Posted: August 29th, 2013
EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION AND PERFORMANCE
The motivation of employees is very significant to every organization. Greatly motivated employees have proved to have better performances than poorly motivated employees. The following paper discusses the various theories on motivation that have been derived by different scholars over the years and how they can be incorporated in creating a strong motivational approach in a given organization. It is necessary for each organization to compensate the deficiencies in one approach by using the strengths in another approach.
Human beings have been known to improve on their performance after being motivated or when there is something motivating them. During the warring periods, soldiers were known to chant songs when approaching a battle field as a way of motivating their spirits. In the African communities, workers in the fields sang songs in unison as a way of motivating themselves. This same motivation is needed and used in the workplace although it is done through different approaches. Different scholars have come up with theories, which will be discussed later, explaining what motivates employees and how they can be motivated further. People such as Frederick Winslow Taylor, Elton Mayo, Abraham Maslow and Frederick Herzberg have all come up with different theories that show the different things that motivate employees (Gasper, 2010). In some cases, some scholars have come up with theories to prove the previous theories wrong. For example, Mayo disagreed with
Motivation can be defined as a process that controls, elicits and encourages the maintenance of certain behaviors (Latham, 2007). With this in mind, motivation is used to encourage respectful behavior and keep employees focusing towards certain directions. Although motivational talk is one way of keeping employees motivated, different scholars have analyzed other ways that can be used to keep employees motivated and thus making them better workers, performers and better people as a general.
FREDERICK WINSLOW TAYLOR
According to Taylor, who lived between 1856 and 1917, workers’ main motivation was their pay. His theory focused on Scientific Management. He first stated that workers needed close control and supervision as they did not naturally enjoy work (Griffin & Moorhead, 2010). In order to make work, control and supervision easier, it was necessary that the employees break down the assigned responsibilities into smaller tasks. Since effectiveness and efficiency was the significance in every task performed, the appropriate training and tools would be needed. He encouraged the employees to provide these resources. He further stated that workers/employees should be paid in accordance to the number of items produced by each in a given period. This meant that he advocated for the price-rate pay. As a result of this mode of remuneration, workers would be encouraged to bring forth more output in order to gain more pay.
During this period, many businesses adopted this approach of employee motivation. This is because the employers were experiencing the benefits of having high productivity with less unit cost. Henry Ford used this mode of motivation when he designed his first Ford cars production line (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor, 2010). Although this approach was adapted during this era of mass production, it was later rejected by most employees as it posed them as a little more than machines. It was linked to the autocratic mode of management where the managers were viewed as the sole decision makers while the employees were simply there to take orders. It also portrayed employees as though there were simply lazy people who repelled responsibilities.
This was one of the scholars who disagreed with Taylor’s approach of motivating employees. He did not believe that the workers’ main concern while working was their pay. During his life, which was between 1880 and 1949, he came up with what he considered as an improved approach of employee motivation (McShane & Glinow, 2005). He stated that employees would be better motivated if their social needs were taken into consideration within the working environment. He encouraged managers to take more interest in their employees. This meant that they had to put more interest in the employees as people with normal social needs and not just as mare workers. During this course, the Human Relation School of thought was introduced.
Mayo’s approach encouraged the managers to interact with their employees and the employees interacted with zone another. It also encouraged the managers to hear and value the employees’ opinions, suggestions, comments and grievances. To prove his approach viable, Mayo experimented with the Chicago based Western Electronic Company. He isolated two groups of workers of female gender and then altered their lighting and working conditions. He expected to have declined productivity levels as the situation worsened but to his dismay, their productivity levels either remained constant or improved.
With the observations made in this experiment, Mayo came up with a number of conclusions as to ways of improving workers’ motivations. First, he advocated for better communication. This was mainly between the workers/employees and the managers. This meant that managers were encouraged to ask for the employees’ decisions before undertaking crucial decisions. Secondly, he encouraged the managers to be more involved in the employees’ lives as far as work was concerned. Lastly, he encouraged group and teamwork rather individual performances and competitions.
Abraham Maslow, who lived from 1908 to 1970 and Frederick Herzberg were responsible for the Neo-Human Relations School. This was in the 1950s. This School concentrated on the psychological needs of the employees. Maslow mainly expanded on Mayo’s approach of and concluded that the motivation in employees is derived from the five levels of human needs (Griffin & Moorhead, 2010). According to Maslow, the motivation factor is determined by the level at which an employee is. Employees progress in the given hierarchical order. An employee is motivated by the upper level once the previous level is fulfilled.
The five level needs are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and the self actualization in an ascending order. The physiological needs include hunger, thirst, clothing, shelter and education. Employees are mainly motivated in fulfilling these basic needs. Maslow believed that one can only think of fulfilling other needs once these needs are thoroughly fulfilled. The safety needs include security and protection. This is when one decides to not only find a home, but find it in a secure neighborhood. The employer can also decide to put up other security devices and measures. Such neighborhoods and devices are more expensive thus the employees are motivated to work harder in order to achieve this.
Once these needs are fulfilled, the employer feels that he/she needs to be loved, love and have that sense of belonging. This includes attending social functions and engaging in other social activities. At this point, food and security are no longer a problem but rather the issue of ensuring that one is socially acceptable. People tend to spend more on such functions and thus this becomes a motivational factor. Once this employee becomes social, he started looking for means of raising his/her self esteem and status. Wealthier people are highly regarded in the society more than average earning or low earning people. This acquisition of status and acceptance becomes the motivational factor at this level. It is when one reaches the self actualization that one tends to take a different turn. For example, people have been known to leave well paying jobs and take up lesser paying or regarded jobs since it gives them more satisfaction. The self actualization level motivates the employee to do activities that bring the inner satisfaction thus provoking better performances.
Although this approach of employee motivational may be disputed, those following this approach have found it easier to recognize the level of an employee and thus motivate them in accordance to their level. For example, an employee who was jobless before will almost expect even a lower pay that what is given to those in his level since his main goal is just to get the basics of life. On the other hand, the chief executive of a large company will be motivated by being awarded responsibilities that give him the inner satisfaction, since they are mostly at this stage.
Maslow’s Hierarchy Need Structure
Herzberg, who was born in 1923, believed in a theory of motivation that was two-factored although he was linked closely to Maslow. He believed that if managers would apply certain factors, the employees would be motivated directly. He called these factors motivators. On the other hand, he stated that there were other factors, which could be applied thus de-motivate the employees. These factors were referred to as hygienefactors (Latham, 2007). According to Herzberg, motivators are about the actual work while hygiene factors are about the factors surrounding the job. For example, employees will be directly motivated by the promotion, responsibility, recognition opportunities and the level of interest the work brings. On the other hand, employees are encouraged to come to work depending on the pay and the comfort (good working conditions) at the work place. However, these hygienic factors do not encourage employees to work harder.
In order to provide solutions to the rising problems, Herzberg encouraged managers to follow the following approaches. First, he advised on job enlargement. Workers during Taylor’s period complained on the monotony and the boredom at the workplace due to performing the same tasks over and over again. Job enlargement includes offering more responsibilities even though they may not necessarily be challenging thus enhancing the excitement when working. This would act as a motivator. Secondly, he encouraged the managers to involve job enrichment. This was about engaging the employees with tasks that were more challenging, interesting, and complex. These would surround a complete unit. When all these were accomplished, the employees would have a sense of achievement, which was greater than before. Lastly, he encouraged the managers to empower the employees more (Griffin & Moorhead, 2010). This meant that the employees would be able to make their own decisions rather than being totally dependent on their superiors.
By reviewing each and every theory, it is evident that they can all be integrated in order to make a stronger employee performance motivation tactic for an organization. Taylor believed that pay, especially when paid in piece-rate, was the main motivator in employee performance. Mayo believed if managers would take care of the employees’ social needs and treat as people rather than mare workers, than they would be motivated to perform better. Maslow believed that the main motivator in an employee was his/her level of need. Herzberg approached this situation by realizing that it was necessary to distinguish between motivators and hygienic factors. By doing this, managers would be able to understand the factors to dwell on as motivators.
By considering the pay, social needs of the employees and the work itself and treating the employees respectfully, managers would greatly motivate the employees. Many companies have incorporated teams and groups as part of motivating the employees. Short time goals and targets have been set in managing the tasks to be undertaken in a specific period. Pay-rise takes care of the level of needs as employee might be in that period. Employees are encouraged to give their suggestions, opinions, comments and grievances either directly or through a representative before major decisions are made (Pride, Hughes & Kapoor, 2010). For example, the incorporation of workers union has played a major role in ensuring that the workers needs and grievances are not overlooked.
Companies have known to organize sporting activities and other forms of promoting talents among the employees. This motivates the employers to explore their other abilities outside the responsibilities they have in the working area thus they become better persons both at work and in the society. Promotions, better remuneration, performance tokens and awards are incorporated as a form of motivation. Although Herzberg insists that decent working conditions only encourage employees to look forward to working, it is significant to note that they play a crucial role in motivating the employees in the workplace. For example, if an accountant reaches the workplace and finds a smelly dirty office, he/she may be totally de-motivated to attaining the set target of the work to be accomplished in that day. On the other hand, if the same accountant comes to the same office the following day and finds a clean, fresh smelling office, he/she may even exceed the set target. The working environment is conducive and accommodative.
Motivation is extremely crucial in the workplace. The four scholars discussed above show tackled the motivation issues with different approaches. If companies could embrace the suggestions given by each scholar and use them in their measures, then the organizations would have strong motivational approaches. Performance and mainly dependent on how motivated the workers/employees are. The lesser they are motivated, the poorer their performances, which ends up affecting the whole organization.
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