Iused to work as a HR intern at an electronics contract manufacturer companycalled Zn. It was established a few decades ago in China and has manysubsidiaries worldwide. It is financially successful; however, it hassome organizational behavior problems. As we know, motivation is a force that drives people to behavein a certain way. Three components about motivation are intensity, directionand persistence. According to Essentialsof Organizational Behavior,Intensity indicates a person’s effort, but great effort does not lead tosuccess without the right direction. Motivated people insist on pursuing theirgoals and exert their efforts in the direction that benefits the organization(Robbins, & Judge, 2017). However, many employees in at Zn had lowmotivation.
Like employees at many famous companies, employees at Zn sufferedfrom extremely long working hours and were exhausted mentally and physically. Iheard some employees work seven days a week. When there was high demand inproduction, employees were required to work more than 60 hours a week, which iscompletely higher than the working hours in Western countries. In some Europeancountries like German, employees work just 26.37 hours on average (Snyder , 2015). Although Chinese government mandates the monthly overtime workinghours to be 36 hours, most companies exceed the legal limit (Yang, 2017).
Working extremely long hours not only reduces employees’ motivation but is alsodetrimental to employees’ physical and psychology well-being, and might causelots of severe symptoms.At Zn, we worked from earlymorning till night so skipping lunch was very normal and even managers did noteat lunch until afternoon. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, peoplehave the nature of fulfilling their biological and instinctive needs. Maslow claimedthat workers will only be motivated when their physiological and safety needsare achieved (Robbins & Judge, 2017). However, in Zn, poor workingconditions did not fulfill employees’ lower level of needs, so it turned out tobe high turnover, which undermines efficiency, and productivity. Employeesunder such conditions became less motivated and less productive. Thus, if notfulfilling the physiological need, employees tend to have low motivationtowards their jobs.
Besides, work-life conflict has become a hot topic inmost organizations. Employees no matter they have children or not are concernedabout their work and life balance. For employees who have children, they needto spend time taking care of their families. Single workers also need time tofulfill their social needs and have higher demand to travel. Work-life conflictcan also occur when a person is spending time with his or her family but themind is still on work. At Zn, employeesalso faced work and family balance problems, which brought a huge issue to theorganization. Most of employees came to work because they could not find jobswith decent salaries in their hometown.
Some of them left their parents,husbands or wives, and children at home. Such inflexible working schedule leftworkers no time to stay with their families. The research designed by Kossekand Ozeki claims that high levels of work-family conflict associated with lessjob satisfaction and life satisfaction (Kossek, Baltes, & Matthews, 2011).I heard some employees cry in the workplace and go back to work immediately.Thus, many employees encountered role conflict and emotional dissonance.Although they were not satisfied with their work and were not happy, they hidetheir true emotions and were positive towards their managers and clients.
AtZn, employees chronically suffered from job stress. They put huge effort intotheir work to support their families. Some had to work 8 to 10 hours a day toget the basic wage which was much less than they thought.
It’s not hard to saythat those employees worked for long time but got low pay would have low jobsatisfaction, and high job stress. In order to increase employees’ motivation,employers can take the core job dimensions as reference and make changes basedon these dimensions. Core job dimensions include five aspects, which are taskidentity, skill variety, task significance, autonomy, and feedback (Robbins& Judge, 2017). For most employees working in the plant, work is structuredand boring.
Their daily job duties can be dealing with small pieces ofelectronic devices. As a result, the job lacks skill variety. I watched a TEDtalk before, the guest speaker raised an example about a 12-step project.
Hiring 12 employees and letting them take responsibility for each step has ahigh efficiency, but hiring one employee and letting him finish all the stepsby himself creates much more job satisfaction. The reason is that the wholeexperience leads to realization of task significance. Workers at Zn are justlike the 12 employees in the first presumption.
They have no chances to witnessthe whole process. According to the core job dimensions, employers shouldincrease the skill variety as well as illustrate the task significance of thejob to the employees (Robbins & Judge, 2017). Moreover, as mentioned,Maslow’s hierarchy clearly states that one must first satisfy physiological andsafety needs in order to pursue needs in higher level. If employers want tomotivate their employees, they can help employees by satisfying their basicsurvival needs.
For example, Zn could give employees lunch break or providelunch for them. With the guarantee of the basic needs, employees will pay moreattention in pursuing higher satisfaction, which will definitely motivate themto work hard. To help employees balance work and life, Zn shouldintroduce family friendly benefits including flextime, on-site childcare andpaid time leave. For example, NestlePurina and Amazon permit employees bringtheir dogs into the office (Robbins& Judge, 2017). What’s more, many employees left their children at homebecause of long working hours as well as overload. Thus, they could not givetheir children enough care and support. If their children are getting sick orhaving emergencies, workers will need to leave work early or even absent towork.
Hence, it will negatively affect organization’s productivity. To addressthis problem, Zn should make policies such as on-site childcare in helpingemployees balance their responsibilities between jobs and families, which couldbring Zn higher worker satisfaction, productivity, and more profits in the longterm. I have discussed about how tough it is for employees to work in Zn,whether in the workplace or life stress.
Zn could alsoincrease the skill variety to motivate employees. Skill variety refers to therange of abilities required during working, which can be increased by addingmore job missions to one position thus create overlaps between each position.(Robbins, & Judge, T, 2017). For example, one employee who used to assembleonly one piece to a new phone now can be responsible for assembling more thanone piece. By doing so, employees can also realize what they really contributeduring working, which provides opportunity for them to recognize the tasksignificance. The second way to motivate employees is to ensure their basicneeds have been satisfied.
Zn can provide employees with more favorable workingconditions like redecorate the workplace. Working long hours can causeergonomic problems and exhaustion, so Zn could redesign the machine or improvethe lighting. According to an article by MBA at University of North Carolina,”exposure to natural light improve mood and energy, greatly impacting focus andproductivity.” Making an effort to create a more favorable workplace will helpemployees feel more comfortable and be more productive. As stated,family-friendly policies are very important for Zn to implement, I came up withthree major solutions. First, Zn should reduce overtime hours for employeeswhile protecting workers pay to ensure they have time being with their familymembers (spouses, children, parents).
Only when workers are devoted familymembers could they contribute more to Zn so that it can have higher profits.Secondly, Zn can set up an onsite child-care center. It is a popular featurefor an organization to implement. What’s more, it has positive effect onworkers.
While employees are working on the supply chain, they can work withoutany burden because they know their children are taken well care in few stepsaway. Finally, I suggest Zn to allow paid leaves for employees. Most employeesseldom go home for children because they cannot afford doing so.
If they leaveone or two days, their family will face financial problems. Thus, if Zn canprovide paid leaves for its workers, such as parental leaves, workers then cancombine work and family responsibilities. In long term, workers can generatehigher productivity and job satisfaction. To reducejob stress, the company can lighten the standard and requirement of each jobposition. For example, they can reduce the units needed for a single day, thusreduce the burden of labor.
Fewer job load can provide employees withopportunities to rest themselves and reduce stress. The company could alsoprovide meditation or yoga for their employees so they could rest their mindsfor a while. From my personal experience, working long time without small restreduces productivity because our minds may run very slowly and prevent newideas coming up. Thus, it is important for employees take a rest from theirwork. To conclude, Zn mainly has threeorganizational behavior problems that are low motivation, job stress andwork-life conflict. Employees lack of motivation because of work overload;workers have trouble balancing responsibilities between work and family; mostof the employees are experiencing high level of job stress.
Therefore, byapplying core job dimensions, reducing work overtime limits as well asimplementing family-friendly policies, could Zn increase the overall employeesjob satisfaction, motivation and productivity. Toimplement change, I will use Kotter’s 8 steps for leading change (Robbins, & Judge, 2017). To createurgency, CEO should give a speech, highlighting the severity of the problem.Long working hours, work-family conflict and job stress could cause companyhuge health costs, high turnover and reduced productivity in the long run.
Thedirector of human resource should also speak up for employees and discuss thenew initiatives with executives. To form a powerful coalition, human resourcedepartment should liaise with directors of other departments. The directorshould communicate the new vision with people who have high personal power inthe organization and get their support.
To create a vision of change, membersof the change coalition should inspire their followers about the new vision.The company could change the mission statement to show that their financialperformance could not be achieved without improving employees’ well-being. Thenew initiatives will be written into employee handbook and company’s website.HR will send out the survey to know about employees’ ideas and suggestions. Tocommunicate the vision, the HR department should prepare a comprehensive planincluding executive summary, change and implementation plan and present tostakeholders. To empower action, HR will verbally praise people who support thechange and will reward them. HR will establish employee committee to illustratethe results from the survey and speak up about employees’ ideas.
To createquick wins, all departments involved will hold a celebration party together. Tobuild on change, HR will continue to change systems, structure and policiesthat don’t align with the vision. Department leaders will continuously statethe new vision and goal to followers. To make it stick, CEO and managers willarticulate theconnections between new initiatives and organizational success.
Employeecommittee will be given permanent (non-voting) role at board meetings to ensurecontinued sensitivity to employee welfare. Reference: Kossek,E. E., Baltes, B. B., & Matthews, R.
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