Repairing Employee Morale and Boosting Motivation

By John Dudovskiy

Repairing Employee MoraleEmployee morale is “a composite of feelings and attitudes that individuals and groups have toward their work, working condition, supervisors, top level management, and the organisations” (Leonard, 2012, p.375), whereas motivation can be defined as “the process that determines the reinforcement value of an outcome” (Kalat, 2010, p.375).

Strategies offered to Managing Director in terms of repairing employee morale and boosting motivation include determining the types of employee motivation, applying to the most immediate needs of employees, adopting an individualistic approach in employee motivation, using an effective combination of tangible and intangible motivational tools, and achieving equity in motivation. The rationale behind each of these strategies is discussed below in greater details.


1. Determining the Types of Employee Needs

It is important to determine types of employee need in order to repair employee morale and boost the level of motivation at Company. McClelland’s Achievement Motivation (1965) can be used to deal with this task. McClelland (1965) divides employee needs into three groups: need for achievement, need for power, and need for affiliation.

It has to be noted that all three types of needs – need for achievement, need for power, and need for affiliation can be possessed by any one individual; nevertheless, specific type of need generally prevails over others for each individual.

Accordingly, managers need to engage in employee motivation taking into account their specific needs. For example, employees that have need for power can be effectively motivated by positions with greater level of responsibility. Motivation of employees with a greater need for affiliation, on the other hand, can be achieved through publicly acknowledging their contribution to the achievement of organisational goals in front of groups in general, and their immediate team members in particular.


2. Applying to the Most Immediate Needs of Employees

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943) is one of the most popular frameworks in the area of motivation. Maslow divides human needs into five categorise in a hierarchical order: psychological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualisation. According to this theory more urgent and immediate need for an individual has to be satisfied before needs in other levels become urgent and important.

Repairing Employee Morale

Hierarchy of Needs

The central idea behind Hierarchy of Needs is that managers need to identify and apply to the most immediate needs of employees in order to increase the levels of their performances.

Within the framework of Hierarchy of Needs,  managers may be motivated primarily by safety needs. In other words, substantial numbers of employees have may been made redundant recently, and remaining workforce might also have concerns regarding the safety of their position.

Therefore, managers are recommended to motivate employees by applying to the safety of their positions and specifying and communicating performance levels that would contribute to the safety of their positions.


3. Adopting an Individualistic Approach in Motivation

It is important for management to understand the impact of their behaviour on employee motivation. Theory X and Theory Y is an analytical framework developed by McGregor (2002) and it is based on two alternative sets of assumptions about the workforce.

According to Theory X assumptions, employees are generally lazy; they lack initiatives, and need to be controlled at all time. Theory Y, on the other contrary, specifies employees as highly motivated, ambitious, highly enthusiastic and self-directive. Management is recommended to promote Theory Y type organisational culture, and consequently to benefit from highly motivated workforce in many levels.


4. Using a Combination of Tangible and Intangible Motivational Tools

Motivational tools can be tangible or intangible. Tangible motivational tools, as the name implies consists of tangible elements such as money, presents, free food and beverages etc. Intangible motivational tools, on the contrary, involve elements that are not present in physical terms such as verbal appreciation of performances, status, appreciation letters etc.

Managers need to use both, tangible, as well as, intangible employee motivation tools and these two needs to be used in an efficiently integrated way. Moreover, the choices of specific elements in both categories need to depend on a range of factors such as employee traits and characteristics, career aspirations etc.


5. Achieving Equity in Motivation

According to Equity Theory of Motivation, “the motivation of individuals in organisations is influenced by the extent to which they feel that they are being treated in a fair and equitable manner” (Khan, 2003, p.60).

Managers need to ensure that there is an adequate level of balance between inputs, i.e. employee time, efforts, skills and competencies, and outputs, i.e. tangible and intangible compensation provided by the company. It is critically important to ensure that there is no or minimal differences in perception of this balance between Company  management and employees.



Kalat, J.W. (2010) “Introduction to Psychology” Cengage Learning

Khan, A. (2003) “Teaching Motivation” Discovery Publishing House

Leonard, E.C. (2013) “Supervision: Concepts and Practices of Management” 12th edition, Cengage Learning

Maslow, A.H. (1943) “The Theory of Human Motivation”  Psychological Review, 50(4)

McClelland, D. (1965) “Toward a Theory of Motive Acquisition” American Psychologist

McGregor, D. (2002) “Theory X and Theory Y” Workforce, Vol.81, Issue 1

Category: HRM