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Understanding Employee Motivation

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A horse can be taken to the water but it cannot be forced to drink; it will drink only when it feels thirsty. Same is the case with humans. They will do what they themselves desire to do or are otherwise motivated to do. When it comes to excelling on the workshop level, they must be motivated or driven to it, either by themselves or through external stimulus.

Today keeping staff motivated has become a priority for most organizations. According to Berry, (2006) “these days employers focus more on pragmatic benefits that keep staff motivated”. According to Strickler (2006) “managers continue to believe that by pushing the right motivational buttons they can motivate (manipulate) workers into doing more of what management wants”. The purpose of this essay is therefore to explore the extent to which this is true. Furthermore, the purpose of this paper is to understand what motivates employees to perform at work. We will use examples from Fujitsu Services’ employees to see what stimulates them to perform and how these can be related to the theories of motivations that have existed for the last 50 years. This paper will show that there is no simple defined levers that managers can rely on to motivate their employees to perform.

Theories of motivation and how they apply

Once, employees were considered just another input into the production of goods and services. What perhaps changed this way of thinking about employees was research, referred to as the Hawthorne Studies, conducted by Elton Mayo from 1924 to 1932 (Dickson, 1973). This study found employees are not motivated solely by money and employee behavior is linked to their attitudes (Dickson, 1973). The Hawthorne Studies began the human relations approach to management, whereby the needs and motivation of employees become the primary focus of managers (Bedeian, 1993).

This paper looks at what motivates employees at Fujitsu Services, a leading IT services company operating in Europe, Middle East and Africa. They design, build and operate IT systems and IT services for large scale clients in both the public and private sectors. Their core strength is the delivery of IT management and outsourcing services across applications, datacentre, networking and desktop environments. Their business approach is based on establishing long term relationships that builds on success and mutual benefit

Firstly we will begin by exploring the method of motivating via the right button versus motivation with reward/punishment.

The extent to which the right motivational buttons can be “pushed” is limited. Managers who opt for this style of motivating their employees will find themselves in a position where employees will have an “expectation” for a reward in exchange for increased performance. Furthermore the manager would have to put extra effort to identify what would be considered a reward for each employee as this may not be the same for everyone. Taking this factor into consideration, the “right buttons” would have to be explored with each individual. To do this the manager would have to take a personal interest in their employees, but this may not always be possible, especially if the job is demanding and there is not much time for social interaction. Furthermore, people’s interests change continuously therefore the motivational buttons identified at a particular time may not always be the same. Organizations may use this strategy to get a desired outcome. If the strategy is applied carefully, it might get the desired high performance output from employees, but caution must be applied, and as already stated it is not always possible for managers to properly understand what will drive employees.

To explore the method of motivating via reward, which can be related to Vroom’s expectancy theory, which is based on the belief that employee’s effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards, this can be positive or negative (Vroom, 1964), we will look at how Fujitsu Services implements this. For example, in 2003, a Bonus scheme was introduced and made available to “all” employees, making Fujitsu Services one of the few companies who offer a Bonus Incentive to all employees. This bonus scheme is linked not only to the performance of the company but also to the performance of employees.

Employees can get 5% of their annual salary if their own performance in their role exceeded an “Exceeds” PAC rating used in the annual performance appraisal. An “Exceeds” PAC rating is awarded to an employee when it is felt that that employee continuously exceeds in achieving the departments objectives. This can be seen as going the extra mile in your role. However, there is a second requirement to be met before they can qualify to receive the bonus. That is, their absence from work must be less than 90 days in a year.

There are a number of problems that can arise from this approach. The first one being, if the company does not meet its targets even though employees may have worked harder to get the bonus, there is a chance that the scheme will not pay out and in this case employees who have come to expect the bonus would be de-motivated to sustain high performance and performance levels may drop. The second problem is with employees who are on long-term sick, and therefore exceed the 90 days absence, may feel discriminated against for being absent and may not feel motivated to work for such an employer and their absence may also increase.

In order to identify other ways of motivating employees besides financial reward/punishment, it is essential to look at other theories of motivation.

The Instrumentality Theory is based exclusively on a system of external controls and fails to recognise a number of human needs, which contrasts to the “Content Needs Theory” developed by Maslow (1943), which stresses “that basic needs of employees must be met otherwise further attempts to motivate will be flawed” (Rosenfield et al, 1999). Herzberg’s two-factor theory categorised motivation into two factors: motivators and hygienes (Herzberg et al, 1959). Motivator or intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, produce job satisfaction. Hygiene or extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, produce job dissatisfaction. To realise the importance of what Herzberg believed are the key motivators, a couple will be explored briefly.

With regards to the theory of recognition



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