Unlocking employee motivation : an explanatory sequential mixed methods study examining the impact of a career development program on employee motivation.


This explanatory sequential mixed methods study aimed to understand the effect and influence a Career Development Program (CDP) had on the basic need satisfaction and autonomous or controlled motivation of individual contributors in a medium-sized software company operating in the United States. In 2022, the United States economy continues to attempt to recover after the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States experienced a significant increase in employees electing to leave their current jobs in search of better work-life balance, remote working opportunities, and job satisfaction (Ellerbeck, 2022). A recent survey shows that nearly one in every five employees will likely resign from their current employer within the next 12 months (PwC, 2022). These statistics illustrate a growing need to ensure employees feel invested and motivated at work. Furthermore, employees with high intrinsic motivation also have high job satisfaction and low turnover intention (Deci et al., 1989; Kalgin et al., 2018; S. Kim & Park, 2014; Nie et al., 2015). Kim and Park (2014) also found that extrinsically motivated employees demonstrated the same desirable outcomes at work for lower turnover intention and high job satisfaction. This study included three phases, quantitative, qualitative, and finally, the integrated mixed methods phase. The first quantitative phase of the study consisted of data collection using Gagné et al.’s (2015) Multidimensional Work Motivation Scale (MWMS) to assess the participants’ controlled and autonomous motivations before and after program participation. After the quantitative data collection and analysis, the second qualitative phase explained the quantitative results with the participant’s perceived need satisfaction and motivation after program participation. Finally, the study looked at both data sets and integrated the results for analysis as a cohesive whole. The study found compelling evidence to support a career development program’s ability to increase controlled motivation and satisfy the basic needs of competence and relatedness. The participants reported feeling positive job-related outcomes, high job satisfaction, low turn-over intention, and higher productivity because of the program. The results highlighted the efficacy of using a well-designed career development program to motivate and engage employees.