Employees want to know how they can contribute to quality of work

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If we compare social institutions nowadays and 20 years ago, we notice that social institutions have been redefined. Earlier in time industrial conceptions of work were that the only motivation of employees were to work for economic reasons and that its strength was the best or only way of achieving goals of high output or low cost. However nowadays views of work are more inclusive, that is people no more work only for economic reason but for other reasons also such as personal development.

"In the first place we have a developing body of theoretical knowledge on man at work produced by behavioural science as well as a more informed approach to the general problem of managing organisations. In addition, social changes are significantly modifying the ways in which we define work."

[Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management]

What he wants to make us understand with this quote is that people are no more preoccupied with satisfying their basic needs as they are easily satisfied nowadays with modernization and facilities but are more concerned with satisfying their higher order needs, particularly those of self-actualisation and self-determination. As a result people are asking more from their organizations. Instead of employees only serving them, employees want to know how they can contribute to the quality of their work experience and personal development. All these movements have resulted in a shift of emphasis from extrinsic rewards to its intrinsic rewards. The social changes that occurred have compelled us to look at jobs from the viewpoint of the employee as well as that of the organization.

Job design:

Job design is defined as the specification of the contents, method and relationships of jobs to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the personal needs of job holders. [ www.accel-team.com/work-design]

Job content:

Job content is the activities which relate the individual employee to the object or raw material undergoing transformation.

Job relationship:

Job relationship is the pattern of activities (e.g interdependence and cooperation) which connect individual jobs to each other.

"The theory of job design, as we know it today, rests largely on the premise that effective performance and authentic satisfaction in work follow mainly from the intrinsic content of job. The practice of job design is concerned with designing the content of jobs in order to enhance intrinsic rewards such as feelings of achievement and worthwhile accomplishment."

[Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management]

From this small paragraph we can deduce that for an employee to achieve good performance and satisfaction at work, intrinsic content of job is very important. Thus when job design is done, feelings of achievement and worthwhile accomplishment should be considered, that is the goals set should not be too difficult to achieve.

"Management in the typical organization was characterized by having rather narrow jobs and very tightly written job description that almost seemed design to take the newness, conflict and challenge out of the job".

(A survey by 39 US industrial firms and government agencies (cited Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management)

Mass production jobs such as workers in textile industry can be viewed as having little or no intrinsic attraction. But we should not overlook the fact that many other areas and levels of work are also deficient to varying degrees in intrinsic rewards. Even jobs on the management level can be low on intrinsic content according to Robert Cooper's article on 'motivation in jobs'.

"Most job design applications embody changes in job content rather that job relationships and are usually described as job enlargement or job enrichment".

(Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management)

He further emphasizes that jobs may be increased by means of horizontal enlargement, meaning increasing the number and variety of existing task operations or by means of vertical enlargement which refers specifically to the addition of skills, autonomy and responsibility to the job. Job enrichment is another term for vertical enlargement.

Motivation in jobs:

"Job design theory depends on the motivational theory on which it is based. However motivation is concerned with 3 features of behavior namely:

Personal needs or wants

Rewards or outcomes of behavior

Means by which needs or wants are translated into outcomes, that is, how needs is satisfied

(Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management)

The means by which needs and wants can be converted into desired outcomes makes work very important in an employee's life. For effective job performance to be achieved, satisfaction of his own important needs and achievement of certain organizational requirements should be met. This definition focuses attention on the key role of means both for performance and for need satisfaction. According to Robert Cooper's research, performance and satisfaction depends on the appropriate means being available to the employee in the job.

Robert Cooper gives an integrative model on the 3 features of behavior of an employee:

NB Continuous (feed forward) lines indicate goal-directed processes.

Broken (feed back) lines indicate need-satisfaction and role-maintenance processes.

Reasons for choosing the integrative model of Robert Cooper:

The model is valid for any motivational theories since personal needs or wants are considered at the first level as it is based on the 3 fundamental features of motivational behaviour.

When considering the continuous (feed forward) and broken (feed backward) lines, it is logical that people work in order to satisfy their needs and wants, therefore they try to satisfy the goals and take on the responsibilities that the organization gives them. The goals and responsibilities are found in the job content and role requirement section. When the goals are achieved and responsibilities well held, the outcomes of their effort is obtained through the first level and second level outcomes. When these are satisfied the feed backward lines show that the employee's needs are satisfied and they maintain their roles in the organization through role requirements.

The model takes into consideration both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards which is fundamental for the satisfaction of an employee, which brings in good performance from the employee afterwards.

Detailed explanation of the model from Robert Cooper's research:

The integrative model of motivation begins with the employee's needs, grouped here according to their extrinsic and intrinsic natures. A brief explanation of the model is given below:

The employee uses the job as a means for realizing a variety of outcomes which serve to satisfy his needs.

Two aspects of the job affect his ability to realize desired outcomes namely:

(1) the means available in the job

(2) the role requirements.

Means refer to those features of the job which support or make possible behaviours required to attain outcomes successfully. (The absence of means or the presence of constraints will of course preclude or limit required behaviours.)

Role requirements represent the organization's and the employee's own expectations of the behaviour required in the job. Foremost are expectations of good performance and low absenteeism and turnover. The role requirements are, in effect, the standards by which effective job behaviour is judged.

The job outcomes or rewards are contingent upon satisfying the role requirements. Figure 1 indicates that means are causal to the attainment of role requirements.

Outcomes are of two types namely first-level and second-level outcomes. First-level outcomes are those which are directly contingent upon job performance - pay, promotion, job accomplishment, etc. In themselves, first-level outcomes have no value but acquire value through their ability to secure second-level outcomes such as food, clothing and shelter. Outcome feeds back (see broken lines in figure 1) to satisfy personal needs and maintain the probability of occurrence of role-required behaviours.

Extrinsic and intrinsic rewards affect motivation in quite different ways. Extrinsic rewards like money and praise are given exchange for attaining standards of behaviour laid down by the latter. Intrinsic rewards are under the direct control of the employee himself. A major assumption of current motivation theory is that intrinsic motivation contributes more to job behaviour and satisfaction than does extrinsic motivation [5]. The reason for this lies in the employee perceiving that, under intrinsic conditions, he is the prime cause of both his performance and his rewards whereas, under extrinsic conditions, performance and rewards depend more on external factors. In practice, this means that rewards in intrinsic motivation are more directly tied to performance and are less subject to temporal lags and organizational mediations than is the case with the performance- extrinsic reward relationship.

The relevance of job design lies in its ability to identify the specific characteristics of jobs that will optimize intrinsic motivation. Terms such as challenge and responsibility are commonly used to describe the motivating qualities of tasks. The problem with such terms is that they do not readily lend themselves to scientific study; they are poorly defined and they lack an underlying theory by which they can be causally related to such dependent variables as performance and satisfaction.

(Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management)

From Robert Cooper's research he says that through job design we are able to identify the specific characteristics of jobs that will increase intrinsic motivation. Terms such as challenge and responsibility are commonly used to describe the motivating qualities of tasks. The problem with such terms is that they are poorly defined and lack an underlying theory by which they can be related to such dependent variables as performance and satisfaction.

He proposed a framework of intrinsic job characteristics which attempts to deal with these deficiencies. The framework outlines 4 conceptually distinct intrinsic job dimensions namely:

1. Variety

2. Discretion

3. Contribution

4. Goal characteristics


Variety describes the amount of physical differentiation in the job and its surroundings, examples are:

differentiation in prescribed work place,

in physical location of work,

in prescribed work operations,

in the number of people available for interaction in the working area.

There is ample evidence from industrial studies to testify to the influence of Variety on employee behaviour and satisfaction according to Robert Cooper. The result from these studies is that little Variety in the job has a definite negative effect on performance, satisfaction and absenteeism. For example, from Robert Cooper's research[no date] he says that most of the early studies on boredom in work carried out by the former Industrial Fatigue Research Board were concerned with:

the effects of limited job Variety on the worker

increasing the amount of Variety in order to reduce boredom.

The data from the research supports the view that more varied work leads to greater productivity and that less varied work leads to greater variability of output and less liking for the task.

There seems to be two different forms of job variety that appear to have different motivational impacts on the employee namely:

1. the complexity of the spatial environment

2. The complexity of temporal environment

Spatial variety:

Spatial variety is the amount of variety within the immediate spatial setting of the job and is exemplified particularly by the variety of operations performed, their cycle times, as well as by features outside the task itself such as the number of people available for social interaction in the immediate work area. It seems likely that performance and satisfaction will be affected largely by 'stimulus satiation'

(a form of boredom produced by continued exposure to the same stimulus pattern) which can be dissipated by perceptual alternation among the various elements in the situation

Temporal variety:

Temporal variety in work is usually characterized by a change in the type of work as in job rotation or by scheduled stoppages such as those designed for rests or meals. It seems that 'hope' of an expected, desired change after a period of monotonous activity becomes the major determinant of performance and satisfaction. The work curves of routine tasks, for example, are invariably characterized by an upward swing towards the end of the work period.

Limitations of variety:

It is doubtful if Variety is a true motivator. Its value is probably limited to routine, repetitive-type jobs which characteristically induce feelings of boredom; an increase in Variety simply means a decrease in boredom. There is reason to suppose that the general relationship between Variety and the dependent variables of job behaviour will be of an accelerating form with lower levels of Variety exerting a particularly degrading effect on behaviour, the severity of this influence falling off gradually with increasing amounts of Variety. In other words, higher levels of Variety simply serve to make the job tolerable rather than positively attractive.


Discretion means being free to exercise choice. According to Robert Cooper discretion in work takes two forms namely:

choice in organizing the means and tools of one's work(means discretion)

choice of appropriate knowledge in the solution of problems.(skill discretion)

Discretion in skilled work:

Skilled occupations are more complex and varied than unskilled and semiskilled occupations. They require more training time and often a higher educational attainment. Abstract thinking in specialized fields may be required.

Examples of skilled jobs are:



school band directors



CEO of a business

Robert Cooper says in his research that in skilled work, the two forms of Discretion are dependent in that the successful application of Skill Discretion depends upon the freedom to manipulate the backup operations, that is, Means Discretion, as required.

Discretion in semi-skilled work:

Semiskilled occupations are more complex than unskilled work and distinctly simpler than the more highly skilled types of jobs. They contain more variables and require more judgment than do unskilled occupations. Even though semi-skilled occupations require more than 30 days for learning, the content of work activities in some semiskilled jobs may be little more than unskilled. Therefore, close attention must be paid to the actual complexities of the job in dealing with data, people, or objects and to the judgments required to do the work.

Examples of semi-skilled jobs are:


room service waiter


nurse's aide

administrative assistant

"Because of the largely routine, non-problematic nature of semi-skilled work, Skill Discretion exists only at a useless level. However, semi-skilled work does offer some scope for the exercise of choice in the way that methods, tools and pace of work are used. In fact, this is often the basis for the enlargement of semi-skilled jobs. Specifically, Means Discretion includes deciding the pace one wishes to work at, the methods to be used, and may extend to choice in accepting or rejecting the quality of incoming raw materials and in securing outside services". This form of Discretion is often referred to as Autonomy or Responsibility.

(Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management)

Satisfaction and job-commitment from discretion:

The motivational value derived from the previous form of discretion, that is autonomy and responsibility is that one is responsible for one's own job behaviour and the experience of being free from externally-mediated pressures, thereby enhancing job commitment and satisfaction. Skill Discretion is of course a key characteristic of skilled-work. For example when faced with a job problem, the employee refers to his store of appropriate knowledge and from it selects a set of responses which he believes will lead to a solution; this is the essence of Skill Discretion. The choice of an appropriate response is usually effected through the exercise of logic or trial-and-error. A high level of Skill Discretion in a job produces a keen sense of challenge which leads, after successful performance, to a feeling of achievement. It is this which makes Skill Discretion probably the most satisfying aspect of job content according to Robert Cooper. While there is clear evidence that both forms of job Discretion create satisfaction and lead to low absence and turnover levels, their direct effects on performance are questionable.

Discretion and performance:

In a study by Hackman and Lawler( [J R Hackman and E E Lawler, 'Employee Reactions to Job Characteristics', Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 55, No 3,

1971, pp 259-286.]cited Robert Cooper [no date]) found small but significant relationships between Autonomy (ie, Means Discretion) and rated performance (quality, quantity, overall effectiveness) for telephone company employees, but Hall and Lawler [D T Hall and E E Lawler, 'Job Characteristics and Pressures and

the Organizational Integration of Professionals', Administrative

Science Quarterly, Vol 15; No 3, 1970, pp 271-281.] cited Robert Cooper[no date])found no relationship between a measure of Job Challenge (which included both our forms of Discretion) and performance criteria in a study of research and development scientists. Yet Hall and Lawler did find that Job Challenge was significantly related to perceived pressure to do high quality work. This latter finding agrees with Lawler's review of ten well-known job enlargement studies (most of which were characterized mainly by the addition of Means Discretion) which showed increases in job quality but not in job output [E E Lawler, 'Job Design and Employee Motivation', Personnel

Psychology, Vol 22, No 4,1969, pp 426-435.]. When people are given Discretion for their work, they are likely to question their performance standards in terms of quality rather than quantity. But neither quality nor quantity can be understood in relation to any aspect of Discretion unless some goal-setting mechanism is brought into operation. The Discretion in the job affords the freedom for the employee to set (or indeed not to set) a performance goal but one cannot know whether he has or has not set a specific goal just from knowing whether a task has Discretion. In other words, performance levels cannot be inferred from the presence of either form of discretion; the level of performance depends upon the employee's response to the job and, in particular', on whether or not he sets specific goals - only then can we legitimately posit a relationship with quality and/or quantity of performance. It is worth noting that perceived pressure for quality work was significantly and positively related to performance in the previously mentioned Hall and Lawler study of research and development scientists. It is likely that the pressures for quality work were translated into specific goals by the individual scientist and thus influenced his performance level.

Goal characteristics:

Employees pursue goals because they value a lot the rewards they will be offered after having achieved the goals, that is, to gain food, shelter, money, promotion, love and so on. Goal content motivation can be referred to as extrinsic motivation as well as intrinsic motivation as one performs the task for some reason external to the task itself and one can also like working on the task itself. Robert Cooper adds that in addition to goal content, goals possess a certain structure or form which is constituted by:

1. The clarity of the goal

2. The level of difficulty of the goal

He further adds that it is these structural features which directly affect task behaviour. Goal clarity performance may differ according to the clarity or specificity with which the performance criteria are described.

He gives a good example:". If I instruct a student to 'write a paper for me', I present him with a goal of low clarity; he is unclear as to how long the paper should be and when he should complete it by. The clarity of his goal is increased to the extent that I provide this additional information".]. Goal Difficulty Goals which are either too easy or too difficult are less motivating than those of medium difficulty - the latter provide a manageable degree of challenge to the employee and thus draws on his motivation.


From Robert Cooper's article, he says that few studies have examined the implications of the Contribution concept for job behaviour. Among these, probably the clearest set of data comes from a study of 208 male and female employees of a US telephone company carried out by Hackman and Lawler [no information]. As their measure of Contribution, these investigators used the concept of Task Identity (which they defined largely in terms of the extent to which the employee can do a 'whole' piece of work). They found that Task Identity was significantly related to performance and satisfaction, and negatively related to absenteeism.

(Robert Cooper.1974.Job motivation and job design. Institute of personnel management)

Worker productivity model by Lopez-Ortega:

A model with the purpose of explaining the behavior or the productivity of a worker was constructed at the Engineering Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (II-UNAM). The objectives of this work are:

To obtain a clear causal model that identifies in a simple manner how certain factors relate to yield a productivity level.

To have a model that can be used to simulate the response of the productivity of a worker to different actions. This would help companies in diagnosing the quality of their treatment of human resources and in designing new policies to improve that treatment.

To have a model which helps managers, directors and supervisors in learning the impact of their decisions on the complex phenomenon of the productivity of a worker.

In 1978 James C. Hershauer and William A. Ruch (Hershauer and Ruch, 1978) developed at the Arizona State University, a similar model to illustrate the way in which certain factors interact to achieve the productivity level of a worker. This model was considered a novelty and was cited in a good number of publications about productivity. Hershauer and Ruch reported that the model was used at Lincoln Electric as a training tool for supervisors at the production lines and it proved to be valuable in explaining the complexity of the relations that lead to the level of productivity of a worker. In spite of this, the model was never traduced into a program, nor was it used for simulation. The authors considered impossible to measure the factors of human behavior and business management in a quantitative manner in order to feed a simulator.

The model developed at II-UNAM takes into account four levels of influence to the productivity of a worker:

1. Personal factors

2. Factors of the work team

3. Technological factors

4. Organizational factors


The proposed model considers ten factors that influence the productivity of a worker. They are located inside the four levels of the picture above.

2.1 Personal factors


Responsibility consists on the compromise of the worker to the execution of the tasks he/she is responsible for. It is a complex psychological process which's result depends on the attitude of the worker and on several external factors that influence the worker's satisfaction.

Learning capacity

It refers to the abilities possessed by the worker to learn and to use his/her knowledge to perform the tasks he/she carries out. It is linked to the education level and to the willingness to learn.


Satisfaction is a factor which motivates the unlimited display of responsibility and learning capacity of a worker. It is a complex factor which synthesizes several factors generated in the three levels of factors that are above the personal factors.

2.2 Factors of the work group


It refers to the immediate superior or manager of the worker. The supervisor's appropriate leadership allows the creation of an adequate working atmosphere within the work group. The leadership abilities of the supervisor are a crucial element in increasing the worker's satisfaction.

Work team organization

Good relationships and organization within the work team allow an adequate balance of the effort and makes possible a positive motivation of each member of the team.

2.3 Technological factors


It refers to the continuous effort to improve the abilities and knowledge of the worker.

Working methods

This factor refers to the characteristics of the productive processes that the worker performs: safety, comfort, required physical effort, etc.

2.4 Organizational factors

Qualitative incentives

It refers to the non-monetary incentives that allow to increase the worker's satisfaction: rewards, honors, social activities, etc.

Quantitative incentives

This factor is about the monetary incentives that the worker receives according to the productivity achieved by him/her and his/her work group.

Productivity indicators

An adequate measurement of the worker's productivity is a relevant factor for the definition of incentives and, consequently for the worker's satisfaction. Also, good productivity indicators give the worker an important feedback on his/her performance.


The development of the model consists on two stages. In the first stage, the dynamic model is constructed based on the causal cycles developed for each factor and each level of factors. Based on those causal cycles the dynamic diagram with 10 level or accumulation variables was built.

All the level or accumulation variables have an initial value of one that corresponds to an index. Simulation runs were performed in order to adjust the behavior of the model. The second stage consists on using the model at different companies with the purpose of adjusting the values assigned to several auxiliary variables.


The main differences between this new model and the Hershauer and Ruch model are:

The new model presents the 10 productivity factors grouped in fourth levels or subsystems. This fact facilitates the comprehension of the model.

The Hershauer and Ruch model was only a conceptual model; it was not programmed as a dynamic model. The new model was developed and programmed in Powersim software. Therefore, the new model can be tried and adjusted with enterprises results associated to work productivity improvements. At present, the new model is being tried by two enterprises.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs motivational model

Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs model in 1940-50s USA, and the Hierarchy of Needs theory remains valid today for understanding human motivation, management training, and personal development. Indeed, Maslow's ideas surrounding the Hierarchy of Needs concerning the responsibility of employers to provide a workplace environment that encourages and enables employees to fulfil their own unique potential (self-actualization) are today more relevant than ever. Abraham Maslow's book Motivation and Personality, published in 1954 (second edition 1970) introduced the Hierarchy of Needs, and Maslow extended his ideas in other work, notably his later book Toward A Psychology Of Being, a significant and relevant commentary, which has been revised in recent times by Richard Lowry, who is in his own right a leading academic in the field of motivational psychology.

The Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs five-stage model below (structure and terminology - not the precise pyramid diagram itself) is clearly and directly attributable to Maslow; later versions of the theory with added motivational stages are not so clearly attributable to Maslow. These extended models have instead been inferred by others from Maslow's work. Specifically Maslow refers to the needs Cognitive, Aesthetic and Transcendence (subsequently shown as distinct needs levels in some interpretations of his theory) as additional aspects of motivation, but not as distinct levels in the Hierarchy of Needs.

Where Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is shown with more than five levels these models have been extended through interpretation of Maslow's work by other people. These augmented models and diagrams are shown as the adapted seven and eight-stage Hierarchy of Needs pyramid diagrams and models below.

Each of us is motivated by needs. Our most basic needs are inborn, having evolved over tens of thousands of years. Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs helps to explain how these needs motivate us all.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs states that we must satisfy each need in turn, starting with the first, which deals with the most obvious needs for survival itself. Only when the lower order needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied are we concerned with the higher order needs of influence and personal development. Conversely, if the things that satisfy our lower order needs are swept away, we are no longer concerned about the maintenance of our higher order needs.

Maslow's original Hierarchy of Needs model was developed between 1943-1954, and first widely published in Motivation and Personality in 1954. At this time the Hierarchy of Needs model comprised five needs. This original version remains for most people the definitive Hierarchy of Needs.

1. Biological and Physiological needs: air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs: protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

3. Belongingness and Love needs: work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

4. Esteem needs: self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

5. Self-Actualization needs: realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Douglas McGregor's XY Theory:

Douglas McGregor, an American social psychologist, proposed his famous X-Y theory in his 1960 book 'The Human Side Of Enterprise'. Theory x and theory y are still referred to commonly in the field of management and motivation, and whilst more recent studies have questioned the rigidity of the model, Mcgregor's X-Y Theory remains a valid basic principle from which to develop positive management style and techniques. McGregor's XY Theory remains central to organizational development, and to improving organizational culture.

McGregor's X-Y theory is a salutary and simple reminder of the natural rules for managing people, which under the pressure of day-to-day business are all too easily forgotten.

McGregor's ideas suggest that there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.

McGregor's ideas significantly relate to modern understanding of the Psychological Contract, which provides many ways to appreciate the unhelpful nature of X-Theory leadership, and the useful constructive beneficial nature of Y-Theory leadership.

Theory x ('authoritarian management' style):

The average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can. Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organisational objectives.

The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

Theory y ('participative management' style)

Effort in work is as natural as work and play.

People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organisational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.

Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.

People usually accept and often seek responsibility.

The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organisational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.

In industry the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilised.