Discussions and concerns about motivating the employees in any working entity have been in existence since long. Different people have had different takes on how to motivate the employees and keep the working environment balanced. Some have said that incentivizing the employees is what keeps them motivated while some say that inducing competition is the perfect way of motivating employees to perform to the best of their abilities. In midst of numerous theories- the Equity Theory of Motivation by John Stacey Adams has garnered many supporters.
In this theory John Stacey Adams explains how focusing just on the pay and the working conditions in a business entity are not sufficient to determine the overall motivation levels. John Stacey Adams is a behavioral and workplace psychologist who gave rise to this theory of job motivation back in 1963.
According to Adams, there are certain variable and subtle factors which affect an employee’s overall perception of their relationship with the work they do and their employer. And paying attention to these factors is the key to motivating employees.
The basis of the theory comes from the belief that de-motivation creeps in when an employee feels that his inputs are higher/ greater than the outputs he is receiving out of it. Maintaining an equity or balance between the input and output received is the sole purpose of stipulating the Equity Theory of Motivation.
What Stacey is calling out for is the entities to strike a perfect balance between the inputs of the employees (that is, the hard work, the tolerance level displayed, effort etc.) and the outputs (salary, intangibles, benefits etc.) they receive.
Application of the Equity Theory:
In applying the equity theory one has to first estimate the employee’s level of job satisfaction and motivation; and then work on promoting it. But to strike the balance between the input and the output levels one needs to understand them.
According to Adams the Inputs from an Employee Typically Include
Effort, loyalty, commitment, hard work, skill employed, flexibility and adaptability, tolerance, ability and determination, enthusiasm of working, personal sacrifice, and the trust in superiors/ support in colleagues
On the Other Hand the Outputs Include
Financial rewards such as the salary paid, perks and benefits.
Intangibles in the output side include- recognition and reputation earned, responsibility assigned, the sense of overall achievement in the workplace, praise garnered, sense and scope of growth and job security.
According to the equity theory then, an employee will have a sense of contentment and thus be perfectly motivated only when he/ she feels that the inputs he is giving out are balanced by the outputs he receives.
What the firms/ employers are to do in such situation is to access the employees on these factors/ parameters and provide them with appropriate payouts/ outputs. It is also stated that it is the responsibility of the managers to ensure that the employees have a sense of balance in the cycle of input and outputs. Also note that the points of output and inputs mentioned above are not exhaustive of all situations and individuals.