Reinforcement Based Approaches to Motivation

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“Reinforcement contingencies are the possible outcomes that an individual may experience as a result of his or her choice of behavior”. There are four of these: positive reinforcement, avoidance, punishment and extinction. (Croft n. d. ) These contingencies are associated with B. F. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning. One of Skinner’s most important achievements was his theory of operant behavior. . Skinner discussed basic operant principles and their application to human behavior. Topics include “self-control, thinking, the self, social behavior, government, religion, and culture.

” (Cheney and Pierce 2004) Positive reinforcement is frequently used to reward positive outcomes after a desired task is performed. This intends to reinforce the desired behavior. Avoidance happens when an individual chooses a specific behavior to avoid the negative consequences. Punishment is used to correct unacceptable behavior and extinction is meant to end the perceived undesirable behavior. Bringing the Reinforcement Theory into practice, a company may use positive reinforcement in the form of pay incentives to acknowledge a job well done. The company may also use sanctions to correct unacceptable behavior among their employees.

They may use four approaches when considering reinforcement. A fixed interval schedule provides reinforcement at fixed intervals of time regardless of behavior; A variable interval schedule provides reinforcement at varying time intervals; A fixed ratio behavior is administered after a predetermined response is gathered; and variable ratio schedule is where the reinforcement is given after a varying number of correct responses. (Croft n. d. ; Theories of Motivation n. d. ) People are motivated quite differently just as the needs of every individual differ from each other.

This is evident in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or Aldefer’s three tiered needs. Motivation comes in two forms: intrinsic or extrinsic. But it is safe to conclude that the way people behave is frequently influenced by how motivated they are. People’s needs take primacy when it comes to creating motivators. It would be quite difficult to motivate individuals who are already satisfied. When providing motivators to effect positive behaviors in organizations, managers must consider that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as integral to each other.

Management must also consider that people have different needs and wants. To elicit effective positive behavior, management must identify what specific needs should immediately be addressed in order to achieve positive results. The Findings: Advantages and Disadvantages of Work-Life Balance Balance is achievable but it takes several factors to make the work-life balance programme goals work. As discussed in the earlier sections, there are mitigating factors that influence the decision of companies to incorporate work-life balance programs into their business strategies.

The employees are the prime movers of the company and a dissatisfied work force is always disadvantageous and costly to companies. In some aspect, work-life balance also poses a challenge to the management and human resource professionals. First, the work-life balance programmes have the propensity to alter existing business practices. Second, altering prevailing management practices will entail some costs on the part of the management. When companies decide to cut down on expenses, they frequently look to the human resource department to reduce costs. Eventually, some managers will deem work-life balance programmes as cost-ineffective.

While work-life balance reduces the workload of the employees to attend to other concerns, it also has repercussions on career advancement. Often, employees availing of less work hours are placed in tasks that are less critical to the company’s overall productivity. Dick and Hyde (2006) observed that compared to full-time workers, the reduced-load workers had limited access to promotions and trainings because most of these scheduled programmes did not coincide with their schedules. Moreover, when promotion time came, reduced-work load received cold reception from employee performance evaluators (p. 346-347).

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