The year is 2018 and gone are the days of sustaining a job that leaves you resentful and unfulfilled in hopes it will provide “stability”, a discount on your cellphone bill, and a decent retirement package. Study after study shows that younger generations are looking for something more out of their career than a steady paycheck and job security. People want to feel engaged, supported and motivated. The question is what effect that motivation has on an individual employee’s job performance.

When discussing job satisfaction and work ethic with managers and supervisors who have a more traditional take on employment, the consensus seems to be that an employee is contracted to do a job they are paid to do. As a result, that person can gain seniority and possibly long-term benefits as well as the social status of being able to claim longevity with a company or field. The impact the job may have on personal and professional development and overall quality of life are considered mostly irrelevant or a bonus at best. The expectation is that a paycheck is the only motivation or thanks needed to retain employees and that they should be thankful to have a job at all.

Over the past decades this ideology first solidified the belief that people were not meant to be happy at work, and then ensured that decades of hard workers remained loyal to jobs that left them feeling stuck, unappreciated, and unhappy. Instead of questioning this lack of fulfillment and fighting for better job opportunities, society accepted this ideology and definition of “work” to be truth, internalized it and passed it down through generations.

As a result, those generations of children grew up watching their parents stifle creativity and passion in hopes of creating stability. What these children learned is that stability is not enough to create a happy life, and a paycheck is no longer enough to keep them motivated at a job.

When exploring job performance, motivation is a fundamental concept to consider. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Motivation as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

For this purpose, the key word in this definition is willingness.

Are you willing to try your best at work every time you clock in?

Are you willing to get the extra training to strengthen your skills?

Are you willing to sacrifice your personal time to ensure a project gets done?

Providing someone with a paycheck may ensure they show up, however, it does not ensure that when they do they are willing to do their job well.

Motivation can be understood as a snowball effect and is often self-perpetuating based on what the employee is willing to do. It is also a key factor in making sure the job is done correctly and with care. Let’s say an employee is feeling particularly motivated for a new project that speaks to them on a personal level. They take ownership in completing the project, do a great job with it and receive praise from a supervisor. That reinforcement motivates the employee to work just as hard on the next project even though they don’t have the same personal attachment. The momentum gained from the first project can be the motivation needed for the next project and so on. In addition, that motivation is contagious and likely to spread to coworkers throughout the company. No one wants to be the only one who isn’t trying their best and it is natural for people to want to be part of the action!


Within the field of Human Resources, motivation is absolutely vital. According to a study published by the Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review:

“Motivation is about giving your staff the right mixture of guidance, direction, resources and rewards so that they are inspired and keen to work in the way that you want them to.”

That statement could very easily be referring to the role of an organization’s Human Resource department. Amongst so many other things, a primary function of the Human Resource manager is to keep employees motivated by supporting them in a way that combines personal and professional needs. It is a unique management role that gives you confidential insight into the lives of employees as well as the authority to direct and manage them professionally. This multi-faceted support contributes to an environment that allows employees the mental space to focus on the job and the clarity to be creative in their approach to getting it done. It is much easier to stay motivated when you feel supported by your agency and it also creates a sense of pride in the job and the organization.

As people get bogged down by routines, deadlines, lack of sleep and all the other things that distract us on the job, it is important to remember that often managers and supervisors don’t always have the capability to focus on keeping the team motivated. That job will often fall to the Human Resources department. Middle-management has the tough job of aligning the employees with the vision of upper management and that can create a strain that makes it difficult for them to take on an inspirational role at times. As a Human Resource Manage, it can feel tough to step into that role and motivate people you don’t share an office with or even see on a regular basis. That is where you get to use your passion and creativity!

The conclusion is that Motivation is certainly a determining factor to an employee’s job performance. But fear not, the best part about motivating people is that there are no strict guidelines to follow, there’s no “Motivational Rule Book” so to speak. Get to know your team and what makes them thrive and have fun. Use positive reinforcement and try silly techniques; your effort will be motivating and will start the momentum needed to accomplish your organizational goals in no time!

In closing, a quote from Jeff Bezos, who is said to be a great motivational leader as the founder of Amazon.com:

“The thing that motivates me is a very common form of motivation. And that is, with other folks counting on me, it is so easy to be motivated!”

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