How to Evaluate Motivational Theories Used in the Workplace

Managers have several choices of motivational theories to apply to the workforce. The traditional theory is to use monetary rewards for increases in production or quality. The need theory assumes that people are motivated by the drive to satisfy an assortment of needs. The achievement-power-affiliation theory links motivation to the three needs in the theory's name. The Motivation-Maintenance theory lists motivators such as job satisfaction and interpersonal relations. The effectiveness of the application of these theories can be measured with observations of employee job satisfaction. Managers can evaluate satisfaction through employee surveys or by observing workers.

Survey the employees' perception of working conditions. Create a paper or online survey asking employees questions about job satisfaction and work motivation. Answers to the survey questions should help you understand whether or not your current motivation theory works.

Measure employee satisfaction with compensation and benefits packages. This evaluation is similar to the working conditions survey, except it's most helpful when applying or considering the traditional motivational theory.

Interview employees and human resource representatives about the effectiveness of current job designs. Job design is how well the job fulfils company objectives and how well the employee fulfils the requirements of the position. Employees who are satisfied with their position are usually highly motivated.

Evaluate employee feelings about supervision and management. This evaluation adds information to job satisfaction and motivation profiles. It also informs evaluators about supervisor consistency in following the mandate of the applied motivational theory.

Observe increases or decreases in organizational commitment and company loyalty. High turnover shows low job satisfaction and indicates unsuccessful application of motivational theory. High employee retention and other demonstrations of loyalty indicate successful motivators.

Observe increases or decreases in absenteeism and tardiness. Consistently late and absent employees are probably unhappy with their job and are unmotivated. A high number of late and absent employees signifies unsuccessful motivation techniques.


A rise in employee grievances, sabotage and strikes means very low employee motivation.

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About the Author

Roslyn Frenz started writing professionally in 2005, covering music, business ethics and philosophy. Her work has appeared in "Designing Wealth," "The Other Side," "Upstate Live" and many other publications. Frenz has a bachelor's degree in business marketing from the University of Phoenix. She is pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing.

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