Ensuring Employee Loyalty and Competitive Human Capital


Human capital has become the single most important resource in today's business world (Aswathappa 2005). According to Christina & Gursoy (2009), forward thinking organizations are treating their human capital as assets where they take deliberate moves that ensure the human resource remains competitive, motivated and relevant to the overall organizational goals and objectives. One way of ensuring that employees remain loyal and committed to the organization and its vision is through motivation. It refers to the way in which drives, urges aspirations, needs and desires explain and control the behavior of mankind (Carr & Li-Ping 2005).

Over the years, the subject of employee motivation has been researched on with very many academic papers on the subject being published (Bell & Bart 1992). However, despite the extensive studies on this area many organizations are still faced with the challenge of how to motivate their employees so as to retain them as well as tap their full potential. It is important for all managers to realize that the basic skills for them to master is people management skills (Couger, Zawacki & Oppermann 1979). Debra & Campbell (2007) observe that managers should note that at the end of it all management revolves around people and how to motivate them so as to extract the best from them in terms of energy, ideas, commitment and enthusiasm.

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This paper seeks to look at employee motivation in the airline sector with Easyjet and Ryanair as the case studies.

Aim of the Study

The study seeks to look at the factors that enhance employee motivation in the airline sector where Easyjet and Ryanair are used as the case studies.

Research Objectives

To find out whether rewards and recognition enhance employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines

To ascertain whether employee training and career development enhances employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines.

To determine whether salaries and other benefits enhance employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines.

To find out whether a transparent performance appraisal system enhances employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines.

Research Questions

How does rewarding and recognition of employees enhance their motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines?

To what extent does employee training and career development, enhance their motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines?

How do salaries and other benefits enhance employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines?

In what way does a transparent performance appraisal system enhance employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines?

Research Hypothesis

Rewarding and recognition of employees at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines enhances their motivation.

Employees' training and career development at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines enhances their motivation.

Competitive salaries and other benefits enhance employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines.

The presence of a transparent performance appraisal system enhances employee motivation at Easyjet and Ryanair airlines.

Literature Review

It is the aspiration of every manager to a have a pull of employees who are committed to the organization as well as to its vision, mission and core values (Forsyth 2006). However, this may not be achieved unless the workers are compelled to do so by an external force. One of the ways of ensuring that employees remain loyal and committed to their organization is through motivation (Domeyer 1998).

Montana & Charnov (2008), define motivation as the intrinsic forces within an individual that inspires him to willingly engage his abilities in order to fulfill a given number of goals. Fiore 2004 defines it as the drive that propels a person into a fruitful action and keeps him in the same action with passion.

In the Two-Factor Theory of employee motivation, Herzberg tried to identify a number of issues that affect employee motivation (Lysne 1971). He found out that there are a number of factors that motivate employees at their place of work while others prevent them from being dissatisfied with their work (Yearta Maitlis & Briner 1995). He referred to the factors that motivate employees as motivators and described them as those factors that prompt employees to work thus leading to efficiency and job satisfaction (Morrison, Burke & Greene 2007)

They are factors whose bases are the employees' personal need for growth (Koontz & Weihrich 2006). In this theory, it was pointed out that when the motivators exist and are effective, they are capable of making the employees/workers realize above-average performance. Herzberg observed that the presence of these factors enhances employees' satisfaction (Tosi, Mero & Rizzo 2000). Some of the factors that were categorized as motivators include: recognition at the place of work, opportunity for career development, being entrusted with responsibility, being given challenging assignments as well as presence of training opportunities (Locke & Latham 1990)

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On the other hand, there are factors that do not necessarily motivate the employees but act to remove unhappiness from the place of work (Locke 1968). These are referred to as hygiene factors. They include: competitive wages and salaries, quality of supervision, job security, working conditions, employees interpersonal working relations as well as company policies and administration (Webb 2000). It is important to note that when these factors are there in high quality, employees are not likely to get dissatisfied with their job (Latham 2007). However, Locke & Latham 2002 states that this should not be taken to mean that they are motivated. Moreover, the absence of hygiene factors is known to create very high levels of employee dissatisfaction hence low morale (Kimball & Nink 2006)

According to Talloo 2007, employee motivation remains to be one of the greatest challenges at the work place. This is particularly typical of work environments that have not embraced employee motivation as a supported business strategy (Honold 1997). For organizations that are looking into the future, employee motivation has become one of their core values which they strategically strive to maintain (Rantz, Scott & Porter 2007). South-west airlines in the USA is one such organization that is a perfect living example of what most companies are striving to achieve in terms of employee motivation. This airline is characterized by lower employee turnover as compared to other airlines in the USA, low levels of absenteeism as well as high levels of employee satisfaction and motivation (Tjepkema 2002). These achievements have been attributed to a strong set of organizational values, placement of their human resource in the number one position, recognition and rewarding of jobs well done and transparency in performance management.

Christina & Gursoy (2009) observes that while employee motivation is considered to be important to the well being of the employees, it is also of equal significance to the business enterprise. Motivation amongst individuals, teams and groups enhances their empowerment and as such increase their productivity. This in turn goes a long way to increase profitability and the general business success (Doloi 2007).

Research Methodology

Research Design and Data Collection

The research will follow a descriptive survey. This will involve the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct the study. Qualitative method will be used to identify the various factors that enhance employee motivation while quantitative method will be used to ascertain the extent to which these factors affect employee motivation (Stake 1995). According to Creswell (2007), for a researcher to have an in-depth understanding of a given phenomenon, which is coupled with statistical certainty, then it is important for them to first conduct a qualitative research so as to have an understanding of the issues. Secondly, the validity of these issues can be ascertained by conducting a quantitative study.

Data will be collected by the use of structured questionnaires, scheduled oral interviews as well as observation. According to Klein & Myers (1999), structured questionnaires are easy to analyze, reduce bias as well as being familiar to many people. Oral interviews assist the researcher to obtain first hand information since he is able to see the phenomenon by himself (King 2004). In this case, primary data will be collected from the respondents. However, secondary data concerning employee motivation will also be collected. The researcher seeks to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Even though qualitative data will be the main one, quantitative data will allow the researcher to make deductions that are more conclusive and persuasive (Flick et al. 2005). This is so because the results obtained from quantitative data can be applicable in checking the themes coming out from qualitative data by either supporting or opposing them (Leedy & Ormrod 2005).

Data Analysis

Qualitative data will be analyzed by using thematic analysis method. According to Miles and Horseman 1994, the method is highly inductive since data is coded as per the theme hence grouped in different categories. Quantitative data analysis will then be conducted by using SPSS which is a computer program that presents the research findings in form of charts, polygons and graphs (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2007).The method is preferred over others because of its speed of execution as well as its applicability to descriptive statistics (Curwin & Slater 2007)

Reliability and Validity of Findings

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Validity of data obtained is one critical area in qualitative research (Creswell 2007). In order to address this issue as well as enhance the reliability of the findings, the researcher intends to compare his findings with those of others who might have conducted the study before. The researcher also intends to take back the findings to the respondents to give their views based on personal experiences.


It is important for a researcher to study before hand some of the limitations that might face his work before commencing (Chesebro & Borisoff 2007). In this case, the researcher is fully aware of some of the limitations that might face him in the course of the study. These include: some respondents failing to return their questionnaires, untrue information from the respondents as well lack of access to secondary data from the two firms (Maxwell 2005). To overcome these, the researcher plans to have a sample size that is big enough to allow him make reasonable conclusions even when some questionnaires are not returned (Salkind 2006). The researcher will compare answers from different respondents for him to ascertain whether it is true or not. Finally, the researcher will make a formal request to the two firms for him to be allowed to have access to secondary information of the firms.