Motivation Strategies

To some extent, a high level of employee motivation is derived from effective management practices. To develop motivated employees, a manager must treat people as individuals, empower workers, provide an effective reward system, redesign jobs, and create a flexible workplace.

Empowering employees

Empowerment occurs when individuals in an organization are given autonomy, authority, trust, and encouragement to accomplish a task. Empowerment is designed to unshackle the worker and to make a job the worker's responsibility.

In an attempt to empower and to change some of the old bureaucratic ideas, managers are promoting corporate intrapreneurships. Intrapreneurship encourages employees to pursue new ideas and gives them the authority to promote those ideas. Obviously, intrapreneurship is not for the timid, because old structures and processes are turned upside down.

Providing an effective reward system

Managers often use rewards to reinforce employee behavior that they want to continue. A reward is a work outcome of positive value to the individual. Organizations are rich in rewards for people whose performance accomplishments help meet organizational objectives. People receive rewards in one of the following two ways:

  • Extrinsic rewards are externally administered. They are valued outcomes given to someone by another person, typically a supervisor or higher level manager. Common workplace examples are pay bonuses, promotions, time off, special assignments, office fixtures, awards, verbal praise, and so on. In all cases, the motivational stimulus of extrinsic rewards originates outside the individual.

  • Intrinsic rewards are self‐administered. Think of the “natural high” a person may experience after completing a job. That person feels good because she has a feeling of competency, personal development, and self‐control over her work. In contrast to extrinsic rewards, the motivational stimulus of intrinsic rewards is internal and doesn't depend on the actions of other people.

To motivate behavior, the organization needs to provide an effective reward system. An effective reward system has four elements:

  • Rewards need to satisfy the basic needs of all employees.
  • Rewards need to be included in the system and be comparable to ones offered by a competitive organization in the same area.
  • Rewards need to be available to people in the same positions and be distributed fairly and equitably.
  • The overall reward system needs to be multifaceted. Because all people are different, managers must provide a range of rewards—pay, time off, recognition, or promotion. In addition, managers should provide several different ways to earn these rewards.

This last point is worth noting. With the widely developing trend toward empowerment in American industry, many employees and employers are beginning to view traditional pay systems as inadequate. In a traditional system, people are paid according to the positions they hold, not the contributions they make. As organizations adopt approaches built upon teams, customer satisfaction, and empowerment, workers need to be paid differently. Many companies have already responded by designing numerous pay plans, designed by employee design teams, which base rewards on skill levels.

Rewards demonstrate to employees that their behavior is appropriate and should be repeated. If employees don't feel that their work is valued, their motivation will decline.

Redesigning jobs

Many people go to work every day and go through the same, unenthusiastic actions to perform their jobs. These individuals often refer to this condition as burnout. But smart managers can do something to improve this condition before an employee becomes bored and loses motivation. The concept of job redesign, which requires a knowledge of and concern for the human qualities people bring with them to the organization, applies motivational theories to the structure of work for improving productivity and satisfaction

When redesigning jobs, managers look at both job scope and job depth. Redesign attempts may include the following:

  • Job enlargement. Often referred to as horizontal job loading, job enlargement increases the variety of tasks a job includes. Although it doesn't increase the quality or the challenge of those tasks, job enlargement may reduce some of the monotony, and as an employee's boredom decreases, his or her work quality generally increases.

  • Job rotation. This practice assigns people to different jobs or tasks to different people on a temporary basis. The idea is to add variety and to expose people to the dependence that one job has on other jobs. Job rotation can encourage higher levels of contributions and renew interest and enthusiasm. The organization benefits from a cross‐trained workforce.

  • Job enrichment. Also called vertical job loading, this application includes not only an increased variety of tasks, but also provides an employee with more responsibility and authority. If the skills required to do the job are skills that match the jobholder's abilities, job enrichment may improve morale and performance.

Creating flexibility

Today's employees value personal time. Because of family needs, a traditional nine‐to‐five workday may not work for many people. Therefore, flextime, which permits employees to set and control their own work hours, is one way that organizations are accommodating their employees' needs. Here are some other options organizations are trying as well:

  • A compressed workweek is a form of flextime that allows a full‐time job to be completed in less than the standard 40‐hour, five‐day workweek. Its most common form is the 4/40 schedule, which gives employees three days off each week. This schedule benefits the individual through more leisure time and lower commuting costs. The organization should benefit through lower absenteeism and improved performance. Of course, the danger in this type of scheduling is the possibility of increased fatigue.

  • Job sharing or twinning occurs when one full‐time job is split between two or more persons. Job sharing often involves each person working one‐half day, but it can also be done on weekly or monthly sharing arrangements. When jobs can be split and shared, organizations can benefit by employing talented people who would otherwise be unable to work full‐time. The qualified employee who is also a parent may not want to be in the office for a full day but may be willing to work a half‐day. Although adjustment problems sometimes occur, the arrangement can be good for all concerned.

  • Telecommuting, sometimes called flexiplace, is a work arrangement that allows at least a portion of scheduled work hours to be completed outside of the office, with work‐at‐home as one of the options. Telecommuting frees the jobholder from needing to work fixed hours, wearing special work attire, enduring the normal constraints of commuting, and having direct contact with supervisors. Home workers often demonstrate increased productivity, report fewer distractions, enjoy the freedom to be their own boss, and appreciate the benefit of having more time for themselves.
  • Of course, when there are positives, there are also negatives. Many home workers feel that they work too much and are isolated from their family and friends. In addition to the feelings of isolation, many employees feel that the lack of visibility at the office may result in the loss of promotions.