Organisational Behaviour in Action Case The Employee Whisperer

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1.What makes a workplace "fun?" What are your personal on-the-job experiences with productivity-enhancing fun? Describe them.

A workplace is fun if the employees enjoy what they're doing, get along with each other which includes being able to work well as a team, play by the organization's rules, and have mutual respect for each other. Job recognition and getting rewarded for a job well done are both important. Lastly, employees have to trust and respect management, and vice versa.

At my present place of employment, one of the things we do to increase productivity is to go out to lunch every Thursday and trade information on what we've been experiencing, whether good or bad, throughout that particular week. Since this is a technical support position in a school setting, we encounter different problems all the time and lunches are a good informal way to bounce ideas and solutions off each other. We also have staff meetings every other week on Wednesday mornings. This is a more formal process where everyone takes a turn speaking and tells what's been going on in their particular buildings with the administrators, teachers, students and all of the computers housed in these buildings.

During the day, while in the office, we also play Internet radio and try to find a station that everyone likes. When a familiar song comes on, we sometimes all compete to see who can identify the song first. We've found that occasionally this is a good way for us to let off steam if we're all working on different projects and need a break from looking at data all day.

Our employer often identifies and embraces new technical concepts, such as new operating systems, new security software, or new networking hardware. They then identify certain employees to go take part in trainings on new technology to further their careers and educations. Each time an opportunity for learning arises, different people are chosen for different trainings, so it's a pretty fair process. We are also often asked what training we would like or need so we don't become stagnant in our careers. It allows us to continually progress as employees.

At my former place of employment which was a privately owned computer company, we had chances to win prizes such as trips to the Super Bowl, or free computer equipment in monthly drawings, if as a team, we met performance and selling goals for the month or year. There were contests between various teams of people, and these competitions made the job enjoyable and ultimately benefited both the employees and the company because we could win prizes while boosting company sales.

2. Why do Kenexa's leaders have no excuses when it comes to creating a productive performance management program?

Kenexa's newest recruitment slogan is "recruit the best, retain the best" (Kutik, B. 2010). At Kenexa, they teach that an employee who gets what they want out of their job will ultimately boost their own self-esteem. The following comment made by Rudy Karsan states that Kenexa "sells its own dog food internally." Everything from recognition programs to in-house competitions to the corporate structure is constantly subject to employee feedback, and everything is meant to boost involvement and loyalty (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010, p. 270).

There is a direct quote on Kenexa's web site that says, "We live these values with every customer and co-worker interaction, and believe that these five components are necessary to solving business problems and improving business outcomes." (Mission and Service, 2010). The five components are mutual learning, proactivity, responsiveness, timeliness, and accuracy. The reason they couldn't possibly have any excuses is that they claim to live their own values. How can Kenexa spout off these values to other companies if they don't honor these same values themselves?

Kenexa's own goal is to enhance or better the relationship between management and employees by constantly asking for their feedback, and it promotes this same type of idea to its clients. Kenexa also selects the clients it has very carefully and then strives to keep them through the philosophy of valuing employees and thinking of them as the best assets of the company.

3. If you worked as a salesperson for Kenexa, what would be the key talking points in your sales pitch?

If I was a salesperson at Kenexa, and I had to convince other companies to use our service, I would use the following key points in my sales pitch:

If you hire Kenexa to recruit your employees, you won't regret your decision. Our slogan is "we recruit the best, so you can retain the best."

We have many ways of motivating your company's employees other than money and power.

Our goal is to help your company instill pride and happiness in your employees so they do the best job for you.

In order to retain your employees, you have to provide continuous challenges for them in the way of training and professional development.

We will help your company foster an environment that makes your employees want to come to work every day.

You need to recognize and reward your employee's efforts.

Listening is an important part of interaction with all your employees.

The more your employees smile at work, the more it makes other people around them smile. It's contagious!

Don't punish your employees for making honest mistakes: it should be your hope that they will learn from their mistakes and become better employees.

When your employees are at the office, our goal is to make the day as pleasant as possible so they don't watch the clock, and will be more productive.

I would continue my sales pitch by telling a prospective client that by following all of the above statements, they would be able to improve employee morale and make their employees more productive; thereby furthering the success of their company.

4. In terms of Thomas's four building blocks in Figure 9-3, how would you rate Kenexa's potential for generating intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation comes from within an individual, and can be thought of as a sense of accomplishment from seeing a job well done, or the desire to do something (like your job) because you enjoy it, rather than extrinsic or outside motivation such as a raise in pay or a promotion. It can also be defined as why you do what you do as an employee. Looking back at Maslow's Need Hierarchy Theory, #5 self-actualization is the desire for self-fulfillment - to become the best one is capable of becoming (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010, p. 213). Kenexa definitely generates this type of intrinsic motivation.

Meaningfulness is a non-cynical climate, an exciting vision, relevant task purposes, whole tasks, and clearly identified passions. If managers inspire their employees and help them to model desired behaviors, they give that person's job meaningfulness (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010). For example, Kenexa has a staff of scientists who survey the employees to find out what motivates and inspires them. Rudy Karsan says "Through their work, people find dignity" (Rockwood, 2008). Kenexa provides the best working environments by identifying the best individuals for every job. They foster a non-cynical climate because they allow their employees to openly express their opinions without being subject to cynicism or scorn.

The building block of choice talks about delegated authority, trust in workers, no consequences for honest mistakes, a clear purpose, and information. Trust is one of the biggest intrinsic motivations (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010, p.258). If an employee feels he or she is trusted by management, they will do a better job. Managers must feel comfortable delegating clearly defined tasks and employees must feel the same by taking on these tasks. If you improve the engagement of a person by giving them challenging assignments with clear instructions, you not only improve the person and help them to enjoy their job; you've ultimately improved the whole workplace in general. Since Kenexa's employees have a clear purpose and enough information from management to perform the duties delegated to them, they would be more self-motivated and as such, wouldn't require constant supervision.

Competence is about knowledge, positive feedback, skill recognition, challenge, and high standards. It involves supporting and coaching employees. (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010, p. 258). Kenexa's stated vision from their web site says: "At Kenexa, we believe that when people are in jobs they love, they are not only more productive employees, they are also better parents, friends, partners, and neighbors" (systematicHR, 2008). Our work is to make this happen for everyone. It's our passion - our purpose - and it's how we serve humanity worldwide every day" (Kenexa Web Site, HR Success Multiplied). Kenexa recognizes the skills of the employees they have, promotes employee development by adding to the knowledge and skills of their employees, thereby creating new challenges, and enhancing their professional growth.

The building block of progress is about having a collaborative climate, milestones, celebrations, access to customers, and measurement of improvement. Management helps employees move ahead at work by monitoring their progress and rewarding them accordingly. At Kenexa, there are recognition programs and in-house competitions (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010, p. 270). These types of motivations would lead employees to feel valued. "Valuing others isn't a leadership thing, it's a people thing, and it is probably the people thing that the majority of us cherish the most" (Jolton, 2009). Being valued at work is definitely a big intrinsic motivator. Kenexa is constantly looking for employee feedback, which leads to better employee involvement and loyalty. By recognizing when their employees reach certain milestones in their careers, and celebrating those milestones with them, they are helping them become more valuable assets to Kenexa, and improving their employees'self-worth.

5. Would you like to work at Kenexa? Why or why not?

Working at Kenexa would be a good opportunity because it seems as if they truly value their employees. They depend very heavily on employee feedback to continually keep their employees happy, and engaged in what they do on a daily basis. Their employees are really involved in what goes on in the company and it seems as if they are really proud of where they work. The article in our book stated that Kenexa "devises strategies to improve work environments and recruit, evaluate, and keep talent". It also says that Kenexa says it draws a line directly from their employees to its own success. (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2010, p.270). This statement really emphasizes the fact that they value their employees and realizes that Kenexa would not be where it is today without their employees.

Kenexa is a leader in the personnel recruiting industry. From everything I've read so far on their competition, it seems as if they are head and shoulders above similar companies because of the beliefs they follow. There are other competitors who also offer applicant tracking software for personnel recruiting. One such company is Taleo. According to Taleo's web site, their mission statement says, "Our mission is to provide the leading on demand talent management solution that drives improved business performance" (Taleo, Missions and Values, 2010). It seems that although Taleo's web site speaks of integrity and passion, they are more focused on business performance. It doesn't seem as if Taleo is as intense as Kenexa is about job passions, employee happiness, and employee retention. Valuing employees is one of the main points that Kenexa stresses, and this subject isn't even mentioned on Taleo's web site.

In conclusion, Kenexa has landed some of the top Fortune 100 companies such as GM, McDonald's, Time-Warner and Wachovia Bank. Such an accomplishment occurred because they have an excellent reputation in employee retention, and truly believe in and practice the philosophies they sell to their customers. What they promote inside the company is exactly what they preach to their clients. This is a rarity out in the work world and potential job hunters would be very lucky to be hired by Kenexa.