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Motivational problems at all levels of employment have received considerable attention in the study of individuals within organisational hierarchies. Gallagher and Einhorn (1976:358) note that these problems are increasingly apparent at blue collar level, where established and maximized task specialisation - in an attempt to attain efficiency through repetitious programmed jobs - has led to high levels of job dissatisfaction and a lack of motivation even after implementation of typical incentives - notably the level of pay.
This seemingly paradoxical outcome has led many to question if pay is the overarching factor of motivation or if job satisfaction, stemming from job design is more important. In this essay I shall explore which has the greater affect on employee motivation. It is important to note that at some points emphasis is placed on external and extrinsic rewards, the reader must view pay as a major component of these.
Do both Job-design and Pay motivate?
If McGregorï¿½s (1960) theory X / theory Y analysis of employees is investigated, theory Y assumes the agents are willing to accept higher levels of responsibility and are naturally motivated. This suggests that the design of jobs, or the ï¿½work re-design processï¿½ as termed by Hackman and Oldham (1979:250), could lead to increased motivation if employeesï¿½ internal drive can be supported and nurtured.
Numerous studies show the vast majority of employees are motivated by pay, although each to a different degree. One particular survey of 1200 randomly selected U.S. employees by WorldatWork and Sibson & Company (2000) showed 54% of employees rated direct financial rewards as ï¿½very importantï¿½ or ï¿½extremely importantï¿½ to motivation. Another surveyed 1500 productivity professionals with the outcome that financial reward systems had a ï¿½positiveï¿½ or ï¿½very positiveï¿½ impact on performance in 66% to 89% of the companies in which they were implemented (American Productivity Center, 1987).
Hence, both job-design and pay have to ability to motivate. Which motivates more shall now be explored further.
Which motivates more?
Job design can be defined as the ï¿½specification of the contents, methods, and relationship of jobs in order to satisfy technological and organisational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holderï¿½ (Rush, 1971:5); and has become increasingly more prominent as a stratagem in attempting to improve both productivity and the work experience of employees in modern organisations (Hackman and Oldham, 1976:250).
To understand how, and to what extent job design affects motivation consideration is needed of particular aspects of job design.
Through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries design by job specialisation was the universal direction taken by work management theory. It focussed on ï¿½technological and organisationalï¿½ requirements of employment (Gallagher & Einhorn, 1976:359).
Job specialisation however has been accused of disregarding social and internal needs of the workers (see Herzberg, 1968; Rush, 1971; Gallagher & Einhorn 1976) these needs were found to be key factors in motivation and performance (see Mayoï¿½s Hawthorne Studies, 1949)
Two categories of job design have developed. Job rotation involves an employee being moved through, and educated in numerous departments that are similar or linked to a core job. This is an attempt to give the employee a broader knowledge base and understanding of his/her position in the organisation (Rush, 1971:13).
Strongly related to rotation; job enlargement expands workersï¿½ tasks to include outlying ones that would originally have been implemented by other departments.
Both job enlargement and job rotation attempt to motivate by increasing job interest through more varied tasks, that allow development of those ï¿½assumptionsï¿½ made in McGregorï¿½s (1960) theory Y formulation ï¿½ in particular instilling increased responsibility in an attempt to motivate employees. The intended effect is to augment worker motivation by incorporating intrinsic incentives as the job is presently more varied and interesting (Rush, 1971:13).
However these attempts at incorporating intrinsic incentives into job design - termed as ï¿½horizontal loadingï¿½ (Herzberg, 1968:59) - have been heavily criticised. Hertzberg comments that ï¿½horizontal job loading has been the problem of earlier job enlargement programsï¿½. He continues, stating that ï¿½Adding another meaningless task to the existing one, usually some routine clerical activity. The arithmetic here is adding zero to zero.ï¿½
In a contrasting view Oldham and Hackman (1981:69) comment ï¿½that the greater the substantive complexity of jobs, the more employees tended to be self ï¿½ confident, receptive to change, committed to their occupations, and relatively free of feelings of powerlessness, normlessness, and self-estrangement (Kohn & Schooler, 1973, 1978; Kohn, 1976; Miller et al., 1979)ï¿½ and therefore more motivated.
Schoderbek and Rief (1969:8) hold a similar view to my own ï¿½ an emphasis on variety in work leads only to the addition of similar duties to a central task. This ï¿½job extensionï¿½ is simply a program that instils increased fatigue and boredom in employment.
It is generally accepted that this initial type of job design does little to motivate employees. The second type of job design is termed job enrichment ï¿½ here the employee assumes a more vital role. Planning and aspect evaluation is undertaken by the employee him/herself, often variety of task is also increased. However the principal motivation is that the worker gains more control, and therefore increased responsibility (Rush, 1971:13).
As job enrichment is presently believed to be the most effective form of job design (see Herzberg, 1968; Rush, 1971; Gallagher & Einhorn, 1976; Oldham & Hackman, 1981) motivation theory will be used to explore if job design through job enrichment, or the level of pay, has a more profound effect on motivation.
Maslowï¿½s hierarchy (1954) explains how motivation is ultimately linked with attempts to satisfy and attain fundamental needs. The lowest level of his motivational hierarchy is physiological needs - as these needs are fulfilled the needs on the motivational plateau above become desired. The higher level needs require increased motivation to attain, while being possible factors for further motivation.
The higher level needs, esteem and self-actualisation, are those that are influenced by job design. Basic needs along with the respect aspect of the esteem stage are satisfied by external factors, outside the person through interaction with others and attainment of physical and psychological needs, and materialistic wants.
The plateaux above these require an ï¿½internal reaction to eventsï¿½ - self-confidence, esteem, the pleasure gleaned from successes, acceptance of responsibility and exercise of personal skills (Gallagher & Einhorn, 1976:363). These are the same needs McGregorï¿½s (1960) theory Y formulation assumes agents have, and those ï¿½intrinsic rewardsï¿½ that Rush (1971:13) describes as the intended effect of job design. Therefore if the fulfilment of these needs can be incorporated into job enrichment programs they would instil higher levels of motivation in employees.
Maslowï¿½s hierarchy can also be used to portray how, and to what extent pay motivates. Herzberg (1969:57) comments that basic biological needs ï¿½ the physiological needs in Maslowï¿½s hierarchy ï¿½ are ï¿½learned drives which become conditionedï¿½. Herzberg identifies food as a basic biological drive that makes it necessary to earn money. Therefore money becomes conditioned as a specific drive, a drive to obtain food (one of the needs in the lowest plateau in Maslowï¿½s hierarchy.)
The superior needs in the hierarchy require motivational levels from the agent to be elevated above the level that is required to attain needs on lower plateaux. Thus, through Maslowï¿½s theory, the ï¿½intrinsic rewardsï¿½ (Rush, 1971;13) that can be incorporated in job design motivate more effectively than external and financial rewards.
Herzberg ï¿½Motivation-Hygiene Theoryï¿½
This theory ï¿½first drawn from an examination of events in the lives of engineers and accountantsï¿½ (Herzberg, 1968:56) reinforces that differing levels of motivation stem from ï¿½intrinsic rewardsï¿½ and ï¿½extrinsic rewardsï¿½ (Rush, 1971) including pay.
Hygiene factors Motivation
Company policy and administration Achievement
Relationship with supervisor Work itself
Work conditions Responsibility
Relationship with peers Growth
Relationship with subordinates
With the ï¿½Motivation-Hygiene Theoryï¿½ Herzberg attempts to show that ï¿½the factors involved in producing job satisfaction (and motivation) are separate and distinct from the factors that lead to job dissatisfaction.ï¿½ (Herzberg, 1968:57) The positive relation between the level of job satisfaction and motivation must be noted.
The elements that lead to dissatisfaction are those termed ï¿½Hygiene factorsï¿½, these factors are ï¿½extrinsic rewardsï¿½; ones that lay below the elevated levels of Maslowï¿½s hierarchy. Herzbergï¿½s (1968:55) ï¿½Hygiene factorsï¿½ originate from his ï¿½positive KITA personnel practicesï¿½ one of which is ï¿½spiralling wages and fringe benefitsï¿½ ï¿½ financial rewards. He acknowledges that pay has motivated people ï¿½to seek the next wage increaseï¿½ but concludes that employees work less for higher levels of pay and job security.
These KITA practices only results in short term movement (Herzberg, 1968:56). Essentially they motivate for a time but once acknowledged, are then the norm ï¿½ highly evident in pay rises. I believe this eventual fundamental acceptance serves not only to return motivation back to post-implementation level but to further decrease the level of ï¿½short term movementï¿½ subsequent pay rises or financial benefits may cause.
Maslowï¿½s Hierarchy and Herzbergï¿½s ï¿½Motivation-Hygiene Theoryï¿½ are both ï¿½need and motivationï¿½ theories. Thus, both suggest that ï¿½intrinsic rewardsï¿½ such as self-confidence, esteem, the pleasure from successes, acceptance of responsibility and exercise of personal skills (Gallagher & Einhorn, 1976:363) seem to be more potent in instilling motivation than external or ï¿½extrinsic rewardsï¿½ ï¿½ the hygiene factors including pay.
A more sophisticated view of the effects on ï¿½intrinsicï¿½ and ï¿½extrinsicï¿½ rewards in their role of motivation is explained in the Cognitive Evaluation Theory (Deci, 1975; Deci & Ryan, 1980). Deci (1971:106) found that verbal praise enforced intrinsic motivation, but extrinsic rewards undermined it.
Gagnï¿½ and Deci (2005:332) - with references to other studies - explain that the Cognitive evaluation theory suggests ï¿½tangible extrinsic rewards, deadlines (Amabile, Dejong & Lepper, 1976), surveillance (Lepper & Greene, 1975), and evaluations (Smith 1975) tend to diminish feelings of autonomy, prompt a change in perceived locus of causality (PLOC) from internal to external (deCharms, 1968; Heider, 1985) and undermine intrinsic motivation.ï¿½
I believe this suggests that pay, along with other extrinsic rewards ï¿½ Herzberg ï¿½hygiene factorsï¿½ ï¿½ not only have a lesser affect on motivation, but when over relied upon can reduce the levels of motivation inspired by intrinsic rewards.
Deci (1972:57) comments alongside the Cognitive evaluation theory, that salary and threats control employees since they become the motive for performance, whereas intrinsic rewards such as verbal feedback serve to heighten levels of self esteem, confidence and achievement ï¿½ needs in the elevated levels of Maslowï¿½s hierarchy.
Deci concludes ï¿½ like Maslow and Herzberg ï¿½ that intrinsic rewards are: Firstly more effective since they require no external input for their motivational continuance; and secondly they fulfil high level needs thus prolonging feelings of achievement, confidence and esteem.
Since it is clear that job design ï¿½ job enrichment with a strong emphasis on intrinsic rewards ï¿½ can act as a motivator, the principles used to incorporate these into job design shall now be explored.
Herzberg (1968:59) terms these principles as ï¿½vertical job loadingï¿½, a distinct contrast with the aforementioned ï¿½horizontal job loadingï¿½ that are the techniques used in the less effective job enlargement and job rotation (Rush, 1971:13) programmes.
Figure III. Principles of vertical job loading
Principle Motivators involved
A . Removing some controls while Responsibility and
retaining accountability personal achievement
B. Increasing the accountability Responsibility and
of individuals for own work recognition
C. Giving a person complete Responsibility
natural unit of work (module, achievement, and
division, area and so on) recognition
D. Granting additional authority Responsibility,
to an employee in his achievement, and
activity; job freedom recognition
E. Making periodic reports Internal
directly available to the recognition
worker himself rather than
to the supervisor
F. Introducing new and more Growth and learning
difficult tasks not previously
G. Assigning individuals specific Responsibility,
or specialised tasks, enabling growth, and
them to become experts advancement
Herzbergï¿½s ï¿½vertical job loadingï¿½ principles of job enrichment allow intrinsic rewards to be built into specific tasks - as can be seen in Figure III. Each principle involves certain motivators drawn from Herzbergï¿½s ï¿½Motivation-Hygiene Theoryï¿½ (1968:57) shown in Figure II. I have already identified how these particular rewards motivate through both Herzbergï¿½s, Maslowï¿½s and Deciï¿½s formulations.
For example, Principle ï¿½Aï¿½ - ï¿½Removing some controls while retaining accountabilityï¿½ motivates since
(1) A decrease in controlling factors leads the agent to believe the supervisor has invested more responsibility in him/her.
(2) A heightened level of responsibility invested, with retained accountability, reinforces the agentï¿½s role in the task. Therefore increased agent dependability of task will lead to feelings of personal achievement upon successful completion.
The ï¿½vertical loading principlesï¿½ are designed to appeal to the esteem and self-actualisation need levels, those at the pinnacle of Maslowï¿½s motivational hierarchy. An agent may only attain these needs if they are highly motivated and have already fulfilled the lower needs ï¿½ notably the learned drive for pay.
My exploration of theories has investigated how job design and pay motivate, and to what extent significant levels of motivation are achieved. It has become clear that job design has the potential to motivate to a greater degree than pay. However job design must be implemented correctly for this to be the case. Job enlargement and job rotation (Rush, 1971) ï¿½often succeed in reducing the manï¿½s [workerï¿½s] personal contribution, rather than giving him an opportunity for growth in his accustomed jobï¿½ and ï¿½merely makes a job structurally biggerï¿½ (Herzberg, 1968:59) whereas ï¿½Job enrichment provides the opportunity for employeeï¿½s psychological growth.ï¿½ (Herzberg, 1969:59).
Numerous researchers suggest along with empirical evidence, that personal attributes coupled with job design combine to explain the relationship between organisation conditions, individualï¿½s attitudes and psychological functioning (Kohn, 1971; Kohn and Schooler, 1973; Frendrich, 1976) (paraphrase of Oldham & Hackman, 1981:78). This highlights an innate problem in both Maslowï¿½s hierarchy and Herzbergï¿½s ï¿½Motivation ï¿½ Hygieneï¿½ theory. Workerï¿½s personal attributes, individual attitudes and psychological function differ from one to another ï¿½ it is clear that these two theories do not account for the differences in levels of responsiveness of employees. However I believe this is not a severe drawback of the theory because the motivation to earn higher levels of pay also differs between employees.
The theories suggest intrinsic rewards built into job design are ultimately more important in motivating than pay. However Hall, Haas & Johnson (1967:905-12) explain how heavily structured tasks reduce job discretion and autonomy, and thus motivation. Therefore I believe if a process of job enrichment is to be successful the optimal point of job structure and complication in relation to the number of intrinsic rewards must be reached. The vast majority of Herzbergï¿½s ï¿½vertical job loading principlesï¿½ (1968:57) increase job difficulty and workload ï¿½ principle ï¿½Eï¿½ involves ï¿½Making periodic reports directly available to the worker himself rather than to the supervisorï¿½ ï¿½ this clearly expands the workload. If jobs are over structured using an excessive number of ï¿½the principlesï¿½ this could possibly lead to low levels of motivation or instil no motivation at all.
It is my view that although all of the explored theories portray intrinsic rewards, implemented in job design as more important in motivation it is wrong to believe pay plays no effect in motivation. The initial motivation to work for the vast majority of people is money. However once conditioned employees perceive money as a need, an inevitability of employment and therefore the motivation it instils falls. Heron (1948:132) comments that ï¿½material incentives can be supplements to... substitutes for... or obstacles toï¿½ good teamwork and motivation; my final conclusion is similar to this. Job design ï¿½ in particular job enrichment ï¿½ has a high intrinsic level of motivation; and the motivation stemming from the fulfilment of these elevated level needs - in Maslowï¿½s Hierarchy - is not only more important in motivation (attributable to its higher effectiveness) but also due to its ability to be incorporated into jobs, developed into internal drives and requirement of no external controls. Therefore it is more important than pay in achieving more effective, increased levels of motivation.