By Charles Albano

Does motivation lead to productivity, as is commonly thought – or is the reverse true – that productivity, (being and feeling productive) leads to motivation?

According to most researchers there is a positive relationship between motivation and productivity. That is to say, when motivation increases, we should expect productivity to rise as a result. This reflects the belief that an increased motivation level causes an increase in productivity – a direct cause and effect relationship. What is more, managers I have discussed the belief with share it at a gut level. Management trainers accept the belief as an article of faith.

But the reverse may also hold true – the satisfaction people derive from being productive can spur them on to increased effort, consequently increasing their level of productivity. Note how the variable of job satisfaction creeps in as a moderating (intervening) factor. Nothing is ever as simple as it appears.

All considered, I see motivation and productivity as being mutually causative. I regard them as interactive. One impacts on the other, then the other impacts on it in turn, or even simultaneously. They feed off each other.
How about the relationship between morale and productivity? In my mind, the term “morale” is not the same as job satisfaction. It is a much broader concept that includes far more than job satisfaction alone. It includes the environment, satisfaction with one’s boss, fairness and equity, satisfaction with pay and benefits, satisfaction with co-worker relationships and so on.

So morale does not equate to job satisfaction, but it does relate to it insofar as it may include one’s sense of being productive as one of the numerous composite factors. Morale is an overall emotional sense of well being. Nevertheless, high morale does not, in and of itself, (cause) high levels of productivity. It is possible to have low morale and high productivity, or high morale and low productivity.

I know this may seem counter-intuitive at first blush, but imagine an office with a country club atmosphere, one where social enjoyment takes priority over task responsibilities. While workers there may respond enthusiastically and cheerfully to their environment, they may not be particularly productive.