by Claudia Garcez, MHR Graduate Student
Claudia Garcez, Consultora de RH
Portugese Translation available here
are the challenges facing a transformed organization? What should companies
do to attract and retain "the right people"? The answer might just
be giving people what they want. As many studies have shown, satisfied
employees tend to be much more productive, creative and committed to
their employers. After all, high levels of absenteeism and an increased
turnover can profoundly affect a company's bottom line. Jensen (2000)
defines job satisfaction as: "a sense of personal growth most often
measured by the extent of new challenges and learning situations experienced"
(p. 1). Amazingly, only a few organizations have made job satisfaction
a top priority in their overall strategy. Perhaps they fail to
understand the significant link between job satisfaction and productivity.
Transformed organizations must create a positive workplace for their
workforce to increase satisfaction on the job (Syptak, Marshland and
Ulmer, 1999). This paper describes the challenges that a transformed
organization faces in order to keep their people satisfied as well as
discusses methods an organizational psychologist would suggest to increase
employee satisfaction. Further, it outlines different ways our learning
team motivates itself to be more productive. Finally, this paper will
focus on things that keep employees satisfied in the workplace.
transformed organizations face
the world, companies have helplessly watched their employees walk out
searching for better career opportunities. There is no question that
attracting the "right people" is a challenge for any organization.
An even more important challenge an organization faces is to retain
a productive workforce. Transformed organizations should constantly
take into consideration why they are losing their workforce. Despite
this crucial concern, many seem to struggle to find a solution for a
growing problem that desperately needs to be fixed.
overdue, companies are starting to discover that the departure of their
employees results from a "lack of challenge" on the job or that
the former employee "just needed something more". Exit interview
results deeply frustrate managers because they realize that they may
have been able to prevent their employees from leaving the company.
In his article, Jensen (2000) gives an example of a bright young scientist
who left a very successful biotechnology organization to work for a
much smaller company. Here are the scientist's words: "I don't
know what has happened, but I'm just not happy with the work I'm
doing. Over the past six or eight months something's gone wrong. I
really don't like the rut that I have fallen into" (p. 1).
results are also seen in a 1999 survey. In this survey, IT professionals
clearly reported that they felt undervalued by their employers, receive
little communication on how they can contribute to their companies and
feel overworked. Most IT professionals complained about the lack of
effective training opportunities. They also saw very limited opportunities
for advancement and that managers failed to satisfactorily discuss their
career development (Ouellette, 1999).
job satisfaction factors were ranked in a SHRM 2005 survey. The participants
had to identify and understand factors important to overall employee
satisfaction on the job (Clark, 2005). According to Clark (2005), "HR
literature shows that compensation is not the driving force behind employee
job satisfaction" (p. 1). However, the results show that employees
are changing their minds about what they value the most in the workplace.
Worker's responses ranked benefits, compensation, work/life balance,
job security, and a feeling of safety in the workplace as the top five
important job satisfaction factors (Clark, 2005).
an organizational psychologist would suggest to increase employee satisfaction
the above factors have become tremendously challenging for transformed
organizations. To better understand what keeps job satisfaction high,
we should recall Frederick Herzberg's theory from the 1950's. He
theorized that satisfaction on the job depends on two issues: hygiene
issues and motivators.
Company and administrative policies
According to Herzberg's theory,
"Hygiene issues cannot motivate employees but can minimize dissatisfaction,
if handled properly" (p. 1). These issues are directly related
to the employee's environment. On the contrary, motivators create satisfaction
by fulfilling individual's needs for meaning and personal growth (Syptak,
Marshland and Ulmer, 1999).
theory can be very helpful for organizational psychologists in advising
organizations on how to maintain employee satisfaction. In order to
promote satisfaction within one's job, Hygiene issues need to be addressed.
First, clear company administrative policies
should be developed. According to Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer (1999),
unclear or unnecessary organization policies can be a great source of
frustration for the company's employees. It can be even worse if the
polices are not required to be followed by everyone in the organization.
By addressing this issue, organizational psychologists can decrease
employee dissatisfaction by making sure the company's policies are
fair and apply equally to all. Another consideration is to make printed
copies of the company.s policies-and-procedures manual easily accessible
to all organizational members. Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer (1999) recommend
that organizations should have a written manual, soliciting staff input
along the way and consider updating it. In addition, it's wise to
compare the company's "policies to those of similar practices and
ask whether particular policies are unreasonably strict or whether some
penalties are too harsh" (Syptak et all., 1999).
challenging "hygiene" issue to be addressed is supervision. In his
book, Noe (2005) briefly describes a number of studies that "have
identified managerial behaviors that can cause an otherwise competent
manager to be a 'toxic' or ineffective manager" (p. 336). According
to Noe (2005), "these behaviors include insensitivity to others, inability
to be a team player, arrogance, poor conflict-management skills, inability
to meet business objectives, and inability to adapt during a change
transition" (p. 336). Organizational psychologists should advise their
clients to appoint the "right person" for a supervisory position.
Companies should view this role as critical for effective performance.
Such a position requires strong leadership and listening skills, including
the ability to treat all employees fairly. In addition, organizational
psychologists should advise their clients on how to teach their supervisors
to use positive feedback whenever possible and should establish a set
means of employee evaluation and feedback so that no one feels singled
out (Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer, 1999).
third "hygiene" issue that needs be addressed is salary. Employees
expect to be fairly paid for the work they've done. If this expectation
is not met, then employees will probably be dissatisfied with their
jobs, adversely affecting their productivity. Syptak, Marshland
and Ulmer (1999) recommend organizations to consult salary surveys or
local help-wanted ads as a way to identify whether the salaries and
benefits the company is offering are comparable to those of other offices
in the area or the industry. In addition, companies should make sure
they "have clear policies related to salaries, raises and bonuses"
(Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer, 1999).
significant "hygiene" issue is interpersonal relations. Organizational
psychologists should advise their clients to increase the organization's
social interaction. It is fundamental for employees to socialize during
their time on the job. Of course, such an interaction should occur in
a reasonable time without adversely affecting the company's productivity.
The company could have a specific and comfortable place where employees
can relax and spend time together. There should be special events held
after work hours, or "team" lunches provided by the organization.
This interaction can increase friendship and develop more teamwork.
At the same time, organizational psychologists should suggest that organizations
to crack down on rudeness, inappropriate behavior and offensive comments
(Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer, 1999).
last "hygiene" issue that should be addressed is working conditions.
It is important for the company's workforce to feel comfortable at
the place they work. Little things such as a nice desk or a clean work
area can make a difference in the employees' productivity. Syptak,
Marshland and Ulmer (1999) advise organizations to do everything they
can to keep the company's equipment and facilities up to date. In
their article, Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer (1999) also recommend companies
to "avoid overcrowding and allow each employee his or her own personal
space, whether it is a desk, a locker, or even just a drawer" (p.
the "hygiene" issues have been addressed, organizational psychologists
should work on the motivator factors. The first motivator factor to
be considered is the work itself. Companies should make sure that
their employees believe that "the work they are doing is important
and that their tasks are meaningful" (Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer,
1999). It is fundamental to emphasize to individuals that their
contributions significantly impact the company's results. Syptak,
Marshland and Ulmer (1999) suggest companies to make a big deal out
of meaningful tasks that may have become ordinary. Even though
employees may not find all their tasks interesting or rewarding, companies
should stress to their employees how those tasks are essential to the
overall processes (Syptak, Marshland and Ulmer, 1999).
motivator factor is achievement. According to Noe (2005), "goal-setting
theory suggests that learning can be facilitated by providing individuals
specific challenging goals and objectives" (p.111). It's important
that individuals are placed in positions that they are qualified for.
Based on this theory, organizational psychologists should advise their
clients to set clear and achievable goals to their employees. Employees
should know up front what is expected from them. Feedback should be
provided regularly so corrections can be made along the way.
the most important motivator factor is
recognition. Employees expect to be recognized for their time and effort.
Organizational psychologists should advise their clients to make job
recognition part of their cultures. One of the best ways to motivate
employees is through positive reinforcement. It is extremely important
for employees to feel they are doing a good job. Recognition is one
way to get employees to perform at their highest level. They are
willing to do whatever it takes to perform their best, as long as they
feel their work is appreciated. The ultimate purpose of recognizing
employee performance is not only to motivate them to be more productive
and feel satisfied with their jobs, but ultimately to retain their talent
and contribution to the success of the organization. Considering the
high cost of turnover, it would be logical that the retention of top
performers is the essential to the success of transformed organizations.
fourth motivator factor is responsibility. Transformed organizations
must empower their employees to make prompt decisions as well as solve
problems in a timely manner. Organizational psychologists should suggest
to their clients to give more responsibility to their employees. If
workers feel they have an ownership interest in their work, they will
probably be more motivated to perform at their best. Syptak, Marshland
and Ulmer (1999) recommend companies to be careful not to simply add
more work for their employees. "Instead, find ways to add challenging
and meaningful work, perhaps giving the employee greater freedom and
authority as well" (p. 1).
final motivator factor that should be considered is advancement. As
we know, if employees feel they are not advancing their career within
the company, they will look for better opportunities elsewhere. Organizational
psychologists should suggest to their clients to reward loyalty and
performance with "advancement". When companies do not have an available
position, they should consider giving an extra bonus or other type of
gratification to their employees. In addition, companies should communicate
to their workforce possible future positions that may interest them.
Another way to help employees advance their career is to support and
contribute to their education, which will make them more valuable to
ways we motivate ourselves and others within the learning team
we will focus on different ways our team motivates itself and others
within the learning team and on things that keep us satisfied at our
jobs. Our group is composed of four members. Each of us rated motivator
factors that we value the most within our group. Half of our team name
effective communication, accountability and recognition within the top
three most important motivator factors. Effective communication is important
to us as a group because we feel that it is an important element in
accomplishing tasks while we view accountability as the key for our
group to be successful. We also ranked recognition at the top of the
list. We believe that even a simple "thank you" makes a difference.
We expect our members to value each other's efforts and to produce
quality work in a timely fashion. A positive climate, working with a
diverse group, and interaction with new members were also valued by
our team members.
that we consider motivators in our places of employment
for things that motivate us in our jobs, we ranked interpersonal relations
and recognition as the top motivator factors with three out of four
group members citing these as top. We expect to get along with our bosses
and co-workers. We expect to have a team that looks outward when things
are running smoothly while management notices when things are getting
rough. Responsibility, empowerment, competitive salary and timely feedback
were also considered important motivator factors for our team members.
Other factors such as positive climate, benefits, challenging work,
flexible schedule, job security and opportunity for advancement were
also noted as valued motivators.
organizations face tremendous challenges in the need to attract and
retain a productive workforce. Organizations must create new ways to
keep their employees satisfied at all levels. Surveys should be conducted
as a way to find out what is causing workers to be dissatisfied and
action taken when the root is discovered. Companies must be willing
to do what is necessary to close possible satisfaction gaps. A powerful
tool for organizational psychologists to use in advising their clients
on ways to keep their employees satisfied is to consider following Frederick
Herzberg's theory. By following this theory, transformed organizations
will have the best opportunity to create and retain a motivated productive
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David W., Ulmer, Deborah (1999). Job Satisfaction:
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American Academy of Family Pratices: News and Publications.
Retrieved on Sept 6, 2005. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/fpm/991000fm/26.html
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