What is the Difference Between Motivation and Morale?

Difference Between Motivation and Morale

Motivation and morale are two important elements in building a successful work environment. Both of these can contribute to increased productivity and low employee turnover in the long run. However, there are slightly different from one another. Morale refers to a sense of enthusiasm and encouragement in employees, whereas motivation refers to an individual’s drive to complete a task.

Motivation and morale – Meaning

Motivation is an internal mechanism that results in a person’s willingness to dedicate time and energy to an organization’s needs. Many behaviouralists, such as Maslow and Herzberg, have studied the subject of motivation and found that the ultimate goal of motivation is to work for the improvement of the organization and the individual.

In other words, motivation is concerned with developing desire and energy in people so that they maintain their interest and dedication to a job or function or make an effort to reach a goal. There can be two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation derived from outside sources. Employees can be motivated, for example, by giving incentives or promotions to them. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to motivation that stems from self-satisfaction, for example, when you find a job interesting and enjoyable. It should be noted that intrinsic motivation is preferable to extrinsic motivation. And factors that motivate one person may or may not motivate another.

On the other hand, morale is described as the level of an individual’s satisfaction with his job, his workgroup, his superior, the organization for which he works, and the environment. It mainly refers to an individual’s sense of comfort, contentment, and satisfaction. In other words, morale is the mental state of individuals and groups that dictates their attitude.

There may be two possible states of morale: high or low. High morale is indicative of the following:

  • Employees who work well together
  • Employees perceive organizational commitment and a sense of belonging
  • Identifying and resolving conflicts as soon as possible
  • A workplace that is both healthy and safe
  • Organizational communication that is effective
  • Productivity will rise
  • Increased motivation

On the other hand, low morale will indicate the following:

There are many grievances and disagreements in the organization

  • Employee absenteeism and turnover rates are high
  • Disagreement with superiors and employers
  • Working conditions are bad
  • Employee dissatisfaction
  • Productivity has decreased
  • Motivation is lacking

Differences between the two

Though motivation and morale are concepts that are closely allied, they differ in the following ways:

  • Motivation and morale are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, an individual’s level of performance is a result of both motivation and morale; the former affects what one will do for the organization, while the latter defines what one can do.
  • While motivation is an individual’s internal-psychological drive that encourages him to behave in a certain way, morale is more of a group phenomenon.
  • Morale is usually an outcome of motivation. Higher motivation usually leads to higher employee morale, however high morale does not always translate into highly motivated individuals. This is due to the fact that having a positive attitude towards all aspects of the work situation by itself doesn’t compel individuals to perform more efficiently.
  • Morale is a group concept, whereas motivation is an individual one. Hence, motivation considers individual variances or differences among employees, and the morale of employees can be boosted by considering those aspects that influence the group’s situation or overall work settings.
  • Most of the time, motivation and morale go hand-in-hand. When people have high morale, they work harder and are more driven to attain goals; there is also an improvement in productivity and quality of work. At the same time, when workers have low morale, they tend to work less, there is a lack of motivation, and production and quality of work suffer. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule and this may not be true in every circumstance. In some cases, highly motivated people who work harder to attain goals may have low morale. Negative circumstances such as job uncertainty and fear of the boss may motivate these people to work harder. In these cases, motivation is high, yet their morale is low. Similarly, there may be a situation where employee morale is high but motivation is low. Employees may be fully satisfied with the work environment and surroundings but they can’t align their personal goals with organizational goals, thus holding them back to put in their best efforts to work.
  • Motivation is the major concern in every organization, however, morale is a secondary concept because high motivation fundamentally leads to higher productivity, although high morale may or may not lead to higher productivity.
  • Things that are linked to morale are usually those that are simply part of the work environment, but things that are linked to motivation are related to an individual’s performance.

The differences between these two terms are compiled in the table given below:

An individual’s drive to complete a taskA sense of enthusiasm and encouragement
Affects what one will do for the organizationDefines what one can do
An individual’s internal-psychological driveMorale is more of a group phenomenon
A major concern in every organizationSecondary phenomenon
Factors that are related to an individual’s performanceFactors that are usually part of the work environment
This leads to higher productivityIt may or may not lead to higher productivity
Higher motivation usually leads to higher employee moraleHigh morale does not always translate into highly motivated individuals


These two words are not interchangeable. However, it cannot be denied that a motivated group of employees normally has a high level of morale. Morale is the collective attitude of all the people who work for a firm. It is produced by the group and may be regarded as a by-product of the group. It does not represent an average of individual attitudes.

Morale is described as “a pleasing attitude of satisfaction with a desire to continue in, and the readiness to strive for, the goals of a certain group or organization.” Simply said, morale is a collective concept, whereas motivation is mainly an individual concept. Morale is the aggregate of employee feelings (as a group) towards many aspects of their employment, the firm, working environment, co-workers, bosses, and so on. If employee feelings towards all of these factors are more positive than negative, the group’s morale is known to be high; otherwise, it is low.

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