Free Strategic Human Resource Management Essay Sample
Human Resource Management (HRM) can be defined as the management of a given organization’s human resource or workforce (Becker and Huselid, 1998). It is involved in attracting, recruiting, selecting, training, assessing as well as rewarding employees accordingly. In addition, HRM oversees organizational culture and leadership while ensuring adherence to employment as well as labor laws. HR department liaises directly with the employees’ representatives or labor unions while allowing them to air their grievances and participating in collective bargaining agreement. HRM participates actively in providing motivation to employees as a way of increasing their productivity (Gelfand, 2000). Their productivity is measured in terms of organizational success and ability to meet set goals while closely adhering to a formulated mission.
Motivation of staff involves functions such as staff welfare, promotion, incentives, on-the-job training, off-the-job training, and team building among others (Becker and Gerhart, 1996). The department operates closely with other organizational departments. This liaison allows for effective realization of organization’s goals as well as the set vision. The entire management of any organization depends on the HR department for operational resources, which involves human labor. Similarly, the HR department depends on the top management for approval, cash allowance and formulation of organizational guidelines. Staff development is also a function of HR. This function entails the transformation of an employee from current state to a future desired state. Development of employees involves training, team-building, promotion as well as pay increase. Developed staff members are motivated, happy and capable of working with competence towards goal realization.
Human resource management carries the organizational image in the sense that customers generalize what they see from staff as the picture of the entire organization (Hofstede, 1993). The employees of any organization have direct contacts with clients and they might attract or scare them away. Training employees on how to handle customers will enhance their satisfaction. Satisfied customers have a tendency of performing a repeat business, which is a key to organizational success. Logic has it that the goal of any organization is success, which is perceived in terms of profitability and expansion to newer markets. During an organization’s budget allocation, enough resources should be allocated to the HR department to facilitate staff development as well as the recruiting process (Milliken and Martins, 1996). Judging from the above presentation, it comes out that HRM is all about employees and how to manage them. Developed, motivated and well-managed employees will with no doubt deliver their expected services competently as well as efficiently.
HRM is a young one of Human Relations Management that originated in the 20th century (Barney, 1995). This was way back when researchers were determined to document techniques of developing business value through strategic workforce management. During those days, organizations depended on transactional work, e.g. benefits and payroll (Blunt and Jones, 1986). Fortunately, factors such as globalization, technological advancement, company consolidation and further research have enabled HR to take strategic initiatives. These strategic initiatives include mergers and acquisition, succession planning, talent management, labor and industrial relations as well as diversity and inclusion. S mall and start-up companies require few trained practitioners or even non-HR personnel to perform the human resource functions. On the contrary, large companies require experienced personnel to specialize in different section of the human resource department.
Human Resource Management was a result of Frederick Taylor’s work in his lean manufacturing industry (Banker, Field, Schroeder and Sindha, 1996). He explored the meaning of the term scientific management in relation to the economic efficiency of the manufacturing jobs. His main focus was labor and its relationship with output. Labor is a principle input in the manufacturing process and a sparking inquiry is always required to influence workforce productivity. Taylor was determined to understand the concept of worker productivity and how industrial efficiency could be improved (Pratt and Rafaeli, 1997). He came up with four principles of scientific management that includes:
- Replacement of rule-of-thumb method with scientific methods that are based on scientific study of functions.
- Selecting, training and developing each employee scientifically as opposed to leaving them train themselves.
- Provision of guidelines and supervision to every worker during performance of tasks.
- Division of labor among managers and workers to allow them apply the principles of scientific management.
These principles were applied by industries of his time and they seemed to work. They led to increased workforce efficiency, which in turn led to increased productivity.
Taylor’s movement was made formal by the studies carried out by Elton Mayo (Hofstede, 1993). Mayo did a research that he named Hawthorne studies, which serendipitously documented ways how stimuli were unrelated to working conditions and financial compensations. Instead, attention and agreement produced happy and productive workers. Mayo’s focus was on the effect of a group on individuals’ behavior and performance. He argued that employees’ productivity was dependent on social factors and job content. People tend to have an urge of belonging to a group; therefore, keeping them in isolation would lower their productivity. This need of belonging to a particular group is more important than financial incentives or even good working conditions (Arthur, 1992). Furthermore, informal groups formed by workers have strong influence on workers behavior in a group.
Leaders and managers should be able to recognize these needs in order to ensure full employees collaboration with the officials as opposed to working against them (Milliken and Martins, 1996). Mayo went far to give instructions to interviewers for successful recruitment and selection. Therefore, he can well be viewed as the father of human relations management. However, he came out as transforming humans to machines instead of enlarging human capacity. He also substituted therapy for democracy in his participation concept.
Contemporaneous works done by prominent scientist such as Kurt Lewis, Abraham Maslow, Max Weber, David McClelland and Frederick Herzberg worked as basis for studies in organizational theory and organizational behavior, which gave room for an applied discipline (Elenkov, 1998). After the discipline was adopted, enough theoretical evidence was available to make an organizational case for strategic human management. Drastic changes in public as well as business landscape had transformed the employee-employee relationships leading to formalization of the discipline as labor and industrial relations (Arthur, 1994). In the year 1913, a professional HR association called Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development came into existence in England. Its initial name was Welfare Workers’ association before it changed to Institute of Industrial welfare Workers a decade later. Another decade later, it changed to Labor Management Institute before changing to its current name. Similarly, in the United States the first higher education institution was established. It was known as the school of labor and industrial relations, which was committed in offering workforce studies (Gelfand, 2000). By the mid 20th century, membership of the unions declined considerably while workforce management increased its influence on organizations. In the year 1948, the Society of HRM was founded and became the largest in professional HR association. The improvement of infrastructure in terms of communication and transport by the eve of 21st century increased worker mobility as well as collaboration. Organizations started perceiving employees as assets as opposed to machines and this led to the change of the name to human resource management.
Strategic Human Resource Management gained focus in late 1980s when Armstrong wrote more about it in terms of people management as opposed to ancient industrial relations methods. It focuses on the long-term goals of an organization. Instead of laying much emphasis on internal affairs of an organization, SHRM engages in addressing as well as solving problems involving people management both in the long run and globally (Schuler, Dowling and De Cieri, 1993). Therefore, the specific goal of SHRM is to increase worker productivity through managing obstacles of human resource from outside. The concept of Strategic HRM originated after Fombrun wrote about the three core elements that are important for an organization to operate effectively. The three core elements include mission and strategy, organization culture and human resource management (Begin, 1992). The definition emerging from these elements was that a strategy is a continuous process through, which objectives and missions of a firm are set. A strategy was also defined as a process in which firms utilize their resources to realize their goals and objectives.
Taylor, Mayo, Fayol, Herzberg and the rest introduced the concept of human relations as well as employee-productivity relationship. Since then, theories and models have been developed by other prominent researchers as an extension of their findings. Each of the researchers was aimed at improving industrial productivity through human resource management (Caves and Ghemawat, 1992). One of the models of HRM is named the matching model of HRM. The first explicit statement regarding the HRM concept came from Michigan school (Fombrun et al, 1984). They had it that organization structure together with the HR systems should be managed in such as way that they are congruent with the strategy of an organization. This is where the name matching concept originated from. They also argued that there is a cycle of human resource that consists of four generic functions or processes performed in all organizations. These processes/functions include:
- Selection-The process of matching human resources with the available job;
- Appraisal-managing performance;
- Rewards- This is the most under-utilized managerial tool of pressuring organizational performance. Short and long-term achievement should be rewarded with knowledge in mind that today’s success is a determinant of Tomorrow’s success;
- Development- Developing responsible, productive and quality employees.
The second model is named the Harvard framework. It was developed by the Harvard School on the basis that problems of historical personnel management could be solved (Delaney& Huselid, 1996). The founders believed that increased pressures are demanding broader as well as comprehensive strategic perspective as far as organization’s human resource is concerned. These pressures have increased the urge for a long-term perspective of in people management and their consideration as potential assets as opposed to just a variable cost. They had it that HRM involves collective management decisions and actions, which affect the perception of the relationship between employees and the organization. In their discussion, Harvard argued that HRM has two distinct features, i.e. line managers accepting their responsibility for monitoring and ensuring personnel policy alignment; and personnel with a mission of setting policies that give guidelines to their entrusted activities. The advantages of Harvard framework model are that it incorporates recognition of stakeholder’s interests (Cutcher-Gershenfeld, 1991). It also recognizes the relevance of trade-offs both implicitly and explicitly between employees and owners as well as other interest groups. The model expands the context of HRM to accommodate employee influence and acknowledgement of a wider range of contextual influences on choice of strategy. Moreover, the model emphasizes on strategic choice thus it is not influenced by situation or even environmental determinism.
Despite the relevance of these models, concerns are raised about HRM that are contradictory. One of it is that management may express workers concern in a different way. According to (Delery and Doty, 1996) the real dilemma is on how to HRM has secured influence and institutional recognition despite the overwhelming critical refutation. Other writers have it that HRM doesn’t function. Godard and Delaney (2000) for instance, claim that both the management and workers are slaves of their history; therefore they find it hard to let go of their traditional orientations. However, these contentions have contradictions. Dierickx and Cool (1989) argues that it is hard to treat HRM as a form of threat that requires a critical analysis and at the same time perceive it as inefficient or ineffective.
HRM and personnel management are believed by some theorists as having the same meaning while others perceive them as being distinct. However, with the increased of the term HRM and HR Personnel management has been dropped. It is important to identify their differences if any, and understand the development of personnel management to the present HRM. Some commentators (Guest, 1997; Doty, Glick, and Huber, 1993) have come up with the revolutionary nature of HRM. Others on the contrary, have denied the existence of any significant difference in HRM and personnel management. Huselid (1995) suggested that personnel management has evolved by combining traditional approaches to produce a complex richer compound called HRM.
Ichniowski, Shaw, and Prennushi (1997) argue that it is valuable for strategic HRM literature to progress theoretically as well as empirically. From the empirical work done on this field previously, there has been an emphasis on methodological issues to carry out research on. Thus, it is relevant to go through the conceptual challenges before the actual empirical research. One of the issues is methodological in nature and it entails appropriate measurements for the systems of HRM. Traditionally, gathering of information from individuals was the main method of doing research in HRM. Moreover, the interpretation was done in relation to a person’s behavior, performance, and attitudes in a particular organization. The facts that need to be addressed are how individual differences affect the organizational effectiveness (Huselid and Becker 1996). To do this, there is need to apply a meso-level approach, that is, a simultaneous study of group, organization and individual operations. Furthermore, the mechanism of relating them should be derived considerably.
Another methodological issue concerns the notion of fit. Substantial amount of research has been presented that relates to individual HRM policies and practices e.g. pay (Huselid, Jackson and Schuler, 1997). However, these studies are deficient in that they lack a holistic perspective concerning the relationship between strategic outcomes and HRM systems. Conceptual work has it that test for fit and complementarities should primarily focus on both external and internal fit (Jacques, 1999).
There is great difference between the historic HRM and today’s HRM in terms of functionalism. There has been a drastic change and progressions in HR activities as well as operational techniques. The main stimuli of these changes have been technological advancements. Technology has changed the way things are done and in some cases the components of a particular task (Gray and Marshall, 1998). It has led to elimination of human resource and their replacement with machines, which require less manpower to operate them. Technology has brought about transformation from manual operations to technical ones, which calls for improvements in skills.
Following the adoption of technological systems in many organizations, employees are offered training both on-the-job and off-the-job. As much as training of staff is seen as necessary for development, it is also useful in providing new skills required to operate new systems. Historically, human resource performance was measured in terms of total output, which was easily computable. Scientists such as Taylor and Fayol determined their workers’ performance through the derived outputs (Hofstede, 1993). On the contrary, today’s HR performance cannot be measured in terms of output due to the increased number of service industries. As a result, performance is measured in terms of customer satisfaction, repeat business/customer loyalty, increased profitability as well as operational effectiveness.
Culture is a key factor in dealing with organizations’ well-being. It is a product of how people relate with each other. This entails the employees’ relationship with each other and with the organization’s management (Bollinger, 1994). Culture defines what the organization stands for and therefore, it gives guidelines and moral principles to all the stakeholders involved. An organization is identified by what it stands for in terms of behavior and social relations. Culture is a vital aspect in considering the organizational goals and performance since every member is aware of what needs to be done and in what way. However, cultural differences are evident in today’s multicultural global society of business (Lado and Wilson, 1994). Therefore, managers are faced with difficulties in their efforts to lead people of distinct culture who do not believe in the same things. From this understanding, it is fair for an organization to uphold a unique culture that will bond all the stakeholders while giving them a single direction. Organizations with a defined culture are always successful in their undertakings. Nevertheless, strong organizational culture brings about resistance to change in times when it is required (Gelfand, 2000). Stakeholders seem reluctant and unwilling to adopt a new way of doing things since they got used to the current state of their organizations.
Strategic human resource management has changed its image and will continue to change with time. This is due to the technological developments, changing lifestyle and advancing levels of education. Organizations need to be formulating strategies that will work towards goal realization and in line with set objectives. Almost everything has gone digital and today employees together with the managers communicate via the internet or call boxes (Elenkov, 1998). Departments are able to assess the progress and coordinate with each other through the use of intranets. Employees are also trained online while engaging with their customers on the same channel. That is how fast the world is changing and the earlier an organization adapts to the changing circumstances the better for its success. Formulation of an effective strategy, use of relevant resources, involvement of the appropriate human resources and proper management will ensure success in organizational operations.
Organizational behavior is the part of human resource that deals with how people act as individuals and groups within an organization structure, and how this behavior affects the organization’s performance. Human resource (HR) managers should understand how their employees act and the causes of the reactions (Milliken and Martins, 1996). This way, they are able to influence employees’ behavior such that they conform to the organization’s expectation hence meeting its needs. The ability of human resource managers to determine how people will behave at their work place determines their successful influence of that behavior (Miles, Snow, Meyer and Coleman, 1978). Successful management of people at the work place depends on understanding what makes them behave the way they do. There exist several factors that influence people’s behavior and reactions at workplace. These include the following:
Human resource have made mistakes in the past by designing organization designs while assuming that people are the same and would relatively behave in a similar way when faced by certain situations. The individual differences that make people behave in certain ways originate from their cultural background, race, and sex (Lepak, and Snell, 1999). Individual differences are wide and can comprehensively be discussed under the following headings:
Personal characteristics variations
People’s individual characteristics will vary depending on the differences of each of these variables (Pratt and Rafaeli, 1997).
- Self regulatory plans- The targets people set to achieve and the processes involved in achieving these goals will determine people’s behavior at their workplace.
- Values-These refers to aspects that people attribute importance to. Valuable practices to an individual can make that person to act energized and motivated, while those that are less durable can elicit less vigorous actions.
- Competences- The skills and abilities possessed by people in any working environment determines the way these people behave. People who are skillful will behave confidently and will tend to be more productive than the less skilled ones who may tend to be withdrawn and less confident.
- Self and other people’s behavior expectation-People tend to behave in certain ways because that is what is expected. If an employee has been perceived to be an achiever by others, the employee will work hard to satisfy that expectation.
Cultural and background influence
Differences that people portray result from several factors among them, culture and upbringing background (MacDuffy, 1995). The environment where a person has grown up and lives determines how he/she behaves. Moreover, the relationships formed during the growing up process, individual’s culture, and roles that individuals held have a big influence on how people behave. Development of people’s personalities that have a great influence on behavior depends on whether an individual’s environment provided a chance to develop the traits or there were limiting factors to the personality’s growth. The different roles played by different people as they grew up influences the level of responsibility, and in extension the way people behave at their workplaces.
Differences in sex, race or due to disability
Minority people may be marginalized when it comes to job employment and promotions fir those already employed. The disabled people may find out that they are considered incompetent to do certain tasks (Miller, 1992). As such, they may tend to underperform even when their potential is high. Women in the working environment have been found to have more stress than housewives.
Factors influencing behavior at work
Behavior of individuals at work is dependent on their personal characteristics and situations under which they are working (Pratt and Rafaeli, 1997). The way people react while working is a result of the interaction between their personal characteristics and situations at the workplace. The existence of many different personal characteristics and situations in the working environment renders behavior difficult to predict or analyze.
These are qualities that enable a person to accomplish a certain task. Variation in people’s performance is influenced to a greater extent by General Mental Abilities (Gelfand, 2000). A persona with more general mental ability is likely to accept tasks easily at work, may be viewed by others as able and thus strive to work hard to maintain their perception.
This refers to and individual’s ability to see relationships, solve problems and explain concepts (Milliken and Martins, 1996). A person with general intelligence is able to tackle a wide variety of mental tasks that involve thinking and reasoning. People with such abilities are able to accomplish tasks assigned to them with the quality expected .consequently; they are rewarded, which leads to perfection of their work, thereby becoming achievers.
This refers to the aspect of an individual’s psychological make-up that influences distinctive behavior patterns consistently. According to Gray and Marshall (1998), personality is organized in such a way that it can be measured and observed. His assertion is that personality consists of unique and common aspects. An individual’s personality is a blend of natural characteristics and composition and environmental interaction with other people. Classification of personality makes understanding easy (Schuler, Dowling and De Cieri, 1993). . It has been divided in two:
- Trait concept-this concept explores personalities of people by observing same response to different varied situations. Under this personality classification, there are five personalities that emerge: Neurotism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. This classification of personality is based on the assumption that people will consistently respond in a certain way to different situations. This assumption tries to lay down the basis for future predictions of behavior. Being able to predict behavior in the future helps people in making sense of others’ behavior that in the absence of the classification may appear useless and uncoordinated.
- Type theories-this theory a number of personality traits within which people are classified.
An attitude is a specific orientation of behaving and thinking towards a specific object. Development of attitude goes along with experience gained and can change when experience changes. Attitudes are influenced by individual’s culture (Milgrom and Roberts, 1995). A work setting, the style of leadership used, policies relating to personal life such as pay, may determine how employees will form a mental orientation of the organization and their work. Human resource managers should, therefore, strive to learn employees’ attitudes with the aim of influencing them to optimize organization’s expectations of the workers (Blunt and Jones, 1986).
This refers to people feelings towards a certain object. They make people react in different ways such as happily, sadly and joyfully. They, therefore, influence the ay people behave.
Types of behavior
The behavior type described here refers to those that depict individual differences. They include the following:
Perception refers to the different ways individuals, see, interpret and understand phenomena in the environment. People will behave in specific ways depending on the way they perceive their situation. While individuals interact with their environment, they attach some meaning to it (Ostroff and Bowen, 2000). This process creates a psychological experience. Since different people perceive things differently, they tend to be varied in their behavior since behavior results from their attempt to react to the situations they perceive to be in.
This theory tries to establish ways through which people attribute causes to situations. The theory attempts to explain people’s perceptions and reasons regarding happenings (Gray and Marshall, 1998). In a work environment, attribution theory is often applied by workers who try to explain why their colleagues acted in a certain way. They, therefore, try to attribute a cause to a certain observed behavior. Further, people at wok attribute failure or success to individuals, but differently (Hofstede, 1993). High achievers attribute their failure to their less effort application to gain the desired success and their success to their ability and effort. However, low achievers attribute their failure to inability to achieve.
This is a behavior that involves a person and self belief (Rumelt, Schendel and Teece, 1991). Individuals are evaluated on whether they believe they have the ability to perform certain tasks and achieve success. Those with a strong belief in their ability to execute functions in the future to meet set goals have been found to achieve high results than those who rank low in the test.
Orientation to work
Employees with this behavior persistently work hard in the tasks so that they can get rewarded in other sectors of life. This theory asserts that people may be very hard working, but not because they are happy and want to. There are those who take work as a means to achieve something else, totally unrelated to the work (Gelfand, 2000). Employees with higher orientation to work are hard working and obedient to the authority as a way of ensuring that they get their reward from their effort.
Roles refer to the positions held by individuals in work setting that facilitate execution of duty. The role defines the behavior and individual should inculcate so that the work assigned can be accomplished successfully (Blunt and Jones, 1986). The role theory asserts that those who hold roles work in an environment where other workers exist. They, therefore, interact with others in the organization. Both the role holder and colleagues are expected to perform certain tasks so that their success can be determined. When roles are assigned to individuals, they must be clear, and non-conflicting with others.
There are times when the role being played becomes ambiguous in the sense that those playing them are not sure what expectations others have for them. Poor performance and stress can be caused by elements of the role being incompatible (Peteraf, 1993). People’s expectations about the role player may not be what the role player feel should be the right thing to do. On the other hand, there may emerge a conflict of roles. The employee allocated a certain role may have another demanding role at home (Elenkov, 1998). As such, the way the employee behave and perform his/her duties may be affected by other roles that may not be compatible with the employee’s role at his workplace. Human resource practitioners are affected by factors such as:
When the human resource department is designing jobs, responding to grievances, dealing with disciplinary problems, designing reward systems and coming up with development and learning programs, there should be considerations that people are diverse in many ways (Bollinger, 1994). Factors that satisfies one person may not do so to another. It is therefore crucial for human resource specialists to consider different amplitudes, abilities and intelligence levels of individuals before fitting people in their jobs. Only the right people given the appropriate jobs, with the right training can execute and succeed in producing the desired results (Venkatraman, 1989). Since people are diverse in emotions, personalities and attitudes, managing these different people is a crucial element of an organization’s success. In managing diversity, the human resource managers should be able to predict general mental abilities of individual employees using selection aids. Individual differences should be accounted for in issues such as dealing with disabled employees, employing women and people from different ethnic backgrounds (Begin, 1992)..
Judgment on personality
Many are times when personalities have been judged and measured using stereotyped traits. This has always resulted in misunderstanding and underperformance off individuals who find their work unsatisfying due to their incompatibility with it and other related elements (Becker and Gerhart, 1996). The human resource specialist of any organization must remember that individuals are complex and change from time to time depending on situations and environments they are in. Understanding that people are complex and would fit in different jobs can be very rewarding to both the organization and employees (Tichy, Fombrun and Devanna, 1982). However, Human resource specialists and managers have to balance the need for individual considerations and the extent to which the organization can go in doing so, bearing in mind that the success of many organizations depend on teamwork for their success. Though not possible to consider all specifications of individuals, the human resource department should not ignore the pressures that amount from individual characteristics since they can easily be counter-productive.
Attributions and perceptions
People tend to attach motives to other people’s performance depending on how they see things. This is very subjective and can be very wrong especially when the judgment being made relates to work performance (MacDuffy, 1995). Human resource specialists should be cautious when determining the cause for certain behaviors since the cause might be complex than what they seem to be on the surface.
When the Human Resource (HR) specialists are planning training and reward systems, it is very crucial to inculcate the spirit of self belief in employees (Teece, Pisano and Shuen, 1997). Their ability to execute their tasks successfully is significantly influenced by their perception about their abilities to deliver the expected results. The belief instills confidence that drives their activities during task performance.
Successful HR specialists always evaluate the extent to which factors other those related to the job influences motivation to work (Laurent, 1986). Identification of such factors with precision can help in designing motivation packages for different workers.
The implication of this behavior factor on HR specialists is that there is need to clarify individual employees behavioral expectations related to their work. Moreover, job designing done with this consideration eliminates chances of incompatible elements that may result to low performance. Potential role conflict can be minimized to reduce stress related to it (Watson, 2003)
Motivation and organizational behavior
Motivation refers to the strength and direction of people’s behavior and related factors that make them behave the way they do (Teece, Pisano and Shuen, 1997). Individuals pursue their goals with varied effort depending on their motivation to achieve them. Motivation has three critical elements:
- Direction- this refers to the goal a person is trying to achieve
- Effort- This refers to the amount of hard work dedicated to achieving the set goals
- Persistence- This is the frequency of trying once an effort has not materialized
S Motivation can be self or for others. Self motivation is concerned with setting the required direction and then putting the effort required to reach the set goals (Barney, 1995). Motivation is a behavior that is guided by goals. People become motivated when they expect a reward or achievement from a certain course of action. Those people who are regarded as well motivated have the autonomy to decide the amount of effort to put.
Types of motivation
This motivation can also be referred to as inner motivation (Venkatraman, 1989). Personal factors that influence a person’s behavior result to intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation results from the work itself where the employee feels that the work is satisfying, challenging, offers autonomy to use skills and offers an opportunity to develop and advance. This type of motivation can be enhanced by the complexity of the job, the level of skills possessed by the employee and level of challenge the task is. Feedback is usually a key factor in intrinsic motivation as it allows employees to know where they performed well and where they need to improve (Youndt, Snell, Dean, and Lepak, 1996).
In extrinsic motivation, people are motivated by others though doing certain things (Doty, Glick and Huber, 1993). Incentives, rewards, pay increment, promotion, disciplinary action and withholding pay are some of the things that affect extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can be a very powerful tool of motivating people but cannot last long compared to intrinsic motivation.
Theories of motivation
This theory was developed by Charles Frederick Taylor, who advocated for the need to link performance with economic outcomes (Arthur, 1994). Basically, this theory suggests that the main motivating factor for people to work is money. People, under this theory’s assumptions will be motivated to work if there are penalties and rewards that are directly related to their performance. The reward system in this theory is contingent, meaning that you are only rewarded when your work is satisfactory and punished if the work is substandard. This theory has been used extensively over the years with significant success (Caves & Ghemawat, 1992). However, it does not apply all the time because there are tasks that require intrinsic motivation more than extrinsic.
This theory is based on past experience (Jacques, 1999). When people act, they do so to achieve and satisfy their needs. During this process, certain actions leads to success while other leads to failure. Those that lead to success are positive reinforcements as they will motivate people to repeat the behavior that led to success. On the other hand, those behaviors that led to failure are considered as negative feedback. People avoid such behaviors in the future and seek alternatives that might be more rewarding (Tichy, Fombrun and Devanna, 1982). The degree of influence experience has on subsequent behavior depends on several factors. One such factor is the ability of individuals to perceive the relationship between behavior and its associated outcome. The more an individual is able to connect the relationship, the stronger the reinforcement. The second factor is the ability to see the likeness between past situations and current ones (Miller, 1992). Since the ability of individuals to perceive the connections between situations vary from person to person, the level of motivation also varies depending on different individuals. This theory assumes that one can accurately predict an individual’s present likely choice by evaluating the consequences of past choices. This assumption is misleading because present expectations that are not connected to past experiences can influence a person to make certain choices.
Content (needs) theory
The theory is derived from an assumption that behavior is driven by needs that are not satisfied. According to this theory unsatisfied need creates instability. This instability is undesirable and it needs to be eliminated so that stability can be restored (Lado and Wilson, 1994). The goal that would successfully lead to the satisfaction of the desired need is determined. The course of action necessary to meet the desired goal is as well defined and implemented. Two important writers contributed to a great extent in the development of the needs theory. These include Abraham Maslow and Alderfer.
Maslow suggested that there are five levels of needs that are hierarchical in nature. They range from basic physiological needs, safety, esteem and social needs; self-fulfillment needs (Wernerfelt, 1984).
The fulfillment of these needs star from the basic ones moving up the hierarchy. When a lower need is satisfied, the need to satisfy the next higher need arises. This process continues until all are satisfied. However, Maslow pointed out that the need for self-fulfillment is never satisfied and man always strives to achieve its satisfaction.
Alderfer (ERG Theory)
Alderfer came up with a human needs theory that had three distinct classifications (MacDuffy, 1995).
- Existence needs- These needs present the basic needs required for existence and for basic work environment. They include needs to satisfy thirst and hunger, good working conditions and basic pay.
- Relatedness needs-This took in to account the fact that people are social animals and must relate with others in their environment. These needs included the need to be understood and appreciated.
- Growth needs- These are the needs people have relating to unleashing their full potential to achieve the beast results within their ability. They include career development and promotion at the workplace.
The two factor theory revolves around dissatisfies and satisfiers (Wright, McMahan and McWilliams, 1994). Satisfiers refer to those factors in a work situation that leads to personal development through promotions, responsibility, the work itself and recognition. These factors are part of intrinsic motivation and their effects are long-lasting. Dissatisfies are those that are concerned with the external working environment such as supervision, good working conditions and salaries. This theory suggests that the dissatisfies are acts as a basis for the fulfillment of the satisfiers. When the working conditions are conducive, people are able to work hard and are well motivated. As such, they are able to chase their goals of development such that when these goals are met, the employees become satisfied.
Engagement is a behavior portrayed by employees when they are very excited about their jobs, show positive attitude are willing to put extra effort to make their jobs exceptional. Employee engagement is very important to both the organization and the employees (Wright and McMahan, 1992). Engagement simply depicts the behavior of individual in their role performing their duties in ways that enhance achievement of organizational and personal goals. The level of engagement determines the level of discretionary behavior that an employee will portray. Discretion refers to the choices employees make in the work environment regarding innovation for their work and amount of effort to put to have an overall productive behavior.
The level of involvement employees’ show depends on several factors (Barney, 1995). These factors can motivate or de-motivate workers to get engaged with their jobs. These factors include the following:
The working environment
A working environment that promotes an appreciative attitude towards work motivates people to get engaged with their job. People are more productive where the job is exciting and fulfilling (Peteraf, 1993). The excitement created by people enjoying their work and thus anticipating success reduces stress. Presence of stress at work may reduce chances of employees getting engaged with their jobs.
An opportunity for growth includes learning as a vital element. Leaning programs provides employees with knowledge that empowers them in making discretionary decisions. The type of learning that ensures quality engagement of employees is voluntary and self motivated (Tichy, Fombrun and Devanna, 1982). When employees choose to advance the knowledge they have, they will get enriched more than when the learning is induced by the management. Therefore, the opportunity for growth will act as a motivation for those employees who yearn to develop through knowledge.
Opportunity to contribute
Employees feel valued when their contribution is taken seriously (Wernerfelt, 1984). When complaints are made, the management at all the levels should show their total commitment in resolving the underlying problems. To make the employees have faith in the management’s commitment to appreciation of their contributions, it should be made one of the core values of the organizations.
Organizational culture refers to the values, norms and beliefs that govern how people in a given organization relate. Thus, culture impacts greatly on people’s behavior thus must be of importance to HR specialists (Becker and Gerhart, 1996). They must understand all the concepts of culture so that they can be able to manage and change it when need be in their organizations. There are several ways through which organizational culture develops. One such way is through the influence of leaders who have led the organization. Leaders with vision leads by example are influential to those they lead (Watson, 2003). Those aspects of the organization that were given attention by these leaders are taken as important and are emulated as standards that should be followed. In the history of an organization, critical events may have taken place that taught people behaviors that were expected and those that were undesirable. Such lessons become part of an organization culture. In any given setting, people who are interacting need to define the boundaries of their association. To maintain a good relationship among organizational members, a culture that guides them on how to relate is thus required. A culture can be said to be appropriate if it propagates the performance of the organization and takes care of its needs (Ichniowski, Shaw and Prennushi, 1997). Those cultures that have developed over a long period of time have been embedded in the organization. As such, the culture has a lot of influence on the way the organization performs its duties. An organization’s culture can be supported if it is acceptable by all organization members; its elements are consistent and are unique. Being unique means standing out from other organizational cultures. This gives employees an identity and sense of pride.
There are circumstances that lead to culture change even if people have adhered to it for ages. When new technology emerges it enhances the productivity of and organization, culture change may be necessary if the existing culture hinders the introduction of the new technology (Blunt and Jones, 1992). There are usually genuine concerns for hindering introduction n of technology such as the fear of not being able to use the technology. To make the introduction of technology more acceptable, people should be taught how to use it before its introduction. Moreover, the organization may be stagnating due to the rigidity of the existing culture.
Changing culture is difficult as it represents the beliefs norms and values that people have held onto for years. Before the change is effected, those in the organization must be convinced that there are genuine reasons for changing the culture. Before a culture is changed, an analysis of the current culture of an organization is evaluated. Then the desirable culture is defined so that the discrepancies between the two cultures can be explored for change. The success of the implementation process depends on how well change is managed (Miller, 1992).
Organizational behavior is one area that HR specialists should focus on in details. This is because it relates to how people behave in their working environments. Since HRM deals with recruiting and developing employees, their behavior and factors that influence how they behave is important. It helps in understanding the rationale for behavior thus being able to develop work designs that match specific behaviors thereby enhancing performance. In the study of organizational behavior, the field of motivation is evaluated (Rumelt, Schendel, Teece, 1991). It helps HR specialists to develop reward programs that match different levels of motivation depending on specific motivating factors of individual employees.
Employee turnover is a critical problem that has faced many organizations in the world today (Youndt, Snell, Dean, and Lepak, 1996). It is the rate at which employees join and leave an organization. Employee turnover has no known advantages but many disadvantages. When organizations experience employee turnover, there are many losses incurred. Employing employees involves a large process that costs a company a lot of money. Advertisements must be done by the HR department through the relevant media to attract the right person for specific positions. The process of selecting those who have applied consumes resources for the company, both monetary and in terms of time (Tichy, Fombrun and Devanna, 1982). The applicants who are chosen are usually taken through rigorous training so that they can adapt to the organization’s culture and working system. This process again consumes many resources especially time. After the induction process, employees settle down and start forming social bonds with other employees in the organization.
While forming the social bonds the new employee get acquainted with the new organization’s working system and become efficient in executing duties. After all this processes, an employee who leaves an organization at such a time is very costly to the organization. Profits margins are reduced greatly when the organization tries to mitigate the effects of the employees’ turnover (Wernerfelt, 1984). An organization also undergoes other related costs when employee turnover is high. The organization incurs expenses when replacing employees who have left the organization. Moreover, other cost such as working with a new employee who may not be very competent cripples an organization performance. To cater for the gap that has been created, existing employees must work overtime to cover the work that was left undone by the employee who left the organization.
To mitigate the staff turnover problem, reasons that make it occur must be established. One of the problems that bring about to high staff turnover is the issue of poor working conditions. These conditions de-motivate the employees because the effort committed to duties is high, but produce limited outcomes due to these poor conditions. The poor conditions may involve lack of proper equipment (Venkatraman, 1989). In relation Herzberg’s theory, dissatisfies are conditions that limit a favorable environment for employees to achieve their intrinsically motivated goals, e.g. career development. Poor pay, supervision of work and the nature of an organization’s administration. When employees feel that they are not properly compensated for their work, they may tend to seek for alternatives that will pay them higher than their current jobs. Moreover, if the supervision in the organization is very strict, it may limit the level of autonomy in using skills possessed by employees.
In work environments where strict supervision limits free use of skills, employees feel wasted and pose a higher chance of looking for an organization that may offer them a chance to use their skills and innovation. The other factor in the Herzberg theory represented intrinsic motivation. These factors are called satisfiers (Milgrom and Roberts, 1995). These factors include promotion, being given responsibility and the content of the job being satisfying. Promotion in many organizations is surrounded by company politics. When a person is promoted from one level to the other, they feel appreciated. When this happen, they have a perception that they are important assets to the organization and the corporation needs them. Moreover, when employees are promoted, they enter a comfort zone they may not want to leave for an unknown organization. They are therefore likely to remain within the organization. When employees are given responsibility, they must be given authority and freedom to do their work.
According to role theory, the organization must define the role of each employee and behavioral expectations that accompanies the role (MacDuffy, 1995). When an employee has been given a responsibility, he is required to play a certain defined role. The employees who relate to the role player have expectations in terms of behavior from him/her. Because of the expectations and responsibility, the employee who has been given a role and responsibility cannot leave for another organization because they feel they must see the results of their responsibility and take credit for it.
According to Maslow’s theory of needs, when there is an unfulfilled need, objects are formulated on how to satisfy need. The process of satisfying the need is then created, which leads to the meeting of the set objectives (Lado and Wilson, 1994). In any given organization, employees work so that they can fulfill some needs. These needs are diverse depending on individual employees. If the needs of employees are not met by working for an organization, then their motivation in working for the organization goes down. Consequently, they may get reasons to seek alternative employment that will meet their needs. Maslow suggested that needs are arranged in a hierarchy manner.
Employees working for needs at the lowest level may become de-motivated faster if their needs are not met because those needs represent the means to survive (Guest, 1997). On the other hand, people working for needs that are high in the hierarchy are more patient when the expected results from their work are not forthcoming. Comparing the two types of employees in an organization, the one working for needs lower in the hierarchy are more likely to leave the organization than that working for needs higher in the hierarchy. Alderfer classified the needs in to three categories. These categories represent needs for existence, relatedness and growth. These needs must be fulfilled and act as motivators for people to work.
The level of employees’ engagement with the organization also determines how well an organization can retain its customers thus reducing their turnover. The degree of employee engagement with the organization depends on how the employees perceive the organization. A good employee perception can only exist if the organization is meeting the needs of the employee and the employee feel respected in the organization (Barney, 1995). Moreover, the engagement is dependent on several factors such as a chance to grow and give some contribution in decision making. Employees feel good when they contribute in decision making and when their grievances are listened and taken care of. As a means of curbing the high rate of turnover, organizations should exercise some flexibility in their organization structure and decision making process. They should understand that allowing workers to participate in decision making makes them feel that they own the organization. Moreover, it will be very easy to retain them in the organization since it’s rare to find organizations that allow employees to take part in decision making. From the analysis of these theories; there is a clear indicator that employee benefits are a key to reducing the high rate of turnover in many organizations.
The culture of a given organization is also very crucial in ensuring that employees remain within it. The culture of an organization simply represents the values, norm and beliefs that are shared my members of an organization. It is in the culture that the relationship between the employee and the organization are well defined (Adler, 1991). A good culture should be made by both the organization’s management and employees. Employees should be given a chance to give an opinion because they receive the most impact of the organization culture. A good culture ensures that the needs of employees and those of the organizations have been met with minimum conflict between the two groups. When the organization needs and those of the employees have been met, there is satisfaction on both sides. Employees will be happy while the organization will be able to, meet its goals and objectives (Delaney, & Huselid, 1996). This way, there will be mutual benefit and employees will be retained in the organization.
In the depth component of this project, motivation was described in details to give insights on its theories and application. Most theorists in the field of human resource management have identified motivation as a key factor to employee satisfaction. Motivation gives one a reason to go higher and to do extra-ordinary things that could have not been done if there wasn’t a concern on the same (Huselid, Jackson and Schuler, 1997). Motivation influences human behavior both positively and negatively depending on its nature. From this understanding, it is evident that motivation can be used to solve a problem of employee turnover in contemporary organizations. As agreed earlier, employees leave organization due to lack of satisfaction brought about by either unfavorable job environment, conditions or poor pay.
When using motivation as a way to curb employee turnover, it is important to identify its critical three elements, i.e. direction, effort and persistence. The direction here is to reduce staff turnover and hard work refers to the strategies put in place to motivate employees. Persistence is obtained when motivation strategies are implemented repeatedly without fatigue (Dierickx and Cool, 1989). An organization seeking to reduce staff turnover will need to be persistent and hard working so as to realize their goal. There are two types of motivation and both can apply in terms of staff turnover reduction. Intrinsic motivation is brought through job satisfaction created by an organization. Here the organization is faced by a challenging task of understanding the needs and preferences of staffs, which when provided offers satisfaction. After providing a favorable environment that facilitates satisfaction, the management of an organization should provide feedback to the employees (Milgrom and Roberts, 1995). This feedback will enable them to know what they have achieved successfully and identify areas that need some improvements. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is motivation generated by different people through performing of certain functions. These functions should always be aimed at reducing employee turnover in the best way possible. If an employee is not satisfied in an organization, chances are that he/she will eventually leave for another organization. However, this can be countered by another person who does a specific thing that influences the employee convincing him/her to remain in the organization. Such specific things include pay increase, rewards, incentives and promotion among others. Extrinsic motivation is very powerful and applicable to many organizations, but do not last for long as compared to intrinsic motivation (Wright, McMahan, and McWilliams, 1994).
Based on Taylor’s argument, employees are motivated by money as the main factor. Penalties and rewards motivate employees and this directly relates to their overall performance. In this sense, employees get rewarded in case they make pleasing performance and punished when they fail. By doing this an organization would be implementing the instrumental theory of motivation. If organizations opted to apply the content theory in their management, they would work tirelessly to stabilize the unsatisfied situation that is likely to cause employee turnover (Teece, Pisano and Shuen, 1997). This is because once employees are not satisfied they are likely to leave an organization for search of greener pastures and this causes instability. Quality of employee’s job content in terms of safety, reward, benefits and payments matters a lot. Satisfaction must therefore be measured using these pillars and once done in that manner, staff turnover will reduce significantly. Satisfied staffs are loyal to the organization and would do anything for its success; come rain come sunshine.