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Expectancy-Value Theory: Connecting Expectations to Rewards

As employees scramble over each other in an attempt to achieve the next promotion, or trinket of acknowledgement, it is important to understand precisely how their expectations lead to motivation. Expectancy-Value Theory is one way of looking at how employees value the behavioral options available to them.  In this theory, management should tie behavior and reward closely together if there is an expectation that employees will be motivated and productive.  Management has an ethical opportunity to ensure proper returns on investments and progressive use of human capital in order to fulfill their function. The concepts of valence and expectancy make up the bulk of the Expectancy-Value Theory.  In general, employees believe that when they put forth a specific amount of effort there should be an appropriate reward that is offered. If the expected energy and the value of the reward are not in alignment it will be difficult for management to solicit certain types of motivated behavior.

The Leading Theories of Employee Motivation

Job motivation spawns from a variety of employee interests and desires. Motivation comes from the personal desires of the individual but is fostered through organizational pathways. There are many different ways of defining motivation but often motivation includes all reasons why a person chooses to act in a certain manner (Adair, 2006). The most common theories offer some level of insight into motivational factors that lead to higher levels of performance. It is often beneficial to view these various common motivational theories to see a wider picture of the running vantage points and approaches to understanding employees behavior. Each motivational theory has their own particular approach that ranges from group dynamics to fulfillment of lifelong needs. Some are psychological by nature while others look at the organization and its environment as factors. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: Through this theory the needs of individuals progress through different stages based upon their dev