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Employee motivation profiles, energy levels, and approaches to sustaining energy: A two-wave latent-profile analysis
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-11-03, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103659
Stacey L. Parker, Niamh Dawson, Anja van den Broeck, Sabine Sonnentag, Andrew Neal

Human energy is often viewed as a limited resource, that is depleted through effort expenditure at work, and subsequently needs to be replenished either during or after working. Self-determination theory, however, argues that individuals vary in the degree to which work is experienced as draining: autonomous motivation makes work seem effortless; while controlled motivation makes it effortful. As employees can endorse multiple motivations for work, we examined how motivation profiles are associated with energy levels directly and indirectly through approaches to sustaining energy (i.e., energy management strategies and recovery experiences). Latent profile analysis with two-wave data revealed four profiles (i.e., amotivated, amotivated/external, highly motivated, and autonomous). Time 1 employee motivation profiles were used to predict outcomes at Time 1 (N = 551) and Time 2 (N = 391). Overall, amotivated employees had the lowest energy levels and autonomous employees the highest (i.e., more vigor, less exhaustion, less need for recovery). Autonomous and highly motivated employees used more work-related energy management strategies and less detachment, compared to the other profiles. The differential use of work-related strategies partially explained differences in vigor by Time 2. Profiles that used relatively less detachment experienced less favorable energy levels over time. Interestingly, by Time 2, autonomous employees detached more than highly motivated employees, which explained their increased vigor over time. Taken together, our research shows that employee motivation can explain individual differences in energy levels as well as approaches to sustaining energy. Advice on how to manage energy and recovery would benefit from considering the configuration of employee motivation.