Research into Employee Motivation in Ernst and Young in Malaysia

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The purpose of this research is to study the factors that affect the motivation of Ernst & Young employees in Malaysia branches. Also explore the motivation strategies used by Ernst & Young to its employees and be able to recommend new motivational programs to the management that will improve the current motivational practices of the employees.


To identify the motivational factors that motivate Ernst & Young employee

To investigate how Maslow Hierarchy Theory affect the motivation

To determine how self-actualization affects the motivation among the employee

To understand the important reasons why employees retain or leave in the company and how motivation theories have emerged in attract talent employees

To find out the role of leadership and management in motivating employee in Ernst & Young

Research Question:

How the effects of compensation/salary and rewards to employee motivation?

How does teamwork affect work performance and motivation?

How do achievement and recognition affect motivation and job satisfaction?


Ernst & Young Malaysia was established in 1909 and was one of the first internationally linked public accounting firms in the country. In 2002, Hanafiah, Raslan & Mohamad, established in 1964 as the first Bumiputra accounting practice in Malaysia, became a member firm of Ernst & Young. Ernst & Young is now the largest professional services firms with more than 2,300 employees in 17 offices in West and East Malaysia. Ernst & Young (MY) is a market leader in the provision of assurance and advisory business services, tax and transaction advisory services, serving a board array of clients, covering all industries and market segments in Malaysia.

Significance of Study:

This research aims is to conduct research and examine the current factors that motivates the employees in Ernst & Young Malaysia. Besides that, this project also explore the factor influencing work motivation and job satisfaction for getting better performance and high productivity. The essence of that approach is to create basic conditions regarding changing job characteristics that promote high performance motivation, high satisfaction at work and match the job with the individual

Literature Review:

Robbins (1998) stated: Motivation - "The willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the effort's ability to satisfy some individual need". On the other hand, Greenberg and Baron (1997) define the motivation as "the set of processes that arouse, direct and maintain human behaviour toward attaining some goal" (Greenberg and Baron, 1997).

v     Theories of motivation can be divided into two: the content theories; and the process theories (Mullins, 1999). Content theories emphasize the factors that motivate individuals. Examples of content theories are Maslow's theory, Alfelder's theory, McClelland's theory, and Herzberg's theory (Mullins, 1999). On the other hand, the emphasis on process theories is on the actual process of motivation. Examples of process theories are Expectancy theories, equity theory, goal theory, and social learning theory.

Content Theories of Work Motivation

            Content theories propose that within individuals, there exist certain psychological characteristics, usually termed needs, which predispose the person to initiate, direct, and maintain effort. Earlier, theorists assumed that these were universal, inborn, human characteristics but later models introduced the notion of "learned needs" (McClelland, 1961, 1962, 1965a, 1965b, 1971).

v     The most basic theory of motivation is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The theory consists of five sets of goals, which are physiological, safety, love, esteem and self-actualization. The theory explains that people, including employees at organizations, are motivated by the desire to achieve or maintain the various conditions upon which these basic satisfactions rest and by certain more intellectual desires (Maslow, 1943).

            One of the earliest and still very influential theories was Maslow's needs hierarchy (Maslow, 1954, 1968). This was a general theory of what energizes people to action but it was quickly applied to the work situation. According to Maslow, the most basic needs are physiological-those that sustain physical life, such as the need for food. Next in the hierarchy are security needs-the need for physiological safety and shelter. Also in this group Maslow's term of social deprivation needs; is the need for affiliation-to feel that you belong, are loved, and so forth. If this latter need is not met, the person cannot achieve a healthy personality. Next are the growth needs, which are forward looking, driven, incentive motivators.

            The first of these is the need for self-esteem-to achieve self-respect, to feel that one is  worthwhile and successful. Finally, there is the need for self-actualization-for self-fulfilment and to achieve all that one is potentially capable of. These two growths need to drive the person to want recognition from others, development, challenge, and the freedom to be creative and innovative. According to Maslow, these needs are activated in a dynamic cycle of deprivation. If a lower level need is not met, the person is energized to remedy the deficiency and does not attend to higher level needs until it has been satisfied. Self-actualization is an attempt to self-actualize for satisfaction. In other words, we are looking for the possible solutions on how we can achieve our needs even if it's risky. (Doyle, 2002, pp.93-94).

v     The expectancy theory represents an attempt to explain workers' motivation in terms of anticipated rewards. The model assumes that people make rational decisions based on economic realities (Kreitner and Kinicki, 1998). Although slightly different versions of expectance theory have been proposed - including popular ones by Vroom and by Porter and Lawler - expectancy theorist agree that motivation is the result of three different types of beliefs that people have. They are as follows:

o       Expectance - the belief that one's effort will result in performance

o       Instrumentality - the belief that one's performance will be rewarded

o       Valence - the perceived value of the rewards to the recipient.

Expectancy Theory

            V. H. Vroom (1964) suggested that people consciously choose particular courses of action, based upon perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs, as a consequence of their desires to enhance pleasure and avoid pain. Porter and Lawler later developed Vroom's concept and came up with a theoretical model that suggests that the expenditure of effort by an individual can be determined by an individual's perceived value and expectations of the outcome (Pinder, 1984). This model is generally known as expectancy theory but is sometimes referred to as VIE theory, where the letters stand for valence, instrumentality, and expectancy, respectively (Mitchell and Mickel, 1999). Expectancy theory is classified as a process theory of motivation (Fudge and Schlacter, 1999) because it emphasizes individual perceptions of the environment and subsequent interactions arising as a consequence of personal expectations. Content theories on the other hand are motivation theories that focus on the internal attributes of the individual.

v     Basically, the leadership style of the managers should contribute greatly to the effective implementation of the motivation programs. Quantitative studies conducted in the past showed positive relationship between leadership behavior and job satisfaction (Euske et al, 1982; Savery, 1994).

Leadership and Motivation

            Successful leaders share four important insights and beliefs about the nature of their relationships with followers. A successful leader has a different view in the chain of command. He recognizes the importance of influencing the follower gently towards a desired goal (Miller, 1996). He does not force or pushed the followers to accomplish the goal of the organization (Maccoby, 1996). The leader needs to establish a relationship of mutual interest and draw the followers along a pathway that will satisfy both their goals (Kouzes and Posner, 1993). When the leader pushes or forces the follower to a certain goal, it can lead to undesirable results and frustration. In order to strengthen the chain of command, the leader needs to know his followers and find out what motivates them, and take part in their overall development (Miller, 1999). A successful leader endeavours to understand the needs, goals and personal motivations of each follower.  The leader faces and finds solutions to the challenge of satisfying the individual needs of the followers and fulfilling the goals of the organization or company. McConnell (1998) suggests that it will be advantageous both to the leader and followers if the leader spends time to get to know his followers better. This advice applies to leaders as well. Leaders need to pay attention to details regarding their followers. Effective leaders enter into meaningful discussions with followers to mutually establish training needs, work assignments, developmental pathways, valued outcomes for performance, and other issues of importance for the latter. The leader must display sensitivity, ingenuity, and judgement in marrying corporate and personal follower objectives throughout the process of communication. Special attention must be paid to those areas in which the follower lacks self-confidence or the capability (Daly and Kleiner, 1995) to achieve results. These constitute weak links in the chain and they must be strengthened through appropriate reinforcement and training. The successful leader also realizes that he cannot directly motivate his followers. His success lies in his ability to create favourable environment and conditions that will encourage the followers (McConnell, 1998). Perhaps, the most important consideration relates to the significance of organizational rewards from the follower's point of view. When a follower highly values a reward, the probability of triggering self-motivational processes grows considerably. An effective leader can differentiate between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards and knows how to use these rewards in order to motivate the followers more effectively. The leader should not only give rewards such as money, praise and recognition, he must also know how to make the followers feel fulfilled whenever a job gets done. Satisfaction results when the effort expended (Brown and Peterson, 1994) has proven personally worthwhile and fulfilling. In order to motivate the followers more, the leader should always keep them satisfied. For the person in search of leadership qualities, the fourth and final attitude relates to the importance of honesty (Earle, 1996) and consistency of behaviour displayed to followers (Daly and Kleiner, 1995). An effective leader values credibility and avoids inconsistency. The leaders needs to be honest, fair and must posses a credible code of conduct. Consistency makes the followers feel more secured and they trust their leader more. Inconsistency has a potential to breed discontent and distrust.