Maintaining The Momentum

Motivation! You start a new job, it’s exciting, everything is new: new people, new tasks, new competition, and possibly a higher salary and/or more benefits. Your goals finally seem in reach. It’s the job that gets your adrenaline flowing and makes you look forward to work the next day…

De-motivation! Months later, that same job is one you dread waking up for. The people, well you know their whole life story, the boss favors them and they’ve been getting rewards that you should have received. The new tasks, well they aren’t so new anymore, in fact, you could probably do them blind folded and its not challenging you in anyway. As for the salary…for the job you’re doing, it’s no longer worth it! Ever been in this situation before? Ever found that once you’ve hit this bump in the  road, you became demotivated and the desire you once had to overachieve is no longer there? Ever quit your job or see employees leave because they felt this way?

The above perceptions can be summarized in John Stacey Adam’s Equity Theory. The Theory is established on the belief that there is a relationship between the employee’s inputs and outputs, which ultimately affects the employee’s perception of their job and their employer. The article, “Managerial Accountants, The Equity Theory, Job Satisfaction, and the Intent to Leave Job” (n.d.,12-14), discusses Adam’s study on Equity Theory. Firstly, Adam states that two individuals have to be introduced (i.e. co-workers), this allows for comparison, whereby, the individual experiencing inequity compares his inputs (skills, time, effort etc.) to that of his co-worker’s, along with comparing his and his co-worker’s outputs (salary, reputation etc).

Adam performed four experiments based on the ratio of inputs to outputs (click here to read the full article and experiments).  Based on the results of his experiments and field studies, Adam later supported the following observations (1965):

1) Increasing inputs will reduce felt inequity if a person’s ratio is greater than another’s ratio.

2) Increasing outcome will reduce inequity if a person’s ratio is less than another’s ratio and vice versa.

3) Individuals may distort their inputs and outputs cognitively.

4) A dissatisfied individual may leave the field by quitting his job, obtaining a transfer and absenteeism.

5) A person experiencing inequity may induce another to increase or reduce his input.

6) When faced with inequity, person may change his referent.

So the BIG question is, how do you avoid inequity and maintain motivational momentum???

I decided to do a bit of research, and found most answers to be the practical and much utilized approaches in the workforce. For instance, the article ” What is an Inequity Resolution in the Workplace”  suggests identifying the underlying problem and taking the essential steps to correct them. They also recommend honest and open communication between the employer and employee.

Other practical and widely used motivational tools include:

  • make the employee feel a part of the company, listen to their ideas
  • give employees credit for work done well and EMPHASIZE IT
  • provide reward incentives, such as bonuses, prizes etc
  • avoid favoritism

However, what I find really motivational are the methods companies, such as the one I’m involved in, utilize:

  • The founders and the rest of the team keep in touch via social media sites, creating an environment where everybody is equal
  • Weekly motivational videos and facebook posts and sent, encouraging us to seek our full potential both within the company and externally. We are also encouraged to see ourselves as leaders.
  • Celebrating everyone’s minor and major accomplishments by highlighting it on social media sites
  • Regular trainings followed by parties
  • Prize incentives that are open to everyone in the company. [ What differs them to other companies, is that the prizes are not limited, regardless of how many individuals have achieved the required goal, each person will receive a car or other such rewards].
  • The work environment is relaxed and everybody is treated like family (even birthdays are recognized and celebrated).

Those are just a few actions employers can take to kick start employee motivation. One interesting method I came across was “ recognizing the employee’s spouse [significant other]” by Mike Michalowicz… think about it… IT’S BRILLIANT! Like Mike says,“Could you imagine every morning, your employee heads to work, while the spouse barks out ‘How much longer are you going to work for that jerk?’ What do you think that does for motivation?  Exactly, it destroys it.” But by building a good relationship with the significant other (by sending birthday cards,flowers etc.) they could end up saying ” I can’t believe how lucky you are to be working for that company”. That just changes one’s perspective completely…doesn’t it?

Like the ones listed above, there are many actions employers can take to solve employee inequity and to build motivation. But when experiencing employee inequity,what actions, if any, can an employee take to get their momentum back and to rediscover the value they once saw in their job?


Adams’ Equity Theory – Leadership skills training from (n.d.). Mind Tools – Management Training, Leadership Training and Career Training. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from

Managerial Accountants, The Equity Theory, Job Satisfaction, and Intent to Leave Job. (n.d.). digitalcommons. Retrieved May 28, 2012, from

Media, D. (n.d.). What Is an Inequity Resolution in the Workplace? | Small Business – Small Business – Retrieved May 28, 2012, from

Michalowicz, M., & Entrepreneur, A. o. (n.d.). The Most Unique Way To Keep Employees Motivated | Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. Cleaning Up In Entrepreneurship | The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. Retrieved May 28, 2012, from

5 thoughts on “Maintaining The Momentum

  1. You make some great points about the importance of managing employee perceptions of equity. I really liked the idea about taking it an extra step further to try to impress the individual’s spouse to make them feel better about there job. It’s simple, yet highly effective and not everyone thinks about things like that. Some analysts even suggest going as far as giving every individual employee significant amounts of company equity in order to make everyone feel like they something significant to gain with better than average performance. Bill Gross is one such analyst as he outlines in an article to Harvard Business Review:

    Great article Clarissa!

  2. Hey clarissa
    I enjoyed reading your post .There are two very interesting points:the importance of managing employee perceptions of equity and regonizing the employees’ spouse.It is ture that if employees feel their human rights being respected (equity),they will feel more motivated to get job done.And,if this job can also have employees’ families feel beter ,employees will have a better mood to do their job and fell very motivated.Some motivated methods you mentioned are very practical and useful suggestions.
    Great post with a lot of resources

  3. I think this is a problem is a lot of organizations. We all see different people advancing, and others not – and sometimes question the rationale. I like the motivational tools you proposed – for example, when you say give the employee credit you should emphasize it – I think you are starting to see it a lot more of this, especially in larger organizations. On intranets and internal publications, more and more employees are being highlighted for successful projects and jobs well done. It is very simple to do, and makes the employee feel more appreciated by the company. I found this video on YouTube while searching Equity Theory and it also puts forward some interesting points. Great Post!

  4. Thank you Alex, Jingyyuyou and Leanne for your comments. The feedback, resources and examples you each proposed were all correct and useful. Leanne, I actually watched that youtube video before writing this post 🙂 You are right, many organizations are utilizing those methods more often. I think, we are in the age, where direct sales and MLM companies have been growing significantly, thus, motivation tools have become more commonly used, in order to keep the independent representatives driven; which has probably led to many organizations and stores implementing those methods.

  5. The point of taking care of the significant half is something new and it takes someone who is really careful with the details to be able to do this. I have read a book on how to persuade people and author wrote a story about a Japanese senator built his reputation by paying close attention to his competitors’ and allies’ wives. When he travels and meets these people, he would call these people’s wives or send emails to them and tell them their husbands are doing fine and it was great seeing them. When the husbands get home, the wives would tell them how great it was to receive the call from the senator. This is just one strategy to build a good image and thus the senator has more allies in his field, which is really important in politics. Managers going the extra step for his/her employees could have the same effects as well. This as you said could lead to better motivated teams for the company. This is also part of the psychology studies.
    Great point Clarissa!

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