Hrm – Motivation and Performance

2. Why is human resource management in general and employee motivation in particular, critical to performance yet challenging for managers? How can managers ensure that they encourage a motivated workforce? Using articles from literature and practical examples develop comprehensive answers to these questions. In today’s corporate environment, there is little room for managers to become nonchalant about their critical role in an organisations growth and development.
Human Resource Management (HRM) is an innovative concept that is being employed by businesses all over the world as a measure to remain competitive, or achieve greater competitive advantage, in their respective industries. This essay will discuss what HRM is generally thought to be and involve, and why it is so essential at this point in time for organisations to adopt as an essential part of their business strategy. Employee motivation is a critical aspect of HRM as it relates to employee performance and therefore overall organisational performance.
The hardships faced by managers when trying to implement strategies for employee motivation will be observed, as will the strengths and weaknesses of some possible approaches to obtaining and maintaining a motivated workforce. The Importance of HRM. Many organisations have observed the growing need to implement good HRM practices that are continually updated and improved. Broadly defined, “HRM refers to activities undertaken to attract, develop and maintain an effective workforce within an organisation” (Samson & Daft, 2005).

When we break down this definition into its key elements, it can be seen that HRM is extremely complex and involves many dimensions including, but not limited to, competitive pressure, changing social contract, the labour market, new ways of working and stakeholder engagement (Barsky, 2006, Lecture 7). These elements all play a major role in determining how effective an organisation is in its respective field and how it reacts to changes in its competitive environment. Kramer, McGraw and Schuler (1997) assert that in more recent times, competitive advantage is obtained by how an organisation manages its human esources (HR) as opposed to its management of information technology or ‘strategic positioning’. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) are a prime example of an organisation who have been able to effectively integrate positive HRM practices in order to work towards an organisational goal of having a safer country by reducing heroin intake to the point of a ‘draught’, as well as obtaining a high rate of employee satisfaction (91%) recorded in 2003 (Way, 2004). It is organisations who strive to give their employees opportunities to further develop and add to their skills base that are seen as advantageous leaders throughout the economy.
Further research has shown that “effective HRM has a positive impact on organisational performance, including higher employee productivity and stronger financial performance. ” (Delaney & Huselid, 1996). Ultimately, by managing HR effectively, employers are able to ensure that employees are reasonably satisfied with their job and will in turn strive to achieve their best for their respective employer. Employee motivation in relation to HRM. Behaviour of any kind is often motivated by some force, be it internal or external.
Motivation provokes “enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action” (Samson & Daft, 2005), and is a key aspect of a managers role in ensuring that their workforce continue to do their assigned jobs well and productively. Barsky (2006) emphasises the concept that motivation involves a few key aspects. Individual needs create a desire to realize these needs, behaviour is characterised by such needs, and rewards ultimately gratify individuals. Finally, feedback is used to determine if the actions undertaken to satisfy particular needs were appropriate and can be employed again at another time.
Because motivation in the workforce involves employees, it can be directly linked with HRM. Such linkage suggests that all managers, particularly HRM managers, play a vital role in ensuring that their workforce remains motivated. There are several approaches to managing motivation. Samson & Daft focus in particular on four agreed approaches including the traditional, human relations, human resource and contemporary approaches. Traditionally, money was seen as a great form of motivation, whereby workers were paid based on he “quality and quantity of their work outputs” (Samson & Daft, 2005). The human relations approach regards social factors as more important than monetary values, while human resources is an extension of this approach stating that employees themselves are of great importance to an organisation and can make valued contributions towards performance. More recently, the contemporary approach is divided into content, process and reinforcement theories and tends to cover all of the above aspects of motivation in greater depth with even more emphasis on employee contribution.
If employees are not motivated to perform for their respective employees, an organisation can suffer from poor productivity and an overall despondent atmosphere. ‘Sandstrom Products’, a paints and coatings manufacturer, were faced with such a problem when employees began to feel as if they had little or no say or control within the organisation. Leo Henkelman had started out in the lowest job in the plant but had gradually worked his way up to a higher, more respected position of mill operator.
However, when he made suggestions for improvement, his ideas were met with little enthusiasm from higher management. He was no longer motivated to perform productively for Sandstrom and became disinterested in his work, as did many other of the companies employees. Needless to say, productivity and profits declined and Sandstrom were forced to change their managerial processes to allow for a more open, trustworthy relationship between employee and employer. Such a change gave Henkelman the respect he craved and now says “that it would be difficult to work for another employer” (Whitford, 1995).
Challenges of employee motivation for managers. Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges a manager can face when motivating employees is the reality that “people differ not only in their ability to do but also their ‘will to do’” (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977). It is not easy to define exactly what will motivate different people to do certain jobs, for example some people are motivated by money, power, recognition or other incentives such as extra holidays or sick-leave, whilst others are motivated by a more socially responsible need to help others.
It is up to management to determine what those motivations might be for the people they have hired and how they might fairly and adequately utilise them in order to gain trust, reliability and increased productivity from their employees. The main idea is that “organisations offer ‘inducements’ and employees offer ‘contributions’” (March & Simon, 1958). So by offering employees something that they want or need, employers expect to receive positive inputs from their employees.
It is in determining what ‘inducements’ to offer that can ‘make or break’ an organisation. Many organisations are faced at some point in time, with the challenge of changing existing processes and procedures because they are no longer working as effectively as they should. When trying to increase motivation, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Organisational goals are the foundation on which such changes should occur; however a careful look at an organisations HR and motivators is perhaps secondary to this function.
Steve and Dianne Warren, co-owners of Katzinger’s Delicatessen, tried to implement a change to open-book management involving sharing financial rewards with employees if performance improved. However, the fact that many of their employees were young and not committed to a long-term career with Katzinger meant that they believed they could do little to change productivity in the short-term. Thus, motivation was low because the Warrens had not clearly looked at their HR to see what their wants and needs were (Hofman, 1998).
Ensuring a motivated workforce. There is no set way to ensure that an organisation will have and be able to maintain a motivated and effective workforce. There are however models for prescribing what peoples needs generally are such as physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualisation (Samson & Daft, 2005). Abraham Maslow (Wallace & Szilagyi, 1982) placed the above needs in a hierarchical structure with physiological needs at the bottom followed respectively by the four other prescribed needs.
It is generally recognised that lower-level needs should be satisfied before higher-order needs. When basic needs are fulfilled, other needs emerge and tend to change the motivation and behaviour of an individual. As we reach the higher-level needs we tend to see a vast difference in a persons motivation to work and achieve well. Physiological needs are perhaps the simplest needs to provide for, as this is directly related to monetary units, or how much a person is paid for their work.
As we move higher however, it becomes more difficult for managers to pinpoint exactly what to provide for employees in order to satisfy higher-level needs. For many people there may be a slight skew as to the order of their needs based on personality or the particular field of work they are in. Fortune (1985) discusses several business men and women who are typically motivated by differing desires such as listening to client needs, monetary rewards in the form of commissions, the idea that they are ‘helping’ others, or the need to learn from a current situation that is not particularly idyllic.
A good manager needs to be able to tap into such motivators and apply them to their respective workforce. CEO Rob Rodin of Marhsall Industries was highly criticised by colleagues and friends when deciding to remove a commissions based pay program for his electronic distributions company in 1992. Instead, he introduced profit sharing whereby everyone’s salary was the same percentage based on company performance. Rodin says that “productivity per person has almost tripled, and the system is more right today than it was six years ago. People no longer mask real results by shipping early in order to meet quotas or rearranging costs from quarter to quarter so as to make budget. He also believes trust has developed immensely because everyone is there to help each other, not make a large profit for themselves (Colvin, 1998). Rodin carefully looked at his company and was able to see that there was no sense of teamwork or responsibility within Marshall Industries, and that by providing the opportunity of profit sharing he was able to promote a sense of equity and fairness within the organisation.
Ultimately, a company’s capability in recruiting, training and keeping top-quality employees is a complex process that involves much analysis and continual assessment. HRM is the field from which motivation stems and relates to any aspect involving people within a workforce, and a motivated workforce is a key strategy in obtaining and keeping elite employees. Motivation must therefore be viewed as highly important by any organisation that wishes to keep productivity high and maintain a strong position in the economy now, and in the future.
References: Barsky, A. , (2006). Managing People and Organisations, Lecture 7, The University ofMelbourne. Colvin, G. (Aug 1998). What Money Makes You Do. Fortune. Vol. 138, Iss. 4; p213. Delaney, J. T. , Huselid, M. A. (1996). The Impact of Human Resource Management Practices on Perceptions of Organisational Performance, Academy of Management Journal. Hersey, P. , Blanchard, K. H. (1977). Management of Organisational Behaviour: UtilisingHuman Resources, 3rd ed. , Prentice-Hall. Hofman, M. (1998, July).
Everyone’s a Cost Cutter. Inc. , p116. Kramer, R. , McGraw, P. , Schuler, R. S. (1997). Human Resource Management inAustralia, 3rd ed. , Longman. March, J. G. , Simon, H. A. (1958). Organisations. New York: Wiley. Samson, D. , Daft R. L. (2005). Management, 2nd ed. , Thomson. Wallace, M. J. , Szilagyi, A. D. (1982). Managing Behaviour in Organisations, Scott,Foresman and Company. Way, N. , (2004, 2-8 September). Feds Democratic Revolution, Business Review Weekly. Whitford, D. (1995, June). Before & After. Inc. , pp. 44–50.

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