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Chapter Review

Key Terms

Below is a list of some of the key terms you have learned about in this chapter.

Autonomy Gainsharing Piece-rate pay plans
Board representatives Job characteristics model Profit-sharing plans
Bonus Job enlargement Quality circles
Core-plus options Job enrichment Representative participation
Employee involvement Job rotation Skill variety
Employee recognition programs Job sharing Skill-based pay
Employee stock ownership plans Merit-based pay plans Task identify
Feedback Modular plans Task significance
Flexible benefits Motivating potential score Teleworking
Flexible spending accounts Opportunity to perform Variable-pay programs
Flexitime Participative management Work councils

The job characteristics model or JCM suggests that any job can be described in terms of five core job dimensions: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback are motivating job characteristics. From a motivational standpoint, the JCM says that internal rewards are obtained by individuals when they learn that they personally have performed well on a task that they care about. The core dimensions can be combined into a single predictive index, called the motivating potential score (MPS). If jobs score high on motivating potential, the model predicts that motivation, performance, and satisfaction will be positively affected and that the likelihood of absence and turnover will be lessened.

If employees suffer from overroutinisation of their work, managers may consider job rotation, job enlargement, or job enrichment. Job rotation (or cross-training) is the periodic shifting of an employee from one task to another. Job rotation reduces boredom and increases motivation through diversifying the employee’s activities. It also has indirect benefits for the organization because employees with a wider range of skills give management more flexibility in scheduling work, adapting to changes, and filling vacancies. Among the drawbacks of job rotation are increased training costs and potential decreases in productivity.

Job enlargement is the horizontal expansion of a job. It increases the number and variety of tasks that an individual performs results in a job with more diversity.

Job enrichment is the vertical expansion of a job, increasing the degree to which the worker controls the planning, execution, and evaluation of his or her work. An enriched job organizes tasks so that the worker completes an activity, increases the employee’s freedom and independence, increases responsibility, and provides feedback so that an individual will be able to assess and correct his or her own performance. Jobs may be enriched by combining tasks, forming natural work units, establishing client relationships, expanding jobs vertically, and opening feedback channels.

Three alternative work arrangements, flexitime, job sharing, and teleworking, alter work arrangements to increase motivation. Flexitime, or flexible work hours, allows employees some discretion over their start and stop times, while requiring a specific number of hours per week. Job sharing allows two or more individuals to split a traditional 40-hour-a-week job. Finally, teleworking, allows employees to do work at home through a computer linked to their office.

Employee involvement programs are a way to increase workers’ control and autonomy to improve their motivation, organizational commitment, productivity, and job satisfaction. Examples of involvement programs include participative management, representative participation, and quality circles. Participative management programs use joint decision making as a strategy to improve employee performance. Representative participation programs, widely required by law in Western Europe, provide for worker representation in company decision making. The two most common implementations of representative participation are work councils and board representatives. Quality circles, another form of employee involvement, are work groups of eight to ten employees and supervisors who have a shared area of responsibility. They meet regularly to discuss their quality problems, investigate causes of the problems, recommend solutions, and take corrective actions.

In determining pay structures, companies must make some strategic decisions. The process of initially setting pay levels entails balancing internal and external equity. Some organizations prefer to be pay leaders, paying well above the market, while others pay considerably less. Piece-rate plans, merit based pay, bonuses, skill-based pay, profit sharing, gainsharing, and employee share ownership plans are all forms of variable-pay programs. Instead of paying a person only for seniority, a variable pay program bases a portion of the employee’s pay on some individual or organizational measure of performance.

Flexible benefits allow employees to choose benefits that best meet their needs. They can be uniquely tailored to reflect difference in employee needs based on age, marital status, spouses’ benefit status, number and age of dependents. The three most popular types of flexible benefit plans are modular plans, core-plus options, and flexible spending accounts. Modular plans are predesigned packages of benefits, with each module put together to meet the needs of a specific group of employees. Core-plus options consist of a core of essential benefits and a menu-like selection of other benefit options from which employees can select and ad to the core. Flexible spending plans allow employees to set aside up to the dollar amount offered in the plan to pay for particular services. Today, almost all major corporations in the United States offer flexible benefits.

Employee recognition programs range from private letters of thanks to publicized formal programs where specific types of behaviour are encouraged and the procedures for attaining recognition are clearly identified. A recent survey of employees in a variety of work settings found that recognition was considered to be the most powerful workplace motivator. An obvious advantage of workplace recognition programs is that they are inexpensive. Critics argue that they are highly susceptible to political manipulation by management. In jobs with objective measurement criteria, such as sales, recognition programs are perceived as fair. However, in jobs where the criteria for good performance is clear, there is greater potential for managerial manipulation and abuse.

Across all countries, extrinsic job characteristics (pay, working conditions) were consistently and positively related to satisfaction with one’s job. Richer countries, countries with stronger social security, countries that stressed individualism rather than collectivism, and countries with a smaller power distance showed a stronger relationship between the presence of intrinsic job characteristics (recognition, interesting job) and job satisfaction.

In conclusion, managers should consider the following recommendations concerning motivation: