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The Importance of Inspiration in a Work Environment

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Role of motivation in management

There can be no success without motivation. Many famous life coaches and motivators travel the world telling people that they have to be passionate about what they do in order to do it right and succeed. (Robbins, A., 1986) Performing well without motivation is still possible, but the result will never be as satisfactory as it would be if only you had drive and passion. To understand why some people can motivate themselves while some others need external stimulus to do anything, we should first meditate on human nature. Motivation is part of a person’s character and, just like beauty or directness, it is a gift one can either receive when they are born or develop in time.

Now, motivate and driven people will always deliver better results than unmotivated ones, which is why it is crucial that a good manager should be able to inspire and breathe hope, boldness and passion in their employees.

That might sound like an easy thing to do, but very few professionals are experienced, skilled and sensitive enough to do that. One effective tool managers use to make the most out of their employees’ skills is job enrichment. Every human possesses a number of abilities and enabling them to express not one, but many of them have been found to be excellent ways to motivate employees.

Unlike job enlargement that has to do with the number of tasks every employee is supposed to perform, job enrichment is grounded on two main principles: quality and challenge. (Herzeberg, F.I., 1987) According to Stuart Crainer (2000), management is an invigorating and challenging art that consists of both theoretical and practical aspects. However, when it comes to the business world, management should be active and not theoretical, which is why it is important to analyse the way the principles, rules and theories that make management are applied to practical situations in order to understand their true meaning. Virgin Group LTD is a perfect example of healthy and successful management, as it is one of the world’s largest companies with a workforce of around 50,000 employees.

Whether these employees are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated is one of the questions I am going to find an answer to throughout the present essay.

Depending on a company’s specific needs, field and goals, one could either motivate employees “externally”, by rewarding and/or penalising employees, or benefit from their intrinsic motivation, which highly educated people are more likely to possess. (Deci, E., & Ryan, R., 2002)

Observing the strategies Virgin Group LTD adopts to motivate employees and achieve both employee satisfaction and job enrichment will help us understand what makes a company successful and how relevant the role of a manager can be within a company.


There are companies that aim at cutting down on costs in order to be competitive instead of increasing profits. Now, provided that no accusation can be made towards such companies, for the simple reason that the world of business is highly competitive and consists of so many different situations, one aspect should be considered: someone who is looking for a job will hardly be interested in joining a company that is known to cut down on human resource-related expenses, like Irish low cost airline company Ryanair does on a regular basis, for the simple reason that they know they might lose their job or be relocated every now and then and this lack of stability wouldn’t certainly help them build the career they dream of.

Over the last few years, in fact, Ryanair has been cutting down on additional human costs by applying several smart strategies. For example, the company official website allows passengers to check-in online before the flight and print out their boarding passes, which, in terms of costs, means that Ryanair has inferior check-in desk-related costs.

While Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, aims at reducing expenses so as to be highly competitive in offering customers low cost flight tickets, other companies aim at growing and expanding.

Such companies, like Virgin Group LTD, are usually run by visionary businessmen who believe in quality, diversification and dynamism. It goes without saying that such companies receive thousands of job applications every month, inasmuch as they offer employees better stimulus and prospects.

Founded by Richard Brenson, Virgin Group LTD’s core business areas include entertainment (music and films), travel, leisure, lifestyle, transportation, gaming, consumer electronics, cosmetics, internet, house ware, financial services and many others.

With so many diverse businesses, any job seeker will find at least one field that is compatible with their qualifications.

Virgin’s official website allows people to search for jobs within the company by entering specific keywords, so they can easily find any vacancies in their field and area of interest.

Every job ad explains what the offered job is about, specifying salary details, responsibilities, role goals and requirements.

After reading through a few dozen job ads, one can not help but notice that there is a number of personal qualities Virgin Group LTD deems very important.

Self-motivation is one of them, especially when it comes to executive and managerial roles. Other noteworthy requirements are: strong personal drive, high personal standards, proficiency in planning, ability to meet deadlines, analytical skills, problem solving skills, open-mindedness, mental flexibility and, last but not least, ability to motivate others. ¹

In return, the company offers the employee a fixed salary plus benefits, the opportunity to travel and build a career in their area of expertise.

Now, if we think of the hundreds of employees Ryanair has been letting go and relocating over the last 7 years and draw a comparison between its way of doing business and that of Virgin Group LTD, in terms of stability, motivation and growth opportunities, the second obviously gives a feeling of safety and dynamism, two factors that job seeker value greatly.

We may observe that there are three fundamental concepts Virgin Group LTD job policies revolve around: job enrichment, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

The company, in fact, requires its employees to be intrinsically motivated, yet rewards them in several ways, by offering them benefits, training courses and interesting opportunities that fit their psychological needs. Self Determination Theory, also referred to as STD, explains the above process in detail and, according to Deci and Ryan (2002), it is the most successful motivation strategy a company could adopt, as it ensures better results whilst preserving the employee’s wellness and psychological health, as shown by the studies conducted by Pritchard, Campbell and Campbell (1977) .

While intrinsically motivated people perform a task for the sake of it, extrinsically motivated individuals initiate a certain activity exclusively to achieve an external goal.

STD, on the other hand, implies internalisation, ergo the transformation of external motives into personal values, as to achieve optimal results, not only at work, but also in school. (Jang H., 2008)

By making each employee feel part of a whole and aligning their goals and expectations with those of the company, Virgin Group LTD is sure to apply STD to its way of managing human resources.


Motivation is a complex concept that covers many aspects and can be driven by different motives, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. However, by drawing a comparison between two successful, yet very different companies such as Virgin Group LTD and Ryanair, we could observe that intrinsic motives play a primary role, especially when integrated with extrinsic stimulus, as observed by Basset-Jones Nigel and Lloyd George (2005).

According to them, in fact, Herzberg’s two-factor theory can be still considered relevant in contemporary organisations, despite dating to the late 50’s. (Herzeberg F. et al., 1959)

Giving employees and candidates the opportunity to work for a company that is involved in many different businesses, that respects the individual and gives excellent career prospects is what an ambitious individual, regardless of their specialisation, would like for themselves. Over the years, Virgin Group LTD has always provided motivators whilst satisfying the fundamental hygiene factors theorised by Herzeberg (1959), which is why the company, today, counts over 50,000 employees and is appreciated by consumers for the excellence and convenience of their services and products.

If an ambitious individual who reckons the importance of diversification and dynamism was to choose whether to work for a company like Ryanair and Virgin Group LTD, it is highly likely that they would send their resume to the second, for the simple reason that it offers the opportunity to build a career whilst making the individual feel part of a dynamic whole that is embodied by Richard Brenson, a man known for his amiable qualities, such as zeal, enthusiasm and boldness.

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