Classification of Motivational Tools

By John Dudovskiy

Motivational ToolsJohns et al (2005) divides motivational tools exercised by companies into two categories: tangible and intangible. Tangible motivational tools include money, facilities, benefits, travels and some perks of the job, whereas such elements of employee recognition, appreciation letters, informal talks etc.

Byars and Rue (2007) highlight the efficiency of intangible motivational tool, stating that this form of motivation causes a deeper emotional attachment compared to tangible motivational methods if effectively implemented, and at the same time they are cost effective for companies as well.

This idea has been supported by a range of other authors as well who list the shortcomings of monetary motivation with statements like “money can motivate individual performance; however, the impact on performance is typically short-lived” (Marciano, 2010, p.33).

Another effective employee motivation tool that has been mentioned by Simon (2007) involves the trend of ‘employee ownership’. Namely, nowadays increasing number of companies are offering or awarding stock options of the company to their employees. Simon (2007) stresses that the effectiveness of this strategy is ensured by two facts. Firstly, employees are going to feel appreciated for their contribution to the company through ‘employee ownership’ motivational tool. Secondly, ‘employee ownership’ plan will effectively motivate employees for future efficient performances, because employees will feel the sense of ownership for the business. Currently, this form of motivational tool is especially popular with a number of leading retailers in UK such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and others.

It needs to be said that although many works have been done to address issues associated with motivation in the workplace most aspects of the issue are explored only in the surface within the business context. In other words, motivation issues within the business context are studied only with cause-and effect approach as “we can only observe the outward behaviour and guess what motivates any action” (Crouse, 2005, p.14)

The importance of adopting an individual approach in terms of motivating workforce has been stressed by many authors including Paauwe (2004), Dessler (2008), Landy and Conte (2010) and others. These authors state that no motivational method will result in same outcomes if applied to all members of the organisation due to the individual differences on the grounds of cultural differences, differences in temperament, personal traits etc. Therefore it is important for managers to study individual traits of each member of their workforce and motivate them accordingly.

According to Wood (2009) the issues of work-life balance of employees have become closely associated with the level of their motivation in organisations. In other words, the times when companies were looking for workaholic type of employees have passed, and nowadays companies have adopted a long-term approach in terms of recruiting and retaining their employees. Therefore, today increasing numbers of companies are offering their assistance to employees in order to manage the balance between their private and professional lives in an effective manner and such initiatives are being perceived as effective motivational factors by employees.

New forms of working patterns such as job-sharing, job-rotating, flexi-working and flexible working are being linked to the motivational aspects of business by such authors as Dessler (2008), who states that companies are introducing these new patterns of work in order to motivate their employees to increased levels of productivity. While the new patterns of employment provides opportunities to employees to manage their work-life balance in an effective manner, at the same time it is beneficial for the businesses as well because this strategy minimises the level of stress in the workplace and prevents employee ‘burnouts’

The limitations of fear as motivator have been mentioned by Crouse (2005). These limitations include unpredictable outcomes fear can result in, and the necessity for the source of fear to be present, be it an individual or a condition, in order to employees to be motivated by fear.

The role of engaging employees at all levels in decision making process as an effective motivational tool has been stressed by Sharma (2009). The author maintains that if this specific motivational strategy is integrated into the company practices the management can get benefits in two levels. Firstly, employees at all levels can offer valuable recommendations in terms dealing with various issues the organisation is faced with. Secondly, the level of self-esteem of the workforce is going to be increased, because the management is asking for their opinions. At the same time, Sharma (2009) warns that senior level management of the company does not have to adopt and implement each and every recommendation workforce suggests, but it is important to give chance to the workforce in terms of expressing their viewpoints regarding the formulation of the aims and objectives of the company and the ways of achieving them.

Armstrong (2001) makes a suggestion of a similar nature by highlighting the role of communication in terms of achieving increased levels of employee motivation in the workplaces. According to the author it is crucially important that the communication has to be two-way, and employees should have a chance to express their opinions and concerns to their superiors in order for them to be motivated.


  • Armstrong, M, 2001, A Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice, Kogan Page
  • Byars, LL & Rue, LW, 2006, Human Resource Management, Prentice Hall,
  • Crouse, N, 2005, Motivation Is an Inside Job: How to Really Get Your Employees to  Deliver the Results You Need,  IUniverse
  • Dessler, G, 2008, A Framework for Human resource Management, Pearson Education
  • Johns, T, Robinson, IM & Weightman, J, 2005, Managing People, Blackwell Publishing
  • Landy, FJ & Conte, JM, 2010, Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and Organisational Psychology, 3rd edition, John Wiley & Sons
  • Marciano, PL, 2010, Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with Principles of Respect, McGraw-Hill
  • Paauwe, J, 2004, HRM and Performance: Achieving Long-term Viability, Oxford University Press
  • Sharma, SK, 2009, Handbook of HRM Practices: Management Policies and Practices, Global India Publications
  • Simon, M, 2007, Human Resources Management in Europe, GRIN Verlag
  • Wood, G, 2009, Human Resource Management: A Critical Approach, Taylor & Francis

Category: HRM