

This study is a qualitative one that seeks to examine the correlation between motivating the staff and their productivity. There is a huge volume of research on the topic and therefore the literature on the same is in plenty. For that reason, this study employs an examination of previous studies as the sole data collection tool. The study will utilize the many available resources and compare the results to identify whether there is a causal relationship between employee motivation, engagement and performance.

The research will use sources from online databases that contain the electronic versions of printed peer reviewed journals, books, and websites. The first step will be concept mapping where the problem of the study and the research question will be evaluated to provide the search terms to be used in netting the most relevant literature. This is absolutely crucial because there are a lot of materials available already. Only the most specific ones to the topic will be of help. What is more, the whole research question cannot be searched verbatim in the databases; hence search terms will be apt. After keying in the terms, the most relevant ones will be identified and annotated. The major arguments and contributions in the field of employee research will be identified and listed. Qualitative content analysis will then be used to identify the major themes and findings in the areas of interest. Conclusion on the influence of employee motivation and engagement on job performance will then be drawn from these findings.

Part 2: Annotated Bibliography

  • Gardner, Heidi. “Performance Pressure as a Double-edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation but Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge.” Administrative Science Quarterly 57.1 (2012): 1-46. Print.

The article by Heidi investigates the relationship between employee motivation and team motivation. Heidi recognizes that employee motivation’s effects tend to change when it comes to team work. The research establishes that the pressure on employees to perform adversely affects their motivation. It is because such pressure makes the team members to forget about their individual skills and brilliance and focus on group efforts in order to raise performance. The focus shifts from domain-specific capabilities to strengthening of the general skills that readily improve productivity. This study is a key resource in showing there is a correlation between motivating the staff and their consequent productivity. It provides a detailed analysis of how performance pressure can reduce an individual’s motivation. However, the article fails to empirically support the assertion that there is a direct correlation between the two variables. This article will, nevertheless, prove insightful in this study through explaining the ways in which performance and motivation interact.      

  • Galagan, Pat. “Employee Engagement: An Epic Failure.” Talent Development 69.3 (2015): 24-27. Print.

This article by Galagan explores the importance of employee engagement on employee job performance and profitability. The author establishes that while many business leaders have accepted that raising employee engagement is crucial, very few have taken proactive measures to maintain them. The author asserts that a mere 25% have a plan to actively engage their employees. The research results proved the hypothesis that money is a strong employee motivator. It advocated for fair remuneration for the employees to meet their needs and satisfy their wants in order to improve their engagement. However, the author also found out that there is no correlation between the satisfaction of the staff and their level of productivity. The research established that it is the performance that motivates satisfaction and not the other way round as found in other studies such as Gardner. This research will be crucial in establishing the relationship between motivation and engagement and how these, in turn, influence the performance in a workplace.

  • Thahier, Rohana, Ridjal, Samsu, and Risani, Faisal. “The Influence of Leadership Style and Motivation upon Employee Performance in the Provincial Secretary Office of West Sulawesi.” International Journal of Academic Research 6.1 (2014): 116-124. Print.

The article by Thahier, Ridjal and Risani seeks to establish the relationship between the leadership style in an organization and consequent employee motivation on their productivity. The research found out that all types of leadership styles have a direct, explicit influence on the level of intrinsic motivation that employees have. Their level of motivation, in turn, affects the efforts they put in their activities, thus performance level. The author recommends a more participative type of leadership over instruction-based or consultation-based ones. This research study will be insightful in establishing the role of leadership in determining the level of employee motivation. Since the study also asserts that the level of motivation influences the employee performance, it will prove insightful in explaining the causal relationship.

  • Guo, Yun, Liao, Jianquiao, Liao, Shudi, and Zhang, Yanhong. “The Mediating Role of Intrinsic Motivation on the Relationship between Developmental Feedback and Employee Job Performance.” Social Behavior and Personality 42.5 (2014): 731-742. Print.

This study by Guo et al took an outside look on the role of motivation on employees’ productivity levels. The study arrived at the conclusion that the feedback that employees receive from their seniors can either motivate or discourage them. This research will be crucial in understanding the mediating effect of employee motivation derived from managerial response on the level of productivity. It will be insightful in explaining the causal relationship between motivation and performance, or the lack of it.

  • Christ, Margaret, Emett, Scott, Summers, Scott, and Wood, David. “The Effect of Preventive and Detective Controls on Employee Performance and Motivation.” Contemporary Accounting Research 29.2 (2012): 432-452. Print.

This study by Christ et al investigated the organizational environment of a firm and its influence on performance and motivation. The study found out that formal controls reduce the employees’ motivation levels. This is because they reduce their autonomy in decision making. The study also established that preventive controls are worse than detective controls in killing employee morale. This study will be crucial in establishing the influence of intrinsic motivation on productivity and consequent profitability of an organization.

Part 3: Results and Discussion

The influence of Employee Engagement on Job Performance

Documentary review has established that there is a causal relationship between the level of engagement and the level of productivity of the employees. As such, employee engagement has become crucial in today’s management. Galagan established that an increase in engagement increases productivity by 33%. An increase in employee rewards such as recognition and financial incentives improved the level of motivation. Financial incentives such as issuance of shares and increase in remuneration reflected in employee motivation. It made them improve their efficiency. A research by Christ et al, for example, found out that highly remunerated employees took a shorter period of time undertaking their data entry tasks as compared to lower remunerated ones. The level of their happiness also influenced their motivation levels. Generally, happier employees were more motivated. For instance, the sample of employees in the study by Guo et al recorded higher flexibility to job descriptions and other situations because they were intrinsically motivated.

The style of leadership proved to be essential in determining the level of employee engagement which in turn influences productivity. Engaged employees are more productive than non-engaged ones. Instruction-based leadership generated employees who are less motivated. This is because they are placed in a controlled environment which is restrictive. They do not have the autonomy to make decisions on their own. Christ et al complemented these findings by asserting that formal controls reduce motivation by 20%. They investigated the impact that preventive and detective controls had on the efficiency of employees who were performing data entry tasks. Preventive controls were more restrictive than detective controls. Consultative and participatory leadership styles improved engagement by 22%. Organizations that exhibited participatory and consultative leadership styles improved job performance by 6%. It was a small margin but a positive improvement nevertheless.

The Influence of Employee Motivation on Job Performance

Several researches, including Thahier, Ridjal and Rasani, assert that happier employees have increased productivity. These researches, however, have failed to provide a direct link between being happy and being productive. While investigating the effectiveness of employee engagement in contemporary business practices, Galagan found out that, actually, there is no relationship between being happy and the consequent performance of the employee. Galagan asserts that being happy improves the satisfaction that the employee derives from the work they do. However, Galagan found out that contrary to many research findings that employee satisfaction improves performance, it does not. Employee satisfaction enhances intrinsic motivation. The motivation does not increase their performance but instead increase their sense of belonging to the organization. In fact, Galagan found out that there is a relationship, but the benefits flow the other way round. Instead of the motivation enhancing performance, it is the performance influences motivation. A good performance makes the employees happy and enhances motivation, the opposite is also true. However, Thahier, Ridjal and Risani found out that the cycle is self-perpetuating. Good performance enhances motivation and that enhanced motivation, in turn, further improves performance.

Gardner and Thahier, Ridjal and Risani found out that there are many motivators that are tied to employee performance. According to McClelland the need for achievement is the most crucial motivator. The need for achievement is intrinsic in all human beings. An employee who craves to achieve a milestone will put energy and soul into the activity. It in turn reflects in improved productivity. In that sense, an increase in motivation improves performance. The above is the causal relationship that exists between employee motivation and their productivity. Increased motivation makes the employees enthusiastic and increases their will to excel. These attributes are necessary in improving performance. Another need that has direct influence on motivation and that translates into improved performance is the need for power. It refers to the desire to feel an intrinsic worth and impact on others. The need to achieve a position of power makes the employees to put themselves in positions that demand competitiveness. This improved competitiveness enhances productivity while at the same time leveraging the need to achieve to keep the employees highly motivated. In that sense, too, employee motivation influences job performance.

The need for affiliation was also established as a major factor that mediates motivation and job performance. Every person in the world has the need to feel important. They do so by associating themselves with people or products that are successful and positive. The need to be affiliated with an organization improves an employee motivation to work harder. The need for affiliation makes the employees to stay positive and motivated. They also work hard to achieve and maintain the connection with the prestigious entity and in the process improving their productivity.

In conclusion, the level of employee engagement influences the productivity levels. The higher the engagement levels the higher the productivity of the employee. Organizations that have engagement plans, for instance through improving employee remuneration, improve their productivity. However, it is evident that happier employees are not necessarily productive. Also, being happy, and thus engaged, does not mean that they will improve their performances. Improved productivity, instead, is what makes employees happy. The study has also established there is a causal relationship between employee motivation and their level of productivity. The need to achieve, power and affiliation enhanced motivation which in turn improved productivity. Top executives should leverage the insights from these research studies to improve employee performance.

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