Employees news is that we can’t actually see

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Last updated: April 24, 2019

Employees as a human resource are one of the key success factors of thecompany and the main competitive advantage nowadays. But how to get the bestout of this valuable resource? There are so many various factors that haveinfluence on employee performance – political and economic situation in thecountry, legislation restrictions, technological progress, and environmentalfactors. Therefore, it is not an easy task for Human resources managerstogether with the company management to search for the best ways to enhance theperformance.This is the question that the employers and researchers have forcenturies and still did not find the gold receipt.In this work we will give a brief overview of the main motivationtheories and will narrow the analysis to how the following social factors –different generations, globalization, and culture; influence on employee performance.

Employee performance is often determined as acombination of abilities and motivation. So, one of the primary tasks facing amanager is motivating employees to perform to the best of their ability(Moorhead & Griffin, 1998). Actually, motivation has been described as “oneof the most pivotal concerns of modern organizational research” (Baron, 1991:1). And what is work motivation? Pinder (1998) describes it as the set ofinternal and external forces that initiate work-related behavior, and determineits form, direction, intensity, and duration. Work-related behavior is effectedby both environmental forces (e.

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g., organizational structure, reward systems,the nature of the work being performed) and forces intrinsic to the person(e.g., individual needs and motives). And what are the bad news is that wecan’t actually see motivation or measure it directly.

Therefore, we have torely on the existing theories to find our way to the most effective motivatorswith consideration of the specific conditions within which our companyoperates.Maslow theory of motives and needs (Maslow, 1943) definesfive steps of employees needsthat could be motivating for employeesonly if the lower are satisfied: physiological, safety, social, ego, andself-actualizing.Equity and justice theory introduced by Adams (1963) examines howemployees perform when they can compare themselves with their peer group.Researches learned that underpaid employees had decrease in their performance(reduced their impact) (Greenberg, 1982). Inequity comparisons result in astate of dissonance or tension that motivates an employee to engage in behaviordesigned to relieve tension (e.g. raise or lower work efforts to re-establishequity, leave the situation that is causing inequity).

(Lee, 2016)Expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964) suggests that motivation is amultiplicative function of three constructs: expectancy, instrumentality andvalence. It is based on the belief that employee effort will lead toperformance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964, Lee,2016) – negative or positive. The higher reward is the more motivational effect it has on employee.Motivation-hygiene theory (Herzberg, 1966)categorizes motivation into twofactors: motivators – as intrinsic factor and hygienes – as extrinsic factor (Herzberg,Mausner & Snyderman, 1959).

Intrinsic factors such as achievements andrecognition provide the employee job satisfaction while extrinsic factors suchas compensation and job security give job dissatisfaction. In other words, ifmanagers want to motivate employees and have them interested in their jobs they should not use the money(for sure, in case when the basic payment is at appropriate level). Promotingthe culture of payments and focusing employees on job security brings thecompanies to escalating expectations and therefore constant increase of HRcosts. Most important, managers will increase employee intrinsic motivation andlong-term job satisfaction by providing psychological growth opportunities(Sachau, 2007).Cognitive evaluation theory (Deci, 1971) concludes that money is not amotivator, on the contrary – money can demotivate.

It defines two motivationalsubsystems – intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsically motivated individualsattribute the cause of their behavior to internal needs and perform behaviorsfor intrinsic reward and satisfaction (Ambrose & Kulik, 1999).Goal setting theory (Locker, 1996) says that setting the specificdifficult goals to employees lead to their better performance. Goal setting isespecially effective when feedback is provided that permits the individual totrack the progress relative to the goal (Ambrose & Kulik, 1999).There are many traditional theories that emphasis on specific elementsthat empower workforce motivation. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs refers to the paymentas one of the levers of motivation. Adam’s equity theory specifies the fairnessand justice among employees, whereas Hackman and Oldham’s job characteristictheory stresses the essentiality of work design for high performance.  And Skinner’s reinforcement theory refers toreinforcement of positive employee behavior.

There are more recent researchesas for example the comprehensive motivation theory by Lawrence and Nohria(2002) et al. that incorporate many researches fields.HR is constantly working to combine and incorporate these numeroustheories in each day practice by creating multiple motivation schemes foremployees. With each year, it becomes more and more challenging as the workenvironment has high level of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity(VUCA environment)  and is impacted by theother PESTLE factors. Globalization of business activities brings different cultures togetherinto one company. The managers have to find the way to motivate theirsubordinates even when they work all over the world. The rapid development oftechnology of course helps but this is not enough. This has to be taken intoconsideration when we educate our leaders and of course while introducingincentives for employees.

Soon we will have four generations working at thesame time as a workforce due to increased pension age and workforce scarcity.Therefore, the motivation schemes have to be adjusted to the different values andperceptions of different generations.Therefore, it is a great challenge for the organization leaders to supportthe multicultural environment that manages multi-generational differences. Going back to Mannheim’s sociology of generations people are groupedinto cohorts based on the experiencing the same significant social and historicalevents within a given period of time. So, based on the events that took placeduring the period of ageing, generations develop their values and attitudes.Many researchers advocate the close attention to the multi-generationalworkforce including their stereotypical behaviors (Salopek, 2000a; Smola &Sutton, 2002; Tulgan 2004).Going deeper into characteristics of generations that are the currentworkforce brings us to the necessity to pay attention to different personalvalues, approaches to psychological contract, desirable communication styles,different perceptions of how they see the world. All these points can bring theconflict in the organization if not treated the right way.

These differenceshave to be understood to get the best out of available workforce and to bringour organizations success.We need to understand what the motives of each cohort are, so theircompetences and abilities can be used for strong commitment and work engagementwithin the changing organizational strategies and goals. Indeed Salopek (2000)argues that organizations that create environments which are value-based andwhich support divergent views and values of each of the cohorts create apositive outcome for both the organization and its employees.This paper outlines and evaluates the main characteristics and mainmotives of behaviors of each generation.Veterans (thegeneration that was born before Baby boomers prior to 1946) represent very small percentage of current workforce. They are influenced by the World War II and period of the Great Depression.They are patriotic, loyal, conservative, value stability and commitment.Seeking for the long-term job security, they are loyal to the organizations andtheir leaders.

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) were influencedby after war recovery and cold war. According to Gursoy, et al. (2013) althoughthey work hard and believe their work defines them, they tend to work for theirown recognition or development rather than to improve the company.

They couldbe described as optimistic workaholics, who value the health and well-being,value oriented. Boomers have technological disadvantage compared to younger generationsthat might create tension and together with high ambition may lead to burnout.Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979)(Al-Asfour&Lettau, 2014) makes the second biggest generation in theworkforce 33% (Brown, 2012; Lyons&Kuron, 2012).

Lewis & Wescott (2017)describe them as the first generation to enter the workforce after corporatedownsizing and grew up as latchkey kids with both parents working or divorced.Xers grew up at the beginning of the so-cold “Information age” and experiencingsocial, economic and political upheavals (Gursoy et al., 2008; Smola &Sutton, 2002). They are skeptical, independent, entrepreneurial.

So, they seekconstant feedback, autonomy, though expect the organizations to provide themthe opportunities for the skill development. Employees generation X lackemployer loyalty and will use the opportunity to challenge the hierarchicaldecision-making  structure. If they arenot satisfied with the job they easily change it. They are also wellappreciated for their thinking globally.

Generation Y – Millennials – are the children of Baby Boomers(born between 1980 and 2000) (Al-Asfour&Lettau, 2014). According to Smolaand Sutton (2002) they are the first generation to be born into atechnologically based world. They were bombarded with various informationthrough all types of media, have experienced the job loss in their families, livedthrough 11th of September. Whereas they grew up with a focus onfamily and had relatively scheduled and structured lives, at this point, Dawn(2004) suggests that Millennials are looking for challenges and learningopportunities in their lives.

In addition, industry experts have suggested thatGeneration Y employees value work-life balance and place significant importancein finding meaning at work, as well as in their personal lives (Moritz, 2014;Williams, 2011; Trunk, 2007). According to Bersin by Deloitte research onMillennials, two-thirds of them state their organization’s “purpose” is thereason they choose an employer. The Survey conducted by Lewis and Wescott (2017)shows that the most important job satisfaction factor for Y-er is “havingthings well explained”.Summarizing the abovementioned, we see that the workforce is changingdrastically.

Long-term relationships seem to be “passe”, as employees in Tulgan’s (2004) study tendedto favour short-term rewards, wanted immediate pay increases rather thanwaiting; and sought incentives which contributed toward better morale, higherproductivity levels and retention of employees. The average duration ofemployment has decreased in the recent years as well. To ensure a long-termorganizational success managers have to be real leaders and spend more time to analyzethe various motives for performance for different categories of employees andfind the right approach to varied needs of different generations.Using the information on generations and diverse theories of motivationcompanies do surveys and get constant feedback to find out the particularitiesof their employees’ motivation and needs.

Based on these surveys strategies areset to carry the business forward. While creating the motivators for desirable performance in ourorganizations we have to take into account not only the generation differencesbut due to the globalization the culture differences as well.As from the nineties with increased globalization of business appearedmore and more researches on cross-cultural particularities of motivationdrivers. Some countries are more individualistic in goal achievements as theUSA for example; China employees will be more motivated by team goals.

Yamauchiand Li (1993) found out the Chinese students reported stronger motives andattitudes toward achievement than the Japanese, whereas Japanese studentsreported stronger work ethic. Frese, Kring, Soose and Zempel (1996) revealedlower personal initiative in East Germany than in West Germany. Niles (1994)reported that Sri Lankans have scored less the work ethics as a need formastery than Australians. Pennings (1993) noted that Dutch and Frenchexecutives were more skeptical about long-term incentives in comparison totheir US colleagues, so, they (the first ones) have reported less correlationbetween the company results and their performance. The study of Dubinsky,Kotabe, Lim, and Michaels (1994) examined the effect of culture on expectancytheory perceptions. As the result, the U.S.

salespersons were more dependent onthe extrinsic motivation instruments as pay increases, job security,development than Korean and Japanese samples. So, I suppose that Deci’s Cognitive evaluation theory is moreuseful in Asiatic cultures than in U.S.All these differences in beliefs, values, pay practices reflect thecultural differences in finding the way in uncertainly avoidance andindividualism (Penning, 1993).To summarize, most of the motivational theories concentrate onparticular motivator and the theories changes together with the change ofgenerations and their basic values.

Therefore, it is very important to monitor ourpersonnel motivation, to track regularly the changes, to adapt our currentpractices to the quickly changing VUCA influenced business surrounding. And themost important is to constantly educate our employees and especially ourleaders on how to manage the cultural and generation diversity and thus createthe culture of fun, collaboration and creativity. 

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