The hotel industry has long struggled to establish what truly makes hotel employees motivated and satisfied with their jobs. High employee turnover in the hotel industry is believed to be due to the nature of the work, its low pay, and its long working hours. Thus, to effectively address this turnover problem, employee motivation could be an on-going and critical issue for managers in hotel operations. (Chiang and Jang 2008)
Chitiris (1990, 293) strongly emphasized the importance of motivation by stating that “Motivation is the prime determinant of behaviour at work and that high ability and high levels of job training will not result in high performance if the individual is completely de-motivated or under-motivated at work.” In addition to that, Lee-Ross (2005) elaborated on the significant connection between motivation in the workplace and practical organizational-based outcomes such as productivity, commitment, job satisfaction, intent to stay and burnout.
According to Robbins et al. (2008, 180), motivation can be defined as “The processes that account for an individual’s intensity, direction and persistence of effort towards attaining a goal.” Intensity is concerned with how hard a person tries, and is generally the focus of motivation. However, high intensity is unlikely to bring favourable job-performance outcomes unless the effort is channelled in the right direction. Finally, the persistence dimension of motivation is a measure of how long a person can maintain effort. Motivated individuals stay with a task long enough to achieve their goal.
Fundamentally, Hackman and Oldham’s (1976) theory of motivation is concerned with “internal work motivation” whereby a continuous cycle of motivation happens within the employee. In other words, the more effort expended on a job, the more motivated they would become. (Chiang and Jang 2008; Lee-Ross 2005)
While on the job, motivation is important for individuals. In some theories (e.g. expectancy or equity), researchers predict variations in the evaluations of motivational outcomes, for example, by using remuneration. However, the evaluation of remuneration is usually only one of many outcomes and is often measured with little accuracy. (Mitchell and Mickel 1999)
The biggest challenge of employee motivation is that employees often motivate themselves, based on their perception of what they want to achieve and how they can achieve it. However, if managers are aware of what their employees want from work, they can design a work environment that accommodates employees’ needs and desires. At the same time, well-informed managers may be able to avoid common pitfalls that tend to reduce employee motivation. (Simons and Enz 1995)
“If a company knows why its employees come to work on time, stay with the company for their full working lives, and are productive, then it might be able to ensure that all of its employees behave in that way” (Kovach 1987, 58). Such a company would naturally have a competitive advantage over competitors that may be suffering from high absenteeism and turnover rates, costly re-training programs, and production slowdowns.
Wiley (1997) emphasized that in the case of the lack of ability in employees,
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