In contradiction with Maslow and Herzberg who discussed internal needs and what efforts are used to fulfill them, Vroom’s expectancy theory separated effort from performance and outcomes. The expectancy theory states that behavior resulting from effort is made consciously in an attempt to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. This means that employees choose their behavior among a list of alternatives. Effort, and as a result, performance is not similar for every employee. Employees efforts are based on personality, skills, knowledge, experience and their ambition to perform. Thus, the expectancy theory states that different employees should have different goals and should be motivated with certain expectations.

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Expectancy Theory as It Applies To Compensation

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According to Vroom, motivation relates to the decision of how much effort an employee ought to put when they are performing their daily duties. While some employees have their motivation, it is often best if an organization or a business takes the initiative to ensure that its employees remain well motivated throughout their careers. The flow of work is described by expectancy theory. First, the employee must put effort. The amount of effort put towards their work then determines their overall performance. Performance, good or bad determines the outcome. A good outcome usually leads to a reward (Green, 1992).

The expectancy theory as it is explained above is beneficial to leaders and Human Resource management as they try to come up with ways to motivate their employees. Leaders have to understand that an employee’s motivation must come from an idea that they will gain something when they put maximum effort in their work to ensure great performance. Leaders use the expectancy theory which dictates that when employees believe that increased effort and as a result increased performance will be rewarded greatly. This means that expectancy theory explains the need for compensation. Compensation may be monetary or otherwise. Each specific business shod come up with specific compensation programs that cater to the needs of all its employees.

To motivate employees, the business must be financially stable. Employees feel more motivated to work for an organization they believe will last for a longer time. A business that suffers from financial instability is not only unable to properly compensate employees for their efforts, but also lacks the necessary up to date resources that employees may need to perform their duties effectively. Skills also enhance expectancy theory. This is why organizations take their time to train employees regularly. Employees may be motivated by new skills gain. The business may also provide new compensation opportunities for employees after they have been trained by increasing their responsibilities and their pay as well. Employees’ performance is often based on the expectation that there will be a reward for their effort. Also, if employees are under the impression that more effort will lead to a greater reward, they become more willing to go beyond what they have previously done (Bhattacharya, 2010).

While compensation is often given in the form of monetary value, this is not always the case. This means that employees may be motivated if they expect that their increased efforts will lead to compensation regarding promotion, education or more flexible working hours. The expectancy theory is about what expectations employees have when their efforts are increased or maintained at high levels. Praise is always a great compensation that works to motivate employees in their place of work. For instance, being branded as the employee of the month is a good feeling for many employees. As a result, those who have been branded work hard to keep the title while the others work towards dethroning those holding the title. If employees expect to be compensated due to their exemplary performance, they tend to put in more effort in their work.

  • Bhattacharya, A. (March 18, 2010). Expectancy theory. Nature, 464, 7287).
  • Green, T. B. (1992). Performance and motivation strategies for today’s workforce: A guide to expectancy theory applications. Westport, Conn: Quorum.