Operant conditioning is a psychology concept that involves using rewards and punishments to influence behavior. It focuses on how the consequences of behaviors influence the chance of behavior repetition, with positive reinforcement increasing the likelihood of behavior repetition, negative reinforcement removing or avoiding unpleasant stimuli, and punishment decreasing the frequency of behavior occurrence. Operant conditioning allows for the molding and control of behavior in a variety of circumstances by manipulating consequences.
In the workplace, operant conditioning can be seen in a variety of ways shaping and influencing employee behavior. Consider a company's sales crew as an example. The management institutes a commission-based reward system in which employees receive monetary bonuses for hitting or exceeding sales targets. This positive reinforcement motivates people to work harder and strive for higher performance. As a result, individuals who consistently meet their goals are more likely to repeat their high-performance behavior, resulting in improved productivity and motivation among the team.