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Equity Theory of Motivation Part 2

Equity Motivation Theory

Written by Dave Gannaway

The equity theory of motivation is another case of establishment justifying itself by stating or formulating the obvious. Or as Shakespeare wrote, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ a comedy! The Adams’ equity theory states that when people feel they are treated well and fairly they are more likely to be motivated; and when they are treated badly they will feel dissatisfied and de-motivated. … Duh!

In the work place I think it would be healthier if everyone concerned adopted the stance that ‘no one has any rights,’ whether employee or employer. When an employee takes a job he is selling his labor /expertise’s by the hour or by the month. A good day’s work for a good day’s pay. Under that agreement the employee is obligated to give it his best shot … to give the employer good value for money. If the employee demonstrates that and honors the agreement everyone is satisfied and he keeps his job. What now, if he can add value to his agreement by going the extra mile or any other constructive way. He can then, as the equity motivation theory states, feel justified in expecting greater rewards. But will he get it?

Just placing a modicum of reality on that situation begs to understand human reality. An employee who goes the extra mile and does more than is asked of him, truly is worth greater consideration. However few employers will recognize the extra effort in terms of warranting reward. They would more likely be pleased with their judgment and that this is an exceptional employee. To think the employer would give an individual any extra benefits over his workmates is naïve. True, a good employer should recognize such good value, but how often do they? The reality, from the employer’s point of view, is that if one employee is given extra benefits then the remaining employees, although not demonstrating extra initiative, could be de-motivated by what they would see as preferential treatment.

Naturally the employer wants to see the greatest productivity possible for his dollars. The equity motivation theory states that if the employer treats his employees well and fairly they will in turn be motivated to work hard and provide value for money. For an employer to reward individuals he should, sensibly, set up some form of initiative scheme that availed the opportunity to all. This would make it clear to others the reason for individual benefits.

An employee who wishes to progress, has constructive ideas, or thinks he/she is worthy of greater rewards should negotiate directly with his employer. If he is going the extra mile or creating greater benefits most often the employer would be very aware of it and so be anxious to maintain that individual’s motivation … but if nothing is said the employer’s attitude may well be ‘if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it!’

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