Motivation in Practice

by Business Case Studies on Monday 12th April, 2010

Developing a motivated workforce can reap huge rewards for businesses. At the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the organisation that oversees the safe clearance and decontamination of early nuclear sites, motivation is not just concerned with employees working harder and more effectively. Motivation for NDA is also about developing workers that are committed to ensuring the future safety of industry and the public. Many of NDA's employees are highly skilled, so in addition to providing competitive pay and conditions, the organisation looks at ways it can meet its workers higher order needs through training and development opportunities. This can lead to improved promotion prospects that can increase responsibility, status and esteem within the workplace. In addition to this, staff enjoy a good working atmosphere with an emphasis on effective communication and support.

Organisations, like NDA, put a lot of thought into trying to meet the differing needs of their employees, but what motivates the employers? Jamie Oliver, owner of Jamie Oliver Holdings, currently employees around 4,000 people. He made the Sunday Times rich list when still in his twenties and has commented that he has made enough money to have retired 10 years ago. Why then, has he undertaken another mammoth task – trying to change the eating habits of obese American families? When asked in an interview what drives him, he couldn't give a definite answer. At this stage in his career, it's clearly not the money. (The Times 10th April 2010)

Business leaders cannot deny the benefits of a motivated workforce. Finding what actually motivates that workforce, when they might not even know themselves, is an entirely different challenge.

Questions

  1. Outline the benefits to businesses of having a motivated workforce.
  2. Explain how businesses can provide for the different needs shown in Maslow's Hierarchy.
  3. Evaluate the benefits for organisations of using a motivation theory, like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, when developing their HR strategies for motivating staff.

Answers to questions

  1. Outline the benefits to businesses of having a motivated workforce – • Greater productivity • Fewer accidents • Lower rates of absenteeism and labour turnover • Less conflict • Greater readiness to learn or change • Less need for supervision.
  2. Explain how businesses can provide for the different needs shown in Maslow's Hierarchy – • Basic e.g. through providing decent levels of pay • Safety e.g. through job security or the provision of safety equipment • Social e.g. providing team-working opportunities or organising staff social events • Self esteem e.g. through praise or 'Employee of the month' awards • Self actualisation e.g. through the provision of a structured career path and training.
  3. Evaluate the benefits for organisations of using a motivation theory, like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, when developing their HR strategies for motivating staff – On one hand… • Motivational theories can be a useful starting point for businesses to develop motivation policies • The theories may help businesses to consider a range of different motivational techniques that meet both higher and lower order needs. However, on the other hand… • People are individuals and will often respond in differing and sometimes unpredictable ways • The motivational theorists sometimes contradict each other e.g. pay is considered a motivator according to Maslow but not according to Herzberg's Two-factor theory • Theories often do not take into account the fact the workers may get some of their motivational needs met outside the workplace. It will depend upon… • Whether businesses take into account whether their workers are skilled or unskilled, young or old, experienced or inexperienced in their job roles.

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