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7 Psychological Principles For Employee Motivation

Workplace can turn out to be a stressful environment for some .Studies have been  conducted to identify these problems and work on solutions. The world of Psychology offers some ideas to enhance productivity that can be beneficial to both the employees and the employer.

Employee motivation can lead to eliminating various workplace related problems and optimise dynamics of the workplace. Supporting a positive mood, inducing motivation, learning stress management, resolving conflicts and improving communication skills becomes a necessary skill set to have in today’s competitive environment. 

7 Psychological Principles that you can use to motivate your employees:

  1. Intrinsic motivation 

Most employers use extrinsic motivation such as bonuses, these might  help in increasing mechanical work but intrinsic motivation can help better if you want to help your employees achieve a growth mindset

It provides a feeling of being in control and increases effort. 

Ways to inculcate intrinsic motivation among employees:

  • Give people a sense of control by giving them choices 
  • Increase employee involvement
  • Add responsibility , it makes the employee feel that they are trusted
  • Involving employees in decision making is very important as it can also help in conflict resolution , they have subjective insights to their respective area of work.
  •  Encourage professional development of your employees
  • Recognising efforts and helping them in moving in the right direction also helps employees to stay motivated

 This method can also work as a great tool for employee retention.

     2. Micro goals

Inspired by the goals setting theory by Edward Locke

  • Breaking down tasks into smaller easily achievable goals is a good way to be motivated as it gives confidence of moving forward. 
  • This also helps to stay focused on the given goal without getting distracted.
  • Helps to keep track of the work by evaluating the frequency

     Self-regulation theory suggests that employees should keep  track of their own progress and then make necessary adjustments.

Celebrate milestones whenever a project gets completed.

    3. Equity Theory

Your employees should feel equal amongst their peers. The theory states how workers assess their efforts and outcomes on the job by calculating a “productivity ratio.” They then (most likely unconsciously) compare their ratio to the perceived ratios of their coworkers.

    4. Hawthorne effect 

This effect states how an individual changes behaviour when they are being observed and given attention.

The more attention an employee receives from the management , other employees or leaders they become more productive. This also helps give feedback to the employee.


Displaying the companies or the organisation’s brand can create a subliminal or unconscious response in the mind for loyalty. This is because branding inforces group think mentality and a sense of belonging. On the other hand to the outsiders it gives a sense of intimidation from the unity of the group. During this era of hybrid work companies are losing opportunities to influence the company culture , this should be incorporated by outlining company values and finding ways to re focus on brand..

Read more: 10 tips for developing your leadership skills

    6. Cost benefit theory 

When the cost outweighs the benefits of the work done it gets difficult for an individual to be motivated. The brain needs to understand the benefits of an action in order to keep doing the task. This is the extrinsic motivation of an individual, which involves incentives and bonuses.

     7. Interactionist theory 

It is important that the workforce on all levels of hierarchy are at the same level of clarity and productivity.

If an employee feels that communication is effective from the management, it creates a level of trust and commitment. Communication can be done in various ways such as face to face , emails , phone calls/conference or video conference. Communication also helps for better collaboration for team projects. 

These were some psychological based theories one can apply in the workforce to increase productivity. Although these tips work in an array of organisations, it is important to note the effect of these changes might vary organisation to organisation. Finding out what works for each organisation or industry is important. For this reason one should also explore leadership coaching in order to understand more in-depth concepts of leadership and employee motivation.

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