What Is Expectancy Theory?

The Expectancy Theory provides an explanation of why a person may choose one behavioral option over another. The idea with this theory is that people are more likely to be motivated to do something because they think their actions will lead to their desired outcome.

Expectancy Theory

This theory implies the motivations of people are influenced by what they expect. If a person’s expectation are not met, he or she may become a dissatisfied employee and presume their efforts have been delivered in vain, without appreciation, and without their desired outcome. This theory suggests individuals make decisions about their behaviors based on their expectations of desired outcomes.

There are three factors for the behavioral-result relationship:

Performance Effort expectations:

Refers to employee belief that working harder will lead to increased and/or positive work performance results. For example, if a person believes that work harder should lead to higher performance results, and he/she does not receive as expected, his/her work efforts may diminish in result of this.

Performance Reward:

Refers to employee belief that increased work performance will lead to positive rewards, such as tangible rewards like money or intangible rewards like (achievement or recognition). The performance reward is a strong indicator of how vital effective performance effort is in producing employee desired results.

Reward value:

Refers to the employees perspective on how valuable the reward is to the employee. An employee’s willingness to increase work performance is typically determined by the reward offered and the extent to which the employee considers the reward of value to him/her. For example, one employee might consider a tangible reward like (money) worthwhile and another employee might consider an intangible reward like (recognition) worthwhile. If an employee is offered recognition, when he or she is expecting money, his or her efforts may diminish.

In conclusion, employee’s level of motivation (effort) are not only defined by rewards, but are equally connected to their expectation to receive rewards that are valued by the employee. When each of these condition are achieved, employees are more likely to be motivated to expend greater effort in the workplace.

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