Organizational Components of Motivation

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss the organizational components of motivation

Fortune Magazine counts them down every year: the top 100 best companies to work for. How do they arrive at that list? This is right from their site:

Great Place to Work measures companies on the following characteristics: Great Place to Work for All, executive team effectiveness, innovation, and people-focused programs. In a Great Place to Work for All, employees report high levels of trust, credible and respectful leadership, pride in the work, and camaraderie. We also look to see that employees consistently experience this great workplace, regardless of who they are or what they do.[1]

So just what makes a great company? If you look at quotes from employees, a few things quickly rise as common elements of good organizations.

  • organizational culture and politics
  • leadership and coworkers
  • sense of equity

Let’s take a look at how each of these elements can impact employee motivation.

Organizational Culture and Politics

The culture encourages its associates to try new things, push the limits, and go beyond what we know as acceptable in today’s marketplace. It fosters healthy work-life balance and consistently encourages associates to live a better life.[2]

As we learned earlier, culture encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. It’s an organization’s “personality.” A good organizational culture might, in itself, not be a primary motivator, but an organization that fosters teamwork and encourages team members to mind their own well-being is certainly planting the seeds for individual motivation.

two people shaking hands

Conversely, an organization filled with gossip and negative company politics can be a demotivator for its employees. Employees working for an organization that has this kind of culture might foster distrust for others, and even create an atmosphere that contributes to lack of productivity. This can have an adverse effect on the performance-outcome link of the expectancy framework.

Leadership and Coworkers

“The [owners] and all executives and leaders are engaged, invested and committed to our mission of helping people live healthier, better lives through food, and in doing the right thing.”[3]

“What makes [this] a great place to work for me is the teamwork, cooperation, the overall attitude, but most importantly the people. The people in our organization truly do care for one another as well as the guests coming onto our property.”[4]

These are quotes from employees at two different companies, but they both speak to the same thing: people. Leaders and coworkers can be an important element in the organization component of motivation.

Leaders who support their employees and adopt (or even live) the company’s mission are setting the stage for a strong effort to performance and performance-to-outcome link in the expectancy framework, and at the same time they’re building a supportive organizational culture. Strong leaders also build trust, as an employee needs to trust in his leader to provide feedback and direction in his job.

coworkers sitting around a table laughingA great team also supports motivation, as indicated in the second quote. Coworkers who support and encourage one another can be very motivating, and team members are often even motivated to do the work for one another. A great set of coworkers means looking forward to going to work each day.

On the other side of that coin, poor leaders and coworkers can be demotivating. A team member might look to a leader or coworker for advice, and he has to trust that the advice will be good and honest. Coworkers who are not trustworthy may be out to sabotage you for their own gain. A poor leader might not give feedback or provide direction, and then tear down an employee who thought he was doing a good job. None of these situations motivates an employee to do good work.

Sense of Equity

Besides the amazing benefits we receive here every day, any time a [team member] or their family member is in need or passes away, the company pulls together to show an outpouring of love and support like I have never seen elsewhere.[5]

The idea of equity in a company, or an employee’s perception of equity, is perhaps the most important element of the organizational component.

For instance, this employee is quoted as saying that all employees have amazing benefits, but if something were to go wrong for a member of the organization, the whole company comes together to show support. That’s not only an illustration of supportive coworkers, but it’s an illustration of equity: everyone gets treated the same.

Equity is an individual’s sense that everyone within the company is being treated fairly. Most of the time, equity appeals to the extrinsic elements of a person’s motivation in that they feel their efforts and skills are being compensated with salary and benefits and other things that the company offers.

When employees feel as though they are putting in more than they’re getting, there is a sense of inequity, and that adversely affects the performance to outcome link in the expectancy framework. When a perception of inequity exists, a manager has to respond with hard facts and data that support equity. For instance, if people believe they are not being paid fairly for their work, a report showing average salaries for similar jobs in their geographical areas may change their minds and restore their perceptions of equity.

PRactice Question

Culture and politics; leaders and coworkers; and equity—while they may not stand alone in motivating employees to do a great job, they certainly build a foundation for great work to happen. Everyone wants to work for one of those Fortune 100 Great Companies to Work For, and that’s because they have the organization component of motivation figured out.

  1. “Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® 2020.” Great Place To Work United States,
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.