People in Business

Developing and Retaining an Effective Workforce: Motivating Employees, Schools of Thought

Developing and Retaining an Effective Workforce: Motivating Employees, Schools of Thought

Over the past century, a number of schools of thought surrounding management styles have been developed. Below are the most popular.

Classical management

Business Studies A Level - Management Schools of ThoughtDeveloped by Henri Fayol, there were four main factors considered important for effective management:

– the division of labour
– a tall organisational structure
– a wide span of control
– use of an authoritarian management style

Scientific management

This style was developed by Frederick Taylor in the USA in the early 1900s. Taking much from Fayol’s ideas, Taylor agreed that a high division of labour was important. He developed the piece-rate payment method which meant that a worker would receive a certain amount of money per piece as opposed to a general amount. This meant that their pay was directly linked to their productivity.

Taylor worked closely with Henry Ford and together they invented the first moving production-line in the world for the ‘T’ model Ford car. For this management method, attention was given to ‘time and motion’: each worker was timed to see how long it took them to perform a task. This could then be used to calculate their output per day. If, by the end of the day, they’d managed to perform more tasks than expected, they’d receive a cash bonus.

Taylor believed that the two attributes required to be both a good manager and a good worker were discipline and efficiency. However, he didn’t take into consideration that his systems failed to motivate the workforce and, instead, left them feeling alienated.

Human Relations Management

Business Studies A Level - Human Relations ManagementThis is where Human Relations management holds its own. It believes that the best way to manage a workforce is through the praise and recognition of effort and hard work. Workers should also be consulted on any decision that will affect them, meaning that a leader should be democratic and not autocratic.

Elton Mayo worked at the Western Electric Company at Hawthorne in Chicago from 1927 to 1932. During that time he carried out a study on a group of six female workers in an attempt to link their productivity to their working conditions. He found that in order to achieve the highest levels of productivity teamwork and good social interactions were the most important factors. He coined this the ‘Hawthorne Effect’.

Neo-Human Relations Management

A number of management theorists have built up from Mayo’s work, also recognising that how employees are treated has a major effect on their productivity. Three of the main writers within this field are Frederick Herzberg, Abraham Maslow, and Douglas McGregor.

It’s important for a business first to address the basic requirements of continued existence of its employees. In other words, their physiological needs. It’s not possible to progress on to their higher level needs until these have been addressed.

Once these are satisfied, further employee motivation is only possible by providing them with ways in which their can use their skills and initiative.

A lot of people reach the next two categories: safety/security needs and social/love needs. Some even reach the ego/esteem needs level. However, hardly any reach the self-fulfilment stage and those that do tend not to remain there for very long. This is why the shape of the diagram is a triangle, representing more people at the bottom and less at the top.

If this theory is applied to employees then:

Business Studies A Level - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs– Physiological needs amounts to pay and working conditions
– Safety needs include health and safety and pension schemes
– Social needs are composed of teamwork
– Ego needs account for a company car and a job title
– Self-fulfilment needs will depend on whether the individual has reached their full potential or not

Frederick Herzberg was interested in finding out what was involved in motivating workers. Herzberg’s most well-known theory was the ‘Two-Factor Theory’. In his theory he highlighted the difference between factors that give employees satisfaction (motivators) and factors which, although they didn’t provide satisfaction, without them would lead to dissatisfaction (hygiene/maintenance).

Herzberg’s studied consisted of 200 engineers and accountants in Pittsburgh. He questioned them about events at their workplaces and what had improved or reduced their job satisfaction.

The following table gives an idea of what he discovered.

Motivators Hygiene/maintenance factors
  • Sense of achievement
  • Delegation of responsibility
  • Being able to use their initiative and creativity
  • Being involved in decision-making
  • Pay
  • Working conditions
  • Supervision
  • Company policies
  • Bureaucracy
  • Interpersonal relations

Herzberg’s main conclusion was that it’s important to give employees motivational stimulus but also important to make sure that hygiene/maintenance factors are kept to a minimum.

Douglas McGegor developed two management styles: Theory X and Theory Y.

A Theory X manager is very authoritarian. Such a manager has a bad opinion of their workforce, believing that they require a heavy hand otherwise they won’t work properly and that they care only for job security.

A Theory Y manager believes that their workforce desires praise and acknowledgement for good work, that they crave responsibility, and that they want the chance to use their initiative.

Contingency management

Developed in the 1960s, this school of thought believes that there’s no one size fits all when it come to management. Some situations, businesses or employees require a more authoritarian approach whereas others require a different method.

Link to motivation

Business Studies A Level - MotivationClearly, the motivation level and job satisfaction of a workforce depends heavily on management and leadership styles. Nowadays the most popular school of thought is that of Human Relations as opposed to those of Fayol’s and Taylor’s ideas.

However, most of the time in business the style used will depend on the situation and the people involved. Management styles and motivation levels continue to be a much debated topic.

For most businesses making sure their workforce is motivated is very important. It can:

– Improve productivity
– Improve quality output
– Decrease absenteeism
– Decrease labour turnover rate

There are a number of major factors that can affect motivation include:

– Pay levels
– Job security
– Prospects of promotion
– Delegation of responsibilities
– Working conditions
– Fringe benefits
– Involvement in decision-making
– Team work