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Motivating Employees through Training and Benefits


This research paper discusses the generational groups of employees, their characteristics, and three common motivational theories used in Canada and how diversity affects these theories. These theories are then expanded and used in the training and development of employees and then utilizes compensation, benefits, recognition, rewards, employee engagement to attract and retain skilled employees. This is crucial for the success of any Canadian organization in today’s competitive environment.

Define Motivation

In the business world, motivation is derived from a thought process both conscious and unconscious for a (1) desired need to perform a job, (2) an incentive or reward to achieve a goal, and (3) the expectations set onto the individual.

Internal and external factors impact this behavior by empowering an employee to be committed to a job, role, and task and engages them to achieve desired goals.[1]

To explore motivation further, one must understand the theories of motivation. The next section will explain three motivational theories used in Canada.

Three theories of motivation

In this section we will be providing information on three motivational theories used by organizations in Canada.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Abraham Maslow (1908–1970), an American psychologist at Brandon University created a motivation theory called “Hierarchy of needs theory”. This theory is based on five needs which are:

1. Physiological needs — Food, drink, shelter, sexual satisfaction, and other physical requirements.

2. Safety needs — Security and protection from physical and emotional harm, as well as insurance that physical needs will continue to be met.

3. Social needs — Affection, belongingness, acceptance, and friendship

4. Esteem needs — Internal esteem factors such as self-respect, autonomy, and achievement, and external esteem factors such as status, recognition, and attention.

5. Self-actualization needs — Growth, achieving one’s potential, and self-fulfillment; the drive to become what one is capable of becoming.

These five hierarchy needs form a pyramid in which each level must be satisfied before the next level is activated. Maslow’s theory proposed that none of the needs are fully satisfied but once a need has been substantially met, then it will no longer motivate behavior and the next level of the pyramid becomes dominant. The pyramid starts from the bottom up as each of the needs are met. To motivate an individual you will need to understand what level the person is at on the hierarchy pyramid and then satisfy their need at or above that level.[2]

Herzberg’s two-factor theory

Frederick Herzberg (1923–2000), an American psychologist and University of Utah professor of management created the two-factor theory (known as the motivation-hygiene theory). His theory is split into two categories which are motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators have intrinsic factors that are related to job satisfaction and motivation, whereas hygiene factors have extrinsic factors related to job dissatisfaction.

Intrinsic factors: Examples are achievement, recognition, and responsibility that increases job satisfaction and attribute these characteristics to themselves.

Extrinsic factors: Examples are supervision, company policy, interpersonal relationships, and working conditions for dissatisfaction at work.

Herzberg also indicated that when you removed dissatisfying characteristics from a job, it would not make the job satisfying and failed to motivate. This created a dual existence whereas the opposite of “satisfaction” is “no satisfaction” and the opposite of “dissatisfaction” is “no dissatisfaction”. He believed that managers who eliminate the factors of job dissatisfaction did not necessarily keep their employees motivated.

To motivate employees in the workplace, managers should focus on motivators such as achievement, recognition, and challenges that increase job satisfaction.[3]

Four-Drive Theory

Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, Harvard Business School professors developed the four-drive theory. Four motivation categories that interact with each other at varying degrees depending on the individual’s external circumstances. The four drivers are the drive to acquire, to bond, to learn, and to defend.

The first three drivers are what we as individuals are always trying to fulfill independently of each other. When there is a domination of one drive over the others then it could lead to an imbalance in our personal and work life.

The four categories are further explained below:

· The drive to acquire: is the competitive drive for material goods, status, accomplishments, and power. This drive can lead to both greater performance and negative competition, so organizations can use the drive to bond to help minimize unhealthy competition.

· The drive to bond: is the social side of the equation, whereby we try to bond with others and engage in mutually beneficial relationships. These individual relationships can grow to include cooperation and collaboration with groups and teams in the workplace, especially when supported by team-based rewards and challenging goals.

· The drive to learn: is the drive to satisfy curiosity and understand ourselves and the world around us. This drive is part of our need for growth and self-actualization discussed earlier in Herzberg’s two-factor theory. A work environment that allows for the exploration can provide higher satisfaction, and learning new skills can be of greater importance than pay for some employees.

· The drive to defend: is about self-protection. You may have faced the “fight-or-flight” or “dog-eat-dog-world” response when defending yourself from danger, but perhaps also in relationships or your beliefs. This drive is the only reactive one and is typically triggered by threats. Communication can be used to correct employee misinformation that might cause unintentional threats in the workplace.

Each drive feeds into the motivation indicator which in turn is influenced by environmental factors such as social norms and previous experience and personal factors such as mental models and personal values. Once the environmental and personal factors have set in, then the behavior is formed and finally a goal is achieved.[4]

Today most companies are starting to shift their focus from the drive to acquire through pay and incentives to also include the impacts of other drives on employee engagement and motivation. When companies recognize that employees want to bond, they could plan effective team building activities to strengthen relationships and overcome barriers in the workplace.

You now know what motivation is and the characteristics of each of the three theories and we will further explain how they relate to motivating employees in Canada.

Motivating employees in Canada

How does diversity affect motivation?

The first thing a person will relate to when it comes to diversity would be race, however, it is not just that alone, differences in age, culture, religion, sexual orientation, and physical ability are present in a diverse workplace. Within each of the differences there will be temperament and other personal qualities from an individual standpoint which adds to the challenges of managing a diverse workforce.[5]

To understand diversity, managers will need to be aware of the ever-changing differences and how to motivate these differences to the specific individual and not to use a once size fits all approach.

Which theory(s) could you apply that would be effective in the following categories?

Millennials born (1980–2000)

Millennials are confident, can multitask, a need for achievement, and a strong focus on civic duty. They need to be provided with learning opportunities and be involved in social or civic duties.[6]

When you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Millennials say they want meaningful work, recognition, and respect, autonomy and flexibility, a chance to consistently learn and grow, fun with those they enjoy working with and therefore are using the top three of the pyramid; Social, Esteem, and Self-actualization.

Generation X born (1960–1980)

Generation X’s are self-reliant, independent, and require the need for continual learning, challenging work assignments but also desire a balance and flexibility of how and when work is done.[2]

When you look at the Four Drive Theory, Generation X needs the “drive to learn” to satisfy curiosity and to continually learn. They also need the “drive to defend” as they require a balance to the flexibility of work and independence. If not given those opportunities, it could be seen as a potential threat to their self-worth.

Baby Boomers born (1940–1960)

Baby Boomers are hard workers and will do everything in their power to complete jobs. They require flexibility in work and want their contributions to be valued.[2]

When you look at Herzberg’s two-factor theory, baby boomers are motivated by satisfaction factors in responsibility, the work itself, and recognition.

Can you use a theory(s) to generalize a group or is it based on the individual?

As stated earlier, there is no one size fits all approach to apply a theory to a group as each individual will have different needs. The key is to recognize the characteristics and traits of each theory type to assist you in motivating the individual in the workplace.

Now that we know the theories of motivation, and how to motivate diverse groups in Canada, we will need to understand what training is and how motivation impacts training in organizations.

What is training?

Knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA’s) is the process to perform a particular task or job. Employees may require the KSAs so that they can perform their current job capacity or to prepare for a future position or to keep skills current when changes in procedures or practices occur organization.

When training is effective, the employees learn new information and then apply or transfer their newly acquired KSAs to use in their job role.

Why would organizations want to train their employees?

For the organization to become efficient and effective in a competitive marketplace, training provides employees with the ability to maintain old skills or learn new ones, adapt to job changes, and the need to learn to comply with company directives.

How does training motivate employees?

According to the sixth core principle of Knowles’ Andragogical Model of motivation, Knowles states that adults respond to both internal and external motivators such as increased self-esteem, job satisfaction, quality of life, better jobs, promotions and higher salaries. Corporations should create motivation strategies to supply these needs to their employees for them to be efficient and productive in the workplace.[7]

Now that we understand what training is and how it motivates employees, we will further explain the benefits of developing employees through an effective training strategy.

Training and Development in Canada

What are the benefits of training and development?

Training provides the employees with knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are developed to meet corporate objectives. The goal is to prepare an employee for a future position, within the organization. Employee development is a key aspect of an organization’s ability to plan for the future and to retain skilled employees. A Leadership Development program or Supervisory Management Skills workshop are examples of development programs.

How to develop an effective Training Strategy

There are four steps that you need to take to develop an effective training strategy which is: Analyze your needs, identify skill gaps, prioritize, and finally plan and deliver the training.

Now that we understand effective training strategies to develop our employees as a motivational tool, we will now explain how to attract and retain employees in Canada through compensation, benefits, recognition, rewards, and employee engagement.

Attraction and Retention in Canada

Compensation and benefits

In Canada, businesses offer compensation packages that are in addition to the wage or salaries that employees receive. The types of benefits may include group insurance (health, dental, vision, life, etc), disability income protection, retirement benefits, daycare, tuition reimbursement, sick leave, vacation (paid or not paid), funding of education, as well as flexible and alternative work arrangements.[8]

Providing such benefits may seem expensive, but they are a key motivator factor related to acquiring and retaining skilled employees. Businesses have had to become very creative in building their compensation packages. They are dealing with competition and with four generations of workers in the workforce who all have different needs.

Here are some advantages of offering compensation packages:


· Employers can recruit and retain highly skilled employees by offering access to flexible benefits

· Providing these benefits may be seen as high risk but turn out to be a low cost to the company’s financial burdens.

· Studies have shown that providing flexible compensation packages has increased productivity as it provides the employee with security for themselves and their families.

· Premiums are tax-deductible and provide savings to a corporation


· Employees have peace of mind knowing that they and their families are protected in any mishap.

· In case of serious illness or disability, employees have the additional protection for loss of income when not able to go to work.

· Employees are motivated and show loyalty with the quality of benefits offered.

Recognition and awards

Today Canadian businesses tend to overlook the impacts of morale in their productive workforce. Having good moral refers to how your employees feel about their jobs, you and your business. This can directly affect your bottom line and the current and future success of your business.

So the next question would be: “What contributes to good morale in the work environment?”

The common misconception is that good employees care only about money. Money is important, but many things contribute to an employee’s morale. For instance, do your employees feel:

· Treated fairly and respectfully?

· Valued and appreciated?

· Recognized, and possibly even rewarded, for their work?

Employees who do not feel valued and appreciated will either contribute less effort as time goes on, or leave to other organizations including your competitors where they will feel appreciated.

Everyone likes to have achievements and efforts recognized. Even though personal satisfaction is usually generated from within ourselves, it is always more meaningful if someone else notices and shares success. Thus the concept of recognition and rewards.

Rewards can motivate and encourage employees to contribute to their success and that of your business. Your organization must ensure that your recognition and reward programs fit the culture and image of your company.[9]


1. Achievable: Set achievable standards. If it can’t be accomplished, it becomes a de-motivator.

2. Objective: Tell employees exactly what it takes to achieve a reward or recognition.

3. Sensible: Include rewards that are logical motivators. If you are in your busy season, don’t award additional time off if your schedule can’t tolerate it for another six months.

4. Timely: Waiting too long to deliver a reward or recognition will lessen the impact.

5. Useful: If possible, measure and reward something that helps to produce useful business results.


· Productivity/quality

· Customer service

· Peer recognition

· Superior performance or extraordinary achievement

· Safety

· Length of service

If you wish to attract, recruit, and retain good employees, fair and respectful treatment is a given. This will lead to employee engagement which will be discussed in the next section.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is defined as one who is enthusiastic about their work and takes a positive action to further a company’s reputation. This begins before an employee is hired. Organizations will word their recruitment advertisements in a way to attract the right kind of people suitable for the position offered.

Mary Karamanos, Senior Vice-President, Human Resources at BDC. States “The best employers focus on engagement”. (Karamanos) Engaged employees are productive and motivated to serve clients positively. When organizations communicate openly, share information, ask for feedback, and are honest will engage employees to succeed. This would in turn allow the corporation to effectively serve its clients and meet corporate objectives.[10]


For Canadian businesses to be competitive and successful in today’s changing work environments, they would need to learn the motivational theories and adapt their concepts for each generational gap but also account for the increasing diversity from immigration. Development of effective strategies to motivate their workforce through training, development, compensation, benefits, recognition, rewards will engage their employees to perform at their best. This in turn will generate positive morale and make the organization a desirable place that everyone will want to work for. The result would drive the business to become the top leader in its industry.


“Motivation”. n.d. Web. 25 May 2016. <>.

Hierzberg, F., B. Mausner and B. Snyderman. The Motivation to Work. New York: John Wiley, 1959.

Karamanos, Mary. Employee satisfaction: Money isn’t everything. n.d. 26 June 2016. <>.

Kistler, Mark J. “Adult Learners: Considerations for Education and Training.” Adult Education and Retraining February 2011: 28.

Lawrence, P. R., and N. Nohria. Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002.

Maslow, A. Motivation, and Personality. New York: McGraw Hill, 1954.

Morgan, Scott. How to Motivate a Diverse Workplace. n.d. 1 June 2016. <>.

Recognition and Rewards. n.d. 29 June 2016. <>.

Schmidt, Rosa. Motivating a Diverse Workforce. 25 June 2012. 29 May 2016. <>.

Unknown. Compensation & Benefits. n.d. 28 June 2016. <>.

[1] “motivation”,

[2] Maslow, A., Motivation and Personality, 1954

[3] Hierzberg, F.; Mausner, B.; Snyderman, B., The Motivation to Work, 1959

[4] Lawrence, P. R.; Nohria, N., Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, 2002

[5] Morgan, Scott, “How to Motivate a Diverse Workplace”,

[6] Schmidt, Rosa, “Motivating a Diverse Workplace”, June 25, 2012,

[7] Kistler, Mark J., “Adult Education and Retraining”, Adult Learners: Considerations for Education and Training, February 2011, Volume 86, No 2, page 28

[8] “Compensation & Benefits”,

[9] “Recognition and Rewards”,

[10] Karamanos, Mary, Employee satisfaction: Money isn’t everything,



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