In an attempt to discover what motivates employees, employee motivation research papers report that what motivates workers today is primarily linked to the values and goals of the individual. Beginning in the 1970's, it seems that there was a dramatic shift in the values and priorities of the everyday worker. As people became more educated and the economy witnessed a sharp decline of the Protestant work ethics, what employees wanted from their employers changed as well. The values that formerly characterized most employees in most organizations were as follows:
- A strong loyalty to the company for which they worked.
- A strong motivation for money and status.
- A strong motivation for promotion in the organization.
- A strong need for job stability and security.
- A strong identification with work roles rather than with personal roles off the job.
Today, it seems that many of these values and needs have changed and as a result, the values of today’s employee focus on self and emphasize characteristics that lead to self-development and self-fulfillment. These include the following:
- Little loyalty or commitment to an organization.
- A need for recognition of one’s accomplishments.
- Little concern with job security and stability.
- Leisure considered more important than work.
- Desire for work that is challenging, that provides opportunities for personal growth and development, and that calls for creativity.
- Desire to participate in decisions that affect one’s job.
- A stronger identification with one’s personal role in all facets of life rather that with one’s work role.
Shultz and Shultz continue by noting that the values and needs of the individual when met translate into job satisfaction and “a high level of job satisfaction is directly related to positive behavior on the job, specifically to high performance, low turnover, and low absenteeism”. Employee motivation research papers further this point by stating that, “For any effective work to occur, there must be a certain amount of consensus on basic values”. Therefore it is important to select individuals whose values and goals match those of the organization. This will ultimately produce satisfied employees, a productive workforce and hence a more successful organization.