Lesson 5: Motivating Employees

Lesson 5: Motivating Employees

The leadership of the business needs to put forth the goal of a healthy and safe workplace,
but then the problem becomes getting employees to buy into this goal and become motivated to accomplish it. Ponder (2005) points out that an understanding of motivational theory can be very useful in getting workers to become serious about safety in the workplace. The leader has to motivate each employee to want to be part of the workplace changes that are necessary to improve the safety and health of all employees in the business.
Rewards are usually very effective motivators and will usually work much better than punishments in helping the workforce to improve the process of work. Workers ’ interest tends to increase in areas where management has increased its focus. In other words, if a leader is concerned about potential dangers from the work process, the workers become more interested in keeping the process safe. The process also has to offer incentives for goal accomplishment.
Northouse (2007) discusses the concept of inspirational motivation. In this case the leader communicates high expectations to followers, inspiring them to become part of the vision for a safe and healthy working environment. This vision put forth by the leader should attract the commitment of the employees to act on making the vision reality. This change produced by the leader and the workers can certainly become a positive force in the development of a workplace free of illness and injuries.

Dubrin (2007) discusses how coaching can be an effective leadership skill when attempting to motivate employees to attain the vision espoused by the leader. Dubrin also points out that expectancy theory can be an excellent starting point in understanding how to motivate employees. The three major parts of expectancy theory are valence, instrumentality, and expectancy. Valence is the value of the outcome to the employee. Instrumentality refers to the probability that the performance by the employee will lead to certain outcomes. Expectancy then becomes the individual ’ s assessment of the probability that his or her effort will lead to correct performance.
Applying this motivational theory to achieving occupational safety and health tells us that there needs to be a strong belief among employees that a safe and healthy workplace is desired by all and that if they use their skills they can make this vision a reality. The leader must also ensure that workers have the requisite skills and empowerment they will need to use once they are motivated.

One of the more intriguing theories of motivation was put forth by Abraham Maslow in the 1940s and posits that individuals are motivated by a hierarchy of needs that range from lower-level physiological and safety needs to higher-level social, esteem, and self – actualization needs (Lussier & Achua, 2004). Only unmet needs can be a source of true motivation, and the lower – level needs must be met before the individual is able to move on and attempt to satisfy higher-level needs. Workers may or may not be aware of all of the potential safety needs not being met by their current
place of employment and particular occupation. The leader has the ability to educate them about all the needs that can affect them as they continue their employment with the business.


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