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Workplace Motivation

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Organizations include many different types of people and personalities that in turn create a need for different types of motivational strategies. In our organization we have three types of employees that we work with: salespeople, production workers, and administrative staff. We will be discussing which motivational theories affect each group and why it impacts each group differently.

Production Staff

The production staff in our organization seems to be motivated best using "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" theory. This theory states that a person has five levels of needs in order for a person to be motivated (Shermerhorn, 2005). The five levels are physiological, safety, social, esteem and self-actualization. Although some people have argued that this theory lacks merit on the basis that people don't necessarily follow a step by step method of motivation, the basic principle is sound. Maslow stated that people must have his/her lower level needs met before moving on to the next level. Although all employees are different, the needs discussed in this principle are definitely applicable within our organization.

The first level on the lower-order needs is physiological. The production workers within our organization are not highly paid employees. These employees are unskilled laborers that have very limited schooling. Most of the workers need this job just to provide the basic needs for their families. We are a manufacturing company that needs to remain competitive in the market in order to keep jobs. This job provides for the first level of need according to Maslow's theory.

The second level of need is safety. The employees need to feel they are safe in the workplace both physically and interpersonally. We provide a safe working environment in which to work which meets the physical portion of the need. We have a safety committee that helps us to maintain job safety because we value our employees and their well-being. Employees are treated respectfully and as a valuable part of the team. Without the production workers our company would not be profitable. We work to encourage the workers and use their inputs to improve processes on the lines.

The third and final level in the lower-order is social. People generally strive to have positive relationships with their co-workers and the management staff. Personal relationships are an important part of working as a team especially when you work along-side others for several hours a day. Employees need to know they can trust others and many have become good friends. When an employee does not feel a part of the team, they tend to withdraw and this causes their productivity to fall off. When one team member needs help the others notice and do what is necessary to meet the demands.

The first level on the higher-order is esteem. Once an employee has the lower-order needs met they move up and have a need to feel respected by others. Having the respect allows their self-esteem to grow. Employees in this level need to be recognized for their contributions. The company works hard to recognize the employees that are demonstrating competence in their work and doing very well. Recognition in our organization comes in the way of rewards like employee of the month. We choose an employee each month that has demonstrated proficiency and leadership qualities. This employee gets perks for the month, they are selected and receive passes to a movie for him/her and one other person. This technique seems to create competition within the company and is really appreciated by the workers. We also offer other incentives for the employees to motivate them to perform in order to be recognized.

The last level in Maslow's theory is self-actualization. When a person reaches this level their need to move up the ladder increase and he/she wants to do more. The employee begins to be restless in their current position and try to achieve a promotion in order to be challenged. People have a natural tendency to want to better themselves for many reasons. Primarily these employees want to use their abilities to the fullest extent. These are the people we look to as team leaders. We have several team leaders within our organization that are in charge of certain jobs or portions of a job. Giving employees new responsibilities helps them to realize their potential and motivate others with their success. At this stage the employee has an opportunity to fulfill their personal goals and feel good about their accomplishments.

Maslow's theory is easily implemented within an organization no matter what the size. In the life of a production worker, motivation is not easy to achieve which is why an organization needs to be aware of the needs employees have. When a company does not recognize the basic needs that people have, the organization misses a great opportunity to gain the loyalty of an employee. People that have their basic needs met are likely to remain with a company and do the job to the best of their abilities. In production, having employees that are loyal keeps the lines functioning smoothly and efficiencies are realized.

Administrative Staff

The administration staff in this organization appears to be motivated most effectively when properly utilizing the Expectancy Theory. Since administrative staff is generally regarded as more of a "behind-the-scenes" workforce, it is important to maintain high levels of motivation. After all, sales people can easily be motivated by sales goals or commissions earned on sales. Likewise, production staff can be motivated by the amount produced or amount earned based on production. Administrative staff however, can be perceived as doing well only when everyone else in the organization has what they need. Therefore, it is important as a manager to regularly interact with the administration personnel in order to best understand what the employees' needs are and what motivates them. It is also important that they understand the correlation between efforts and performance (Stuller, 2004). Another important aspect of the Expectancy Theory is ensuring that our organization has a good grasp on the three distinct perceptions that make up the equation (Sholl, 2002). The three perceptions consist of expectancy (probability), instrumentalism (performance), and valance (value). Each of these perceptions must have a worth or the equation will equal zero. This equation (Motivational Forces = Expectancy X Instrumentalism X Valance) is the foundation of the motivational theory.

For the motivational aspects of the expectancy theory to work properly, a manager has to take a realistic approach to quantifying the administration staffs' abilities in order to set goals, develop effective rewards, and understand the value of those rewards each employee



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