Organizational Productivity and Employee Motivational Levels, Research Paper Example
Words: 7638Research Paper
Topic of Research
Productivity in the workplace is essential for organizations to reach goals to achieve objectives and organizational productivity has been a common topic of research in recent times. This topic of research has been shown to be tied to how much an organization’s employees are motivated to align themselves with the organization’s goals and objectives. More than ever, companies need to focus on acquiring and retaining a good and productive workforce to remain competitive and sustainable (Takash) in the business world, as employees of today have more options, interests, and access to information than ever before. One critical component to achieving this is through effective employee motivation. Motivating employees is strategically aligned behavior stimulation that effectively aligns employees’ actions with the strategic goals of the company (van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra), which is important to the company’s success.
The current topic of research involves an in-depth view into the details surrounding employee motivation, as this is vital to any business. A motivated workforce means a highly productive staff, which will help the organization achieve its business goals. This research examines various motivators that influence employees to take action, be better workers, and strive for personal and professional growth. With this in mind, it will be shown that companies benefit when its employees are motivated. Employee motivation includes implementing such elements as empowerment, recognition, monetary incentives, standard benefits, fringe benefits, work/life balance, training and learning opportunities, advancement opportunities, etc. into the work culture and standards (Njanja, Maina and Kibet). Companies should pay close attention to what employees need and want and structure motivational efforts toward their interests. This will, no doubt, encourage a sense of company loyalty among employees because they will feel like they are valued (van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra).
However, some motivational factors may work better than others, as every employee is different. For example, money has always been a major factor to employee motivation and retention; however, times are continually changing and money may not be the most important motivating factor for employees anymore. Contemporary motivational approaches have undergone an evolution from motivational approaches of the past in that they are more focused on a combination of things that motivate employees. For example, many people may be able to relate to times in the past when employees were motivated by longevity with the same company and retiring from that company after many years of service. Today, employees often do not stay with the same company for twenty or thirty years, as businesses often change and evolve, which often changes the structure and dynamics of a company, causing layoffs and downsizing. Because the workforce is constantly changing, as the millenniums are becoming a significantly large chunk of the population, what motivates them might not be the same as what motivated employees twenty or thirty years ago. Research has shown that organizations of today have realized this and are becoming more creative with their employee motivation programs. This in turn equates to smoother operations, increased productivity, and more profit for companies because motivated employees are satisfied employees who are more loyal and willing to do their best at their jobs, as will be shown in this paper.
Purpose and Research Question
The purpose of this research is to examine various companies and analyze their employee motivation programs. In addition, the research will show how employee motivation, and optimizing this motivation, is an important aspect of leadership responsibilities within an organization to ensure a healthy, professional, and productive working environment.
Various research studies have been presented on the topic of employee motivation, which is interesting to note, as the current research analyzes a portion of these studies to reach relevant conclusions to answer the following research question:
How effective are the measures companies take to keep their staff productive?
As will be explained in the methodology section, this research analyzes existing relevant literature on the topic of organizational behavior, based on the research question, with an in-depth look into the particulars of employee motivation and how and why it works. Additionally, key characteristics of good motivational leadership in organizations is analyzed to support the findings. Following is an outline of the structure of this thesis.
Structure of the Thesis
Literature Review: The thesis starts out with a review of relevant literature that analyzes and explains the importance of employee motivation and the benefits it brings to an organization. It continues with an in-depth view of organizational behavior theory and how individuals and groups are motivated to work hard as well as go beyond what is expected of them.
Case Analyses: This section analyzes three creative and well-known companies, namely, Zappos, Aflac, and Google as well as their employee motivation strategies. These three companies were chosen because they have found ways to cater to the new generation of employees in a successful and creative way.
Research Methodology: This chapter outlines the research approach and research strategy of this thesis, as well as data collection and analysis methods used to conduct the research of the study.
Research Findings: This chapter outlines the research approach and research strategy, as well as data collection and analysis methods used to conduct the research of the study. Finally statistical results of the impact that motivation programs have on employees is highlighted.
Discussion and Conclusion: This chapter includes the conclusion, discussion of findings, and possibilities for future study. Additionally, limitations of the present work is outlined.
Strategically Aligned Employee Behavior
It is no secret that strategy in business is a key component of an organization’s path to acquiring a competitive advantage in its industry. This is why a company’s business strategy is vital to its success, and employees that are aligned with that strategy are vital to a company. Research shows that when organizations ensure that its employees are fully trained and developed, they are better able to contribute much to the company’s overall growth. In order for employees to be effectively aligned with a company’s strategy, however, they must exhibit behavior that shows that they are strategically focused on taking actions that line up with the objectives of a company’s strategic goals. How employees behave in the workplace is important because they are the backbone of the business. Employee behavior that is aligned with company objectives ensures the company’s optimal organizational performance, which can translate into efficient operations and higher profit margins. Additionally, strategically aligned employee behavior hinges on stimulating employee motivation initiatives within a company, such as those that help develop employees’ capabilities (van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra).
According to van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra, indicators that influence employees’ strategically aligned behavior includes an organization’s leadership’s willingingness to explain business processes and status rationales to employees and to be open with them. Employees like to know that they are important enough to be kept in the loop of how things are going with the company, instead of being kept in the dark. Other indicators that affect employees’ strategically aligned behaviors include participative decision making, supportiveness, stimulating involvement, sufficient resources, and sufficient training. Additionally, the importance of allowing employee contributions to organizational performance and overall strategy, as well as sharing information with them and discussing strategy, to allow them to assist colleagues and other employees is noted. In short, generally, the climate of communication in the organization and employee motivation are influential in the employees’ behavior being strategically aligned with company objectives.
These factors contribute to the employees’ sense of belonging within an organization and gives them the feeling that management thinks of them as important members of the organization and as valued assets. Employees are better able to see the big picture of the organization and how they fit into that picture. This is important to most employees and will motivate them to their best at work, as they are able to better identify with the company and take ownership of how they fit into the big picture of the company’s goals. Additionally, employees are more committed when they take ownership of achieving company objectives that also align with their personal profressional or career growth (van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra).
How Employees are Motivated and How it Benefits the Organization
According to Takash, optimism, encouragement, and honest communication are key factors that motivate people, particuarly in an unstable economy. Employees need to feel secure so that they can offer their loyalty to a company. In recent times, the economic situation of the country has been volatile and fluctuating. In fact, “proactive communication is not only crucial for competent alignment within organizations, but it can have significant impact on the retention of immensely talented contributors” (4). This is why it is important for leadership within an organization to provide consistent feedback to employees, as employees can become resentful when the status of the company is not shared with them. Uninformed people often draw negative conclusions, which affects their performance and morale at work and leaves them unmotivated (Takash). Nobody wants to feel like their company is trying to be deceptive, which is a common assumption of employees when they are uninformed and when there is no transparency within the organization.
Employee motivation is also determined by how leadership interacts with employees during both good times and bad times. It is important for leadership to remain respectful and thoughtful of its employees when under stressful times (Takash). This promotes employee trust and will motivate them in stressful times to remain committed and eager to understand how they can help the company through tough times, rather than jump ship.
Effective leadership is also able to motivate employees by listening to them, as this is essential to ensuring they perform well in those tough times. This is best done when leadership encourages employee diaglogue about how things are going for them and asking them if they have any concerns or questions. Additionally, it is a good idea to eliminate distractions and lead with optimism, as a leader’s attitude and behavior will often rub off on the employees (Takash). It is also important for management to be honest with employees if things are not going so well for the business, instead of hiding the truth and then letting employees down.
Longeneker elaborates on the subject by suggesting that motivating employees includes creating a high-performance climate, which helps improve efficiency. Motivating employees to achieve higher levels of performance requires catering to their needs so that their need-driven behavior aligns with company objectives. This inclues clarifying performance expectations with employees and giving clear feedback and information on how they will be rewarded and recognized. Employees need to know their roles and responsibilities and they appreciate this being communicated to them.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs proposes a human motivation theory that indicates that a person’s basic physiciological and safety needs are linked to organizational culture. Other levels of needs include social needs (love, affection, and belongingness), and then self-esteem, and self-actualization. This theory can be applied to organizational roles and human resource management to facilitate improved employee performance (Jerome).
Additionally, they have expectations as well that include being equipped, trained, educated, and empowered by their employer, as this allows them to take ownership, as noted by Takash, of results from processes in which they had a hand. Furthermore, it is important for management to celebrate success with employees through offering them meaningful incentives (Longeneker). This has a definite link between employee work performance and successful outcomes from organizational results.
Longeneker further proposes that it is important for managers to create results accountability with employees by using meaningful performance measures, providing ongoing feedback, continually coaching employees, and using formal appraisals and performance reviews. These measures, along with giving employees the opportunity to contribute to suggestions on how they can improve their own performance, are results-driven ways of motivating employees (Longeneker). This is another example of strategically aligning employee behavior with the company’s objectives, which also relates to organizational behavior theory, as highlighted in the next section.
Organizational Behavior Theory
Theories on organizational behavior cover understanding how to improve behaviors and attitudes among groups within organizations. The theories also cover how these groups perform within the organization and focuses on the most efficient ways of managing individuals within the groups and the groups as a whole, as well as organizational processes (Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam). It is important for management to understand that a group is only as good and productive as the individuals that make up the group, and behaviors within the group must be managed properly to achieve desired results. This is why the study of organizational behavior theory is important. An organization’s ability to manage behaviors and attitudes within itself has a bearing on its profitability. It is not enough for a company to just have a good product. Without a happy, motivated, and committed workforce, it would be challenging to keep a good product good over time, because motivated workers do better work and vise versa, as mentioned above. This is the reason that if an organization effectively manages its dominant organizational behavior, this can help make a product better over the long term (Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam).
The degree to which an organization is most effective depends on the efforts of motivated employees who take the initiatives to assist coworkers, voice concerns, offer suggestions, submit ideas, and protect the organization, and this shows good organizational citizenship behaviors (Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam). Additionally, this “Good soldier syndrome represents the willingness of people to invest effort and energy in their social environment beyond any formal requirement and with no expectation of formal rewards” (Vigoda-Gadot 49). Thus, organizational effectiveness is accomplished through reaching strategic organizational goals through a process that includes defining the goals, organizing structures within the organization, motivating employees, and monitoring employee performance, monitoring organizational performance, and assessing outcomes (Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam).
How employees behave within the organization has much to do with the context in which they see themselves and the organization. To this end, it is noted that “organizational characteristics as providing context for individual members and the external environment as providing context for organizations” (Johns 386). According to Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam, organizational behaviors are signficant, particularly in the face of uncertain and interdependent organizational contexts. For instance, when certain situations and contexts cause confusion about formalizing roles within the organization, the organization must depend on employees’ efforts to take the initiative through productive organizational behaviors. However, different organizational members are on different levels when it comes to how they behave within the organization. Some will only do the least possible to get by and others will go far beyond what is expected of them and participate in extra-role behaviors to work toward the organization’s strategic goals, which benefits all involved and is in line with organizaitonal values (Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam).
Furthermore, organizational values are directly related to organizational citizenship behavior that is discretionary, which means it is not directly rewarded or recognized but can still contribute to the function of the organization to increase organizational performance. As it relates to organizational values, organizational citizenship behavior is affected by how employees perceive social workplace values, which can be perceived as the core of the culture within an organization. These values are acceptable standards that govern individuals’ behavior within the organization. This also relates to how employees perceive how they fit into the organization, which basically means how they identify with the organization. Employees need to feel like vital parts of the whole. This is something that is of value to employees, as it gives them a sense of worth, pride, and respect for the organization (Ye), which is significant to overall organizational citizenship behavior, and makes it less likely that they will be lured away from the company by the company’s competition. This is significant, as it is better to retain good employees than to have to retrain new employees after good employees quit.
Organizational citizenship behavior, according to Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam, as suggested by Organ, Podsakoff and MacKenzie, “is composed of five dimensions, namely: Altruism, Conscientiousness, Sportsmanship, Courtesy and Civic Virtue” (50). This is significant to note because it is important for a company to understand the details of organizational citizenship behavior to be able to apply its principles strategically. Altruism includes behaviors that focus on specific employees within an organization and assisting them with up close and personal situations with organizational problems or tasks. With this, discretion is used to ensure that employees feel comfortable and respected. Conscientiousness focuses on behaviors of an impersonal nature, for example, valuing norms within an organization and employees going beyond their usual requirments to accomplish tasks. Sportsmanship deals with encouraging workers to focus on not being complainers about petty matters. Courtesy focuses on actions that considers the feelings and needs of others before taking action or making decisions. Civic virtue focuses on keeping abreast of important matters of the organization. Employees should be sure to manage their schedules so that they are able to attend meetings on time, contribute to discussions and be involved in organizational activities (Bambale, Shamsudin and Subramaniam). These behaviors impact employees’ perceptions of organizational values, which in turn can integrate with their organization-based self-esteem (Ye).
Organizational-based self-esteem is “the degree to which organizational members believe they can satisfy their needs by participating in roles within the context of an organization” (Ye 37). This is an important value that employees place emphasis on, as it “reflects the perception individuals have of themselves as important, meaningful, effectual, and worthwhile within their organization” (38). This encourages employees to actively participate in organizational-related activities and behaviors that are of value to the organization. This, in turn, can also have a positive affect on employee retention within a company, which is also related to organizational behaviors among employees who exhibit civic behavior such as helping a new employee settle into the organization. When employees help each other, it can give them a sense of belonging and fosters good corporate culture. This type of motivation is voluntary cooperation on the part of the employee through good organizational citizenship behavior that shows the tendency of the employee to be one to go above and beyond what is required in a job description, which shows the employees intention to remain with a company (Paille). Finally, organizational behavior theory is basically the science of how employees behave within the organization, a social science, as Miner states that “Theory is the cornerstone of any science” (5).
Organizational behavior among employees is also influenced by factors that may work against their companies’ motivation efforts. These factors include social and economic influences inside and outside of the companies. For example, the economic downturn from the stock market crash of 2008, no doubt, affected how many employees felt about the security of their jobs, which likely caused doubts and hesitation to work as hard, not knowing the fate of their jobs.
Emotional intelligence is another theoretical concept that that relates to organizational citizenship behavior and is defined as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Titrek, Polatcan and Gunes 212, as quoted by Salovey and Mayer 189). Emotional intelligence plays a significant role in organizational culture and how companies motivates employees in that it allows employees to gain confidence in their abilities and it also empowers them to make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. This, of course, means that a company’s management approach should foster practices that empower employees and lead them to reach new levels of improvement both professional and personally, specifically when their improvement aligns with company objectives. Factors that contribute to employee emotional intelligence within an organization include personal competencies such as self-regulation, self-awareness, and self-motivation, as well as social competencies such as social awareness and social skills (Titrek, Polatcan and Gunes). The focal points of emotional intelligence are the personal, emotional, social and survival aspects of intelligence, rather than the cognitive aspects of intelligence. Emotional intelligence is sometimes more significant to an employee’s ability to function on a daily basis. “Emotional Intelligence is concerned with understanding oneself and others, relating to people, and adapting to and coping with the immediate surroundings, which increases one’s ability to be more successful in dealing with one’s environmental demands” (88). In addition, it is significantly influenced by variables such as employees’ attitudes and dispositions more so than their skills, abilities, and knowledge (87). This ties into the concept of organizational behavior theory in that emotional intelligence is a significant driver of behavior within the organization, and employees often make decisions on how to behave based on their emotions or how they feel about a certain thing of situation.
As noted above in the thesis structure, this section analyzes the three well-known companies, namely, Zappos, Aflac and Google and examines their employee motivation strategies. The three companies are used in this research because they have found ways to cater to the new generation of employees.
Zappos.com, Inc. is a successful online shoe retailer with a somewhat eccentric employee culture. The company was founded in 1999 by Nick Swinmurn who became frustrated when looking for a pair of shoes and could not find what he needed. He started the company with a vision that included foreseeing that at least 30% of all US retail transactions will be made online at some point in the future and people will want to purchase from the online retailer with the best selection and service. Mr. Swinmurn was determined that Zappos would be the online retailer of choice when it came to purchasing shoes with the fastest delivery times (Zappos-1).
Zappos Employee Motivation Strategy
The success of Zappos can be attributed to it’s the development of its culture, brand, and business strategies, which are directly connected to the company’s ten core values. These core values are 1) delivering “WOW” through great service; 2) embracing and driving change; 3) creating fun and a little weirdness; 4) being adventurous, creative, and open-minded; 5) pursing growth and learning; 6) building honest relationships; 7) building a positive team environment and family spirit; 8) doing more with less; 9) being passionate and determined; and 10) being humble (Zappos-2). The execution of these core values is driven by the company’s employees, who are driven by how the company motivates them to perform at their best and deliver the core values.
The company’s CEO is Tony Hsieh who motivates employees through his uncommon leadership style, which has recently changed into a Holacracy—“a manager-free operating structure that is composed, in theory, of equally privileged employees working in task-specific circles, often overlapping” (Feloni). This is a strategy to drive continued growth through taking employee motivation to another level, above and beyond the benefits and perks offered to employees.
Zappos has an extensive list of perks and benefits that are designed to keep employees happy and to motivate them to deliver the company’s core values. In fact, Zappos has been recognized as a 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune magazine for six consecutive years (Zappos-3). This, no doubt, is attributed to its great benefits and perks that the company offers to its employees. Among some of the best benefits and perks offered include (Zappos-3):
- Medical: free medical insurance, free prescriptions, on-site health screenings
- Dental: free dental insurance, orthodontic coverage
- Vision: free vision insurance, free eye exams
- Fitness: on-site fitness center, on-site fitness classes, endurance event reimbursement program
- Nutrition: weight management programs, free healthy food options, free vending machines, on-site café
- Additional Perks: employee assistance program, rewards and recognition programs, nap room, on-site concierge services, transportation incentives, mother’s rooms
- Financial: matching 401(k) program, paid time off, paid maternity/paternity leave, flexible spending accounts, employee discounts on merchandise, disability and life insurance, employee housing benefits
- Fun: petting zoo, makeshift bowling alley, karaoke, robot popcorn machine
These are but some of the benefits and perks offered to employees by the company in the effort to keep them happy and motivated. Another way that Zappos CEO motivates employees is through offering new employees a $2,000 cash option not to take the job after being there for three weeks, as he says that he wants Zappos employees who are committed to “live the brand” (Ridgeway). The focus is on integrating employees who already live the culture in their personal lives with the company core values instead of having a separation of work–life. According to Hollender, Hsieh proposes that motivating employees through the positive culture at Zappos makes for passionate employees who perform well.
Aflac is American Family Life Assurance Company with headquarters located in Columbus, Georgia. The company was founded in 1955 by three brothers—John, Paul, and Bill Amos and is a leading provider of insurance in the United States and Japan. The current CEO of the company is Daniel Amos and the president is Paul Amos II.
Alfac is a Fortune 500 company with more than $118 billion in assets and is a company that offers supplemental insurance products and is committed to such factors as a healthy environment, sustainable business practices and its employees (Aflac-1).
Aflac Employee Motivation Strategy
Aflac’s website states that the company is committed to making sure employees are treated like family in “a supportive work environment with excellent benefits, competitive salaries, and award winning resources” (Aflac-2). Aflac has ranked in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for from 2012 to 2015, which shows that its employees rate it highly. This company motivates its employees with professional challenges, a great atmosphere, rewards and perks, excellent communication, instilling pride, and a great management team. Employees spend time together and are often recognized and given awards that include cash, merchandise, and company stock. In addition, the company hosts Employee Appreciation Week at the CEO’s home (Great Place). Aflac CEO, Daniel Amos, uses an empowerment approach to motivating employees. Instead, he probes employees to help lead them in strategic directions. He states that he is not into micromanaging and allows employees to have ownership, which makes them accountable and responsible (Reiss).
One of the most compelling ways in which Aflac motivates its employees is by recognizing performance in “highly visible ways”. This is a strategy that targets the employees’ drive. Additionally, employee events such as Employee Appreciation Week creates culture-building and bonding for employees and includes such activities as ice skating, theme park or baseball game trips paid by the company, daily snacks, movie night, and branded gifts. Additionally, Aflac invests a great deal of time and money into employee training and development, which allows employees to grow and meet personal and professional goals. Aflac is also committed to its employees’ quality of life by offering work/life balance oriented benefits and perks (Nohria, Groysberg and Lee), which include (Great Place) (Aflac-2):
- Company paid health coverage
- 401(k) match of up to 6%; profit sharing
- Paid time off
- Adoption benefits
- Onsite child-care facilities
- Health clinic and health screenings
- Fitness center and walking trails
- Employee discount programs
- Educational scholarships
- Onsite café with entertainment center
- Financial assistance for emergencies
- Free beverages during the day
- Take-home meals on a regular, daily basis
- Onsite package/mailing service
- Discount ticket sales
- Subsidized lunch on a regular, daily basis
- Personal concierge service
- Massage therapy
- Flexible schedules with compressed workweeks
- Elder care resources
- Lactation rooms
With a list like this, it is no wonder that Aflac’s employees rate working for the company very highly, as it is evident that the company values its employees, which makes them happy and happy employees work better, as mentioned above. Aflac’s employee motivation strategies have, no doubt, contributed to its success in generating more than $25 billion in revenues annually (Aflac-2).
Google, Inc. is a company that started out as a search engine but now offers a variety of products (e.g., Chrome and Android), services (e.g. search engine optimization and ad campaigns), and tools to help entrepreneurs and businesses succeed on the Internet, as well as offline. Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and is headquartered in Mountain View, California (Google-1).
Google is has extensive expertise in motivating its employees, as evidenced by the company being named the “Best Company to Work For” in 2014 (for the fifth time) by the Great Place to Work Institute and Fortune Magazine (Great Place). This is due to its more than 50,000 employees worldwide rating them very highly. Google pampers its employees and allows them to create while offering input with their ideas.
Google Employee Motivation Strategy
Part of Google’s success in motivating its employees relates to its inclusive and diverse working environment. Google’s employees are from all over the world and speak dozens of languages and they have varied interests outside of work, which makes for a very diverse group. Additionally, Google favors employees’ ability over experience and, according to their website, they thrive on hiring smart people who are determined to succeed. The culture is open and all employees are hands-on contributors who share ideas and opinions (Google-1).
Benefits and perks offered to motivate employees include flexible spending accounts, company-paid health and dental insurance, 401(k) plan, vacation packages and tuition reimbursements. In addition, Google goes to great lengths to make its employees happy with extended benefits and perks such as those below (EI).
- Legal expenses reimbursement of up to $5,000
- Maternity leave of 18 weeks with 100% pay. Parents given up to $500 for take-out meals for first 3 months at home with the baby (Take-Out Benefits).
- Adoption Assistance
- On-site car wash, oil change, bike repair, dry cleaning, gym, massage therapy and hair stylist
- Onsite doctor and free fitness center and trainer
- Laundry facility
- Free lunch and dinner prepared by gourmet chefs
These are but some of the outstanding motivational perks and benefits that Google offers it employees, as they consider their employees to be their greatest asset. This is also why the company fosters transparency to employees and states on its website, “everything that can be shared, is shared (EI).” This is how they show their employees that they trust their judgement with confidentiality, which gives employees a sense of ownership and belonging.
Google’s management strategy revolves around the belief that people will do amazing things at work and deliver the best output when they are given freedom on the job. This is driven, in part, by the research of the Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University College in London, Sir Michael Marmot. He conducted research over 40 years into Great Britain government employees’ health. His findings showed that employees with little control over their work lives had the highest mortality rates and the poorest well-being. Consequently, employees at Google are motivated because they are given freedom over their work lives with such perks as flexible work hours and having fun at work, whether that means getting a massage, working out at the gym or playing volleyball, etc. In addition, employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time (1 day each week) to doing anything they like (e.g. assisting special projects or even taking a nap at work), as long as the activities are ethical and lawful (EI).
Two Google perks that are sure to motivate its employees and keep them happy is free food and unconventional office designs. Employees at Google have their choice of free lunch and dinner and snack food that is kept stocked in kitchen areas and includes bottled waters, other beverages, healthy snacks, regular snacks and candy. Wherever Google employees work, it is good for them that they do not have far to go to be fed. For instance, the company’s headquarters has food sources within 150 feet of the employees, from vending areas to a restaurant to a micro-kitchen to a huge cafeteria. This type of convenience gives Google’s employees a chance to snack whenever they like and mingle with their co-workers from other teams. The company’s unconventional office designs are unusual and often wild. “The designs are done to serve several purposes including casual collisions for creative people and engineers to come together, idea generation and the triggering of maximum creativity while also ensuring employee happiness” (EI). For example, some of the meeting rooms resemble a pub in Dublin, a ski gondolas in Zurich, and a sidewalk café in Istanbul. At the Mountain View, California campus conversation areas resemble vintage subway cars and conference rooms are Broadway-themed with velvet drapes and play areas (EI). This all creates an atmosphere of non-conventional relaxation and fun, while allowing employees to get their work done.
Case Analyses Wrap-up
The three companies analyzed were chosen because they have implemented programs that successfully accommodate the needs of their employees, particularly in this new generation age. The findings section of this thesis follows that gives an overview of how the research questions was answered, and includes statistical results of the impact that employee motivation programs have on companies. The methodology section follows, which explains how the research was conducted.
This thesis examines the subject of how organizational productivity is related to employee motivation and answers the research question of: How effective are the measures companies are taking in order to keep the staff productive?
This question is answered by employee motivation statistics and trends, which indicate that workers who feel disengaged from their jobs are unproductive and do not care much about their jobs. Gallup studies show that 71% of workers in America are disengaged from their work and the unmotivated workforce in the U.S. costs $300 million, showing a definite link between motivation and productivity. A study by the Hay Group, a global management and consulting firm, found that companies with engaged employees were more 43% more productive than those with disengaged employees. Additionally, the study showed that most employees were motivated by more than just monetary incentives (Gaille). Those surveyed were motivated by such incentives as more opportunities (27%), career development and training (20%), flexible job conditions (15%), improved cooperation among coworkers (9%), more challenging work (8%), better relationships with management (7%), and more clarity about career goals (6%). The top motivational factors listed by employees in another survey by Westminster College shows that 32% prefer getting morale boosters, 27% prefer praise/recognition, and 18% prefer monetary awards (Gaille).
As shown in this thesis, measure companies take to motivate their employees to maintain a productive staff are effective. Today’s organizations often use reward management to attract and retain employees by keeping them motivated (Njanja, Maina and Kibet). As shown herein, happy employees are more loyal to an organization.
The findings of this research show that effectively motivating employees is a trade-off for higher levels of productivity. According to Njanja, Maina and Kibet, “when employees surpass their target or exceed their standard they should be rewarded immediately as a way of motivating them. By doing this, employees directly connect the reward with behaviour and higher performance they have attained. Effective reward systems should always focus on the positive reinforcement” (41). The three companies examined in this thesis have embraced this concept, and following are highlights of each company’s employee motivation strategies.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, knows how to keep his employees motivated. Hsieh focuses on making sure that his employees are happy. He bases his programs on three main criteria: Nurturing his employees, instilling trust, and offering incentive programs. The organizational culture at Zappos speaks for itself as well.
Aflac’s management is keen on making sure its employees have a supportive environment in which to work by initiating an organizational culture with an open-door philosophy, great benefits, competitive salaries, award-winning training and development, advancement opportunities, and other perks. Additionally, the company is committed to creating and sustaining a diverse workforce that performs at their best, while maintaining a healthy work/life balance and being in a workplace where they can have some fun while keeping with the company’s core values.
When it comes to motivating employees, it can be said without question that Google stands out from the rest, which shows in Google’s five Best Company to Work For awards. This is why Google has such a large and committed global workforce of over 50,000 employees that serve millions of people around the world. This is directly related to how the company pampers its employees through effective motivation strategies.
The research approach used for this thesis is qualitative content analysis, studying three observed companies and how they motivate their employees. Within this work, the following research question was proposed: How effective are the measures companies are taking in order to keep the staff productive? The methods used in this study aimed at answering the research question by given definitions, examples, and rationale.
First, this research is categorized as content analysis because it examines a series of texts through a body of communicated information (literature review) and it examines themes and meanings (Merriam-Webster, 2014) within the literature review by considering views by various authors. In addition, Shoemaker and Reese (1996) state the purpose of content analysis is to impose order on a body of material to grasp meanings from it, which is the process used in this dissertation. Satu et al. (2014) state that qualitative content analysis is an effective method for analyzing and interpreting data, as it is objective and systematic when describing and qualifying information. In addition, Satu et al. state that qualitative content analysis can be used both inductively and deductively. This thesis uses qualitative analysis in an inductive way, which leads into the second phase of describing the research approach of this thesis.
Second, this thesis uses an inductive approach, which develops the interpretation of concepts within the framework of the qualitative approach, as used in this research when analyzing the employee motivation practices of three popular companies—Zappos, Aflac, and Google. The inductive approach involves preparation (collecting suitable data from content to analyze and define it), organization (creating categories), and reporting results (making sense of research findings in a meaningful) (Satu, et al., 2014). This Thesis uses a review of relevant literature to establish the credibility of how the data addresses the research objectives, according to the inductive approach concept.
Third, a qualitative research approach is used in this thesis as a method of compiling and converting observed and reported information into written form (Denscombe, 1998). Bansal (2013) states that “qualitative research is based on textual data, drawn from researchers’ observations…analyses of archival manuscripts, and other similar sources. This textual data are open to multiple interpretations, so multiple connections can be made” (p. 127). This was achieved through analyzing literature sources.
The reason why people work and do their best at it, or not, is determined by how motivated they are to do the work. The goal of any company’s management team should not be only to dictate to and control employees, which may cause them to shun their work, but rather to create situations and conditions within the work environment that causes people to want to give their maximum effort in their jobs. It is in the best interests of any company to give their employees a chance for self-direction and self-control while pursing common objectives that align with the company objectives. As seen, in this research, this approach is preferable to strictly imposing a control system that is designed to force employees to reach objectives they did not share with the company. Additionally, making sure to reward employees for achieving goals is more effective for reinforcing shared commitment within the organization, which is better than punishing the employees for failures. Allowing employees to have responsibility and accountability is also an important factor of motivation, because it allows them to rise to challenges as well as unleash their imagination, creativity and uniqueness.
Furthermore, having responsible employees is crucial to operational values and implementing strategies based on those values to help the company succeed. Organizational values, as shown in this thesis, are no doubt the core of the organization’s culture. Organizational values consist of various key values that concern organization-related employee behaviors and the organization’s state-of-affairs that are often shared by members within the organization. In addition, acceptable standards are defined by organizational values, and this in turn governs individual behaviors within the organization. This all relates to the levels of self-esteem among members of the organization, which translates into “”the degree to which organizational members believe they can satisfy their needs by participating in roles within the context of an organization” (Bonder, Bouchard and Bellemare 4).
Motivation and productivity in today’s business environment often centers on factors such as work/life balance and wellness. Today’s employees are more health conscious and motivational perks such as on-site fitness centers or fitness center discounts, health management programs, health assessments, and other health and wellness programs are what motivates today’s employees. These type of incentives have positives impacts on the workplace culture, which translates into positive productivity outcomes through employee motivation and the results of it. This is a trend that has increased and continues to do so, as companies are reevaluating their work practices and are providing employees with the resources to support their wellbeing, which in turn, boosts their performance (Martin).
In conclusion, this research has shown that companies are better off when focusing on increasing productivity and efficiency in their management approaches, which includes implementing effective employee motivation strategies. This true for both private sector companies as well as public companies, even though they face different challenges. Motivating employees in the age of continual political, technological, economic, and environmental changes is vital to the success of any organization. Furthermore, as it relates to globalization, companies that continue to manage their employees through traditional human resource practices find additional challenges. This is because new human resource approaches to management have proven more efficient and effective in creating a sustainable workforce and work environment for organizations.
The current topic of research has examined productivity in the workplace and has shown its effectiveness for organizations to reach goals and achieve company objectives. As well, the topic of research has been shown herein to correlate with the degree to which employees are motivated to value the company’s goals and objectives enough to align themselves with them. This is significant because, as stated, employees have options and organizations that want to keep their good talent must learn to take good care of them, and motivating their strategically aligned behavior with the organization (van Riel, Berens and Dijkstra).
Implications for the future of employee motivation include continuing to educate and train employees and develop new profiles for job descriptions. This is something that can be further endorsed by senior managers within organizations. Companies should be careful to focus competency efforts at various levels of job performance to help employees reach for advancement and build upon established job descriptions. This will assist management in assessing the progress of their employee motivation programs (Bonder, Bouchard and Bellemare). Additionally, companies can learn from past mistakes and implement policies and strategies to ensure smooth operations and consistent application of employee motivation programs throughout the life of the company, which will in turn ensure the company’s long-term sustainability in its industry.
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