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Employee Motivation, Today’s Workforce, and Labor Relations


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Employee Motivation, Today’s Workforce, and Labor Relations

Understanding Human Relations

Needs of Management

Needs of Employees

In organizations, the goal of human relations—interactions among people within the organization—is to balance the diverse needs of employees with those of management. For instance, employers must motivate employees and keep them satisfied. But they must also remain competitive in the marketplace to ensure the organization’s long-term success. Of course, achieving this balance becomes increasingly difficult as companies face many staffing and demographic challenges. In this chapter we’ll explore these challenges.

What is Motivation?

Corporate Culture

Behavior Modification

Motivation is an inner force that moves individuals to take action. Some companies motivate their employees by providing a culture that makes it enjoyable to come to work. Others try to motivate employees by controlling or changing their actions through behavior modification.

Positive reinforcement offers pleasant consequences (such as a gift, praise, certificate, medal, dinner, or trip) for completing or repeating a desired action. Experts recommend the use of positive reinforcement because it emphasizes the desired behavior rather than the unwanted behavior. By contrast, negative reinforcement allows people to avoid unpleasant consequences by behaving in the desired way. For example, fear of losing a job (unpleasant consequences) may move an employee to finish a project on time (desired behavior). Such negative motivation, however, is much less effective than encouraging an individual’s own sense of direction, creativity, and pride in doing a good job.

Management by Objectives (MBO)

Setting Goals

Planning Action

Implementing Plans

Reviewing Performance

Another proven motivation technique used by many organizations is management by objectives (MBO), a company-wide process that empowers employees and involves them in goal setting and decision making. This process consists of four steps: setting goals, planning actions, implementing plans, and reviewing performance. Because employees at all levels are involved in all four steps, they learn more about company objectives and feel that they are an important part of the company-wide team. Furthermore, they understand how even their small job function contributes to the organization’s long-term success.

Frederick W. Taylor - Scientific Management

Monetary Rewards

Personal Productivity

Motivation has been a topic of interest to managers for more than a hundred years. Frederick W. Taylor was a machinist and engineer from Philadelphia who became interested in employee efficiency and motivation late in the nineteenth century. Taylor developed scientific management, an approach that sought to improve employee efficiency through the scientific study of work. In Taylor’s view, people were motivated almost exclusively by money, so he set up pay systems that rewarded employees when they were productive.

Although money has always been a powerful motivator, scientific management fails to take into account other motivational elements, such as opportunities for personal satisfaction or individual initiative.

In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed the theory that behavior is determined by a variety of needs. He organized these needs into five categories and then arranged the categories in a hierarchy.

The most basic needs are at the bottom of this hierarchy, and the more advanced needs are toward the top. In Maslow’s hierarchy, all of the requirements for basic survival-food, clothing, shelter, and the like-fall into the category of physiological needs. These basic needs must be satisfied before the person can consider higher-level needs such as safety needs, social needs (the need to give and receive love and to feel a sense of belonging), and esteem needs (the need for a sense of self-worth and integrity). At the top of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization—the need to become everything one can become.

Although Maslow’s hierarchy is a convenient way to classify human needs, it would be a mistake to view it as a rigid sequence.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Hygiene Factors:

Working conditions

Pay and security

Company policies


Interpersonal relations

Motivational Factors:




Work itself

Personal growth

Frederick Herzberg asked workers to describe situations in which they felt either good or bad about their jobs. His findings are called motivation-hygiene theory.

What Herzberg called hygiene factors are associated with dissatisfying experiences. The potential sources of dissatisfaction include working conditions, company policies, and job security. Management can lessen worker dissatisfaction by improving hygiene factors that concern employees, but such improvements seldom influence satisfaction. On the other hand, managers can help employees feel more motivated and, ultimately, more satisfied by paying attention to motivators such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, and other personally rewarding factors.

Herzberg’s theory is related to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: The motivators closely resemble the higher-level needs, and the hygiene factors resemble the lower-level needs.

McGregor’s Assumptions

Theory X Employees


Lack ambition

Dislike work

Avoid responsibility

Motivated by extrinsic rewards

Theory Y Employees

Goal seeking


Like work

Accept responsibility

Motivated by intrinsic rewards

In the 1960s, psychologist Douglas McGregor identified two radically different sets of assumptions that underlie most management thinking. He classified these sets of assumptions as Theory X and Theory Y.

According to McGregor, Theory X-oriented managers believe that employees dislike work and can be motivated only by the fear of losing their jobs or by extrinsic rewards such as money, promotions, and tenure. This management style emphasizes physiological and safety needs and tends to ignore the higher-level needs.In contrast, Theory Y-oriented managers believe that employees like work and can be motivated by working for goals that promote creativity or for causes they believe in. Thus, Theory Y-oriented managers seek to motivate employees through intrinsic rewards.

The assumptions behind Theory X emphasize authority; the assumptions behind Theory Y emphasize growth and self-direction.

Ouchi’s Theory Z

Employee Involvement

Family Environment

Ouchi’s Theory Z assumes that employees are more motivated if you involve them in all aspects of company decision making and treat them like family. Managers who adopt these practices believe that employees with a sense of identity and belonging are more likely to perform their jobs conscientiously and will try more enthusiastically to achieve company goals. Embraced in one form or another by most Fortune 500 companies, Theory Z is the core of such practices as self-directed work teams, quality circles, and other forms of participative management that make employees more responsible for the outcome of their efforts.

Keeping Pace With Today’s Work Force

Demographic Challenges

Staffing Challenges

Alternative Work Arrangements

When trying to apply motivational techniques, managers must keep in mind that today’s workforce comprises people with a wide variety of needs. They must recognize that employees come from a diversity of backgrounds and have interests and obligations outside of work, such as family, volunteer activities, and hobbies. Addressing employees’ many needs becomes even more critical in a work environment plagued with a number of demographic and staffing challenges.

Demographic Challenges

Workforce Diversity


Aging Population

Diversity Initiatives

Gender Issues

The Glass Ceiling


Sexual Harassment

One of the most significant demographic trends facing companies today is increasing workforce diversity. Two trends contributing to the diversity of the U.S. workforce are the influx of immigrants and the aging population.

To cope with increasing workforce diversity, many companies offer employees sensitivity or awareness training to help them understand the various attitudes and beliefs that minorities and immigrants bring to their jobs.

Another demographic challenge is the gender gap in compensation. Women today earn about 76 percent of men’s median pay. The glass ceiling is an invisible barrier that keeps women and minorities from reaching the highest-level positions. In recent years, women have made significant strides toward overcoming sexism or job discrimination on the basis of gender, or sexism, thanks to a combination of changing societal attitudes and company commitments to workplace diversity.

Another sensitive issue that women often face in the workplace is sexual harassment. As defined by the EEOC, sexual harassment takes two forms: the obvious request for sexual favors with an implicit reward or punishment related to work, and the more subtle creation of a sexist environment in which employees are made to feel uncomfortable by off-color jokes, lewd remarks, and posturing.

Staffing Challenges

Skilled-Labor Shortage

Rightsizing the Workforce

Quality of Work and Life

If you ask business leaders what their biggest challenges are today, you will most likely get these answers: finding, attracting, and keeping talented people; rightsizing their workforces; and satisfying employees’ desire for a work-life balance.

Skilled-Labor Shortage

Revised Pay Systems

Career Development Programs

Educational Programs

Many of today’s growing occupations require specialized skills or training, whereas the shrinking occupations involve activities that require fewer skills or ones that are increasingly being automated. In fact, nearly all jobs today require computer literacy. But finding technology-literate employees is a difficult for most companies today.

Some companies are revamping rigid pay systems to make it easier for employees to move laterally and enhance their skills. Others are installing new career-development programs to help employees plan their career moves. Still others are instituting educational programs to attract and keep skilled employees.

Rightsizing the Work Force

In spite of the skilled labor shortage, many companies are laying off employees or downsizing for a number of reasons: weak revenues and profits, company reorganizations, elimination of unprofitable product lines, outsourcing, mergers and acquisitions, and a general mismatch between employee job skills and job demands. In short, companies are trying to rightsize, or realign their workforces to match their current needs.

As you can imagine, rightsizing is a contributing factor to declining employee loyalty. Rightsizing is also putting pressure on remaining employees to work longer hours. Such long hours can lead to employee burnout, which is characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lower levels of achievement. Other sources of employee burnout are job insecurity, technological advancements, and information overload.

Job insecurity. Workers anxious about job security feel they have to give 150 percent (or more) or risk being seen as expendable.

Technological advancements. New technology allows employees to work from home, but being wired to the office 24 hours a day can add extra pressure.

Information overload. Managers claim they’re unable to handle the vast amounts of information they now receive.

The Committed Employee: Then and Now

Employee loyalty is not what it used to be. A recent survey confirms that even today’s most valuable, committed workers often put career development, life, and family issues before company goals. The table above illustrates this shift in workforce commitment.

Quality of Work Life

Job Enrichment

Reduces Specialization

Expands Responsibilities

Job Redesign

Restructures Work

Coordinates Skills and Jobs

A recent survey by found that 42 percent of all job seekers identified work-life issues as the most important consideration in their choice of a new job. To help employees balance the demands of work and family, businesses are offering child-care assistance, family leave, flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and other solutions. Many companies are also focusing on improving the quality of work life (QWL), the environment created by work and job conditions.

Two common ways of improving QWL are through job enrichment, which reduces specialization and makes work more meaningful by expanding each job’s responsibilities, and job redesign, which restructures work to provide a better fit between employees’ skills and their jobs.

Alternative Work Arrangements



Job Sharing

To meet today’s staffing and demographic challenges, many companies are adopting alternative work arrangements. Three of the most popular arrangements are flextime, telecommuting, and job sharing.

An increasingly important alternative work arrangement, flextime is a scheduling system that allows employees to choose their own hours within certain limits. Related to flexible schedules is telecommuting—working from home or another location using computers and telecommunications equipment to stay in touch with the employer’s offices. Job sharing, which lets two employees share a single full-time job and split the salary and benefits, has been slowly gaining acceptance as a way to work part-time in a full-time position.

Working With Labor Unions

Wages and Benefits

Working Conditions

Job Security

Many employees join labor unions, organizations that seek to protect employee interests by negotiating with employers for better wages and benefits, improved working conditions, and increased job security. Historically, labor unions have played an important role in U.S. employee-management relations, and are largely responsible for the establishment of worker’s compensation, child-labor laws, overtime rules, minimum-wage laws, severance pay, and more.

Key Union Legislation

Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932

Wagner Act of 1935

Taft-Hartley Act of 1947

Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959

Plant-Closing Notification Act of 1988

Most major labor legislation was enacted in the 1930s and 1940s. Subsequent legislation amends and clarifies earlier laws.

How Unions Are Structured

Many unions are organized at local, national, and international levels. Locals, or local unions, represent employees in a specific geographic area or facility. Each local union is a hierarchy with a broad base of rank-and-file members, the employees the union represents. These members pay an initiation fee, pay regular dues, and vote to elect union officials. Each department or facility also has or elects a shop steward, who works in the facility as a regular employee and serves as a go-between with supervisors when a problem arises. In large locals and in locals that represent employees at several locations, an elected full-time business agent visits the various work sites to negotiate with management and enforce the union's agreements with those companies.

By comparison, a national union is a nationwide organization composed of many local unions that represent employees in specific locations; examples are the United Auto Workers (UAW) of America and the United Steelworkers of America. International unions have members in more than one country, such as the Union of Needle trades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE).  A national union is responsible for such activities as organizing new areas or industries, negotiating industry-wide contracts, assisting locals with negotiations, administering benefits, lobbying Congress, and lending assistance in the event of a strike. Local unions send representatives to the national delegate convention, submit negotiated contracts to the national union for approval, and provide financial support in the form of dues. They have the power to negotiate with individual companies or plants and to undertake their own membership activities.

How Unions Organize

Union organizers, whether professional or rank-and-file, generally start by visiting with employees, although dissatisfied employees may also approach the union. The organizers survey employees by asking questions such as 'Have you ever been treated unfairly by your supervisor?' Employees who express interest are sent information about the union along with authorization cards—sign-up cards used to designate the union as their bargaining agent. If 30 percent or more of the employees in the group sign the union's authorization cards, the union may ask management to recognize it. Usually, however, unions do not seek to become the group's bargaining agent unless a majority of the employees sign.

Often the company's management is unwilling to recognize the union at this stage. The union can then ask the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent Federal agency created in 1935 to administer and enforce the National Labor Relations Act, to supervise a certification election, the process by which a union becomes the official bargaining agent for a company's employees. If a majority of the affected employees choose to make the union their bargaining agent, the union becomes certified. If not, that union and all other unions have to wait a year before trying again.

Collective Bargaining Process

Preparing to Meet


Reaching an Agreement

Voting and Ratification

In a process known as collective bargaining, union and management negotiators work together to forge the human resources policies that will apply to the unionized employees--and other employees covered by the contract--for a certain period, usually three years.

Preparing to meet. The union negotiating team determines the needs of union members. Management tries to anticipate the union’s demands and decide on what it is willing to offer.

Meeting. Both sides present their demands, and bargaining follows. The union may call for a strike vote to demonstrate to management the solidarity of union members.

Reaching an agreement. If bargaining is successful and a tentative agreement is reached, the agreement goes out to union members for ratification by vote.

Voting and ratification. If union members approve of the agreement, it is ratified and can be signed by union and company representatives. If not, negotiators return to the bargaining table.

Resolving an Impasse



If negotiations reach an impasse, outside help may be needed. The most common alternative is mediation—bringing in an impartial third party to study the situation and make recommendations for resolution of the differences. Mediators are generally well-respected community leaders whom both sides will listen to. However, mediators can only offer suggestions, and their solutions are not binding. When a legally binding settlement is needed, the negotiators may submit to arbitration—a process in which an impartial referee listens to both sides and then makes a judgment by accepting one side’s view. In compulsory arbitration, the parties are required by a government agency to submit to arbitration; in voluntary arbitration, the parties agree on their own to use arbitration to settle their differences.

When Negotiations Break Down









Sometimes negotiations reach an impasse, and neither side is willing to compromise. Labor has several options:

The strike is a temporary work stoppage aimed at forcing management to accept union demands. An essential part of any strike is picketing, in which union members positioned at entrances to company premises march back and forth with signs and leaflets, trying to persuade non-striking employees to join them and to persuade customers and others to stop doing business with the company.

A less direct union weapon is the boycott, in which union members and sympathizers refuse to buy or handle the product of a target company. Increasingly, labor is pressing its case by launching publicity campaigns, often called corporate campaigns, against the target company and companies affiliated with it.

Management can use a number of legal methods to pressure unions when negotiations stall. When union members walk off their jobs, management can legally replace them with strikebreakers, nonunion workers hired to do the jobs of striking workers. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of lockouts, in which management prevents union employees from entering the workplace, in order to pressure the union to accept a contract proposal. An injunction is a court order prohibiting union workers from taking certain actions.

Union Membership Today

Unions remain a significant force in employee-management relations in the United States. But their membership continues to decline. Unions now represent only 13.5 percent (16.3 million) of workers in the United States (down from 20 percent in 1983 and 35 percent in the 1950s).

Declining Union Membership

Decline in Manufacturing

Rise in Service Industries

Changes in the Workforce

Flat Organization Structures

One key reason for the decrease in union membership is the shift from a manufacturing-based economy to one dominated by service industries, which tend to appeal less to unions. Another factor contributing to the decline is the changing nature of the labor force. Women, young workers, and highly skilled workers have been harder to organize with traditional methods, as have workers in less hierarchical organizations.

The Labor Movement Today

Traditional Causes


Working Conditions


New Causes

Health Care

Child Care

Job Training

Dynamic labor leaders have recognized that their own inertia is partly to blame for the unions’ decline, and they are taking corrective measures. Even though unions are sticking to their traditional causes—good wages, safe conditions, and benefits—progressive labor leaders are pursuing new workplace issues such as job security, increasing health care costs, labor involvement in management decisions, child care, and more job training.


Arbitration - process for resolving a labor­ contract dispute in which an impartial third party studies the issues and makes a binding decision

Authorization cards - sign-up cards designating a union as the signer's preferred bargaining agent

Behavior modification - systematic use of rewards and punishments to change human behavior

Boycott - union activity in which members and sympathizers refuse to buy or handle the product of a target company

Business agent - full-time union staffer who negotiates with management and enforces the union's agreements with companies

Certification - process by which a union is officially recognized by the National labor Relations Board as the bargaining agent for a group of employees

Decertification - process employees use to take away a union's official right to represent them

Flextime - scheduling system in which employees are allowed certain options regarding time of arrival and departure

Glass ceiling - invisible barrier attributable to subtle discrimination that keeps women out of the top positions in business

Human relations - interaction among people within an organization for the purpose of achieving organizational and personal goals

Hygiene factors - aspects of the work environment that are associated with dissatisfaction

Injunction - court order prohibiting certain actions by striking workers

Job enrichment - reducing work specialization and making work more meaningful by adding to the responsibilities of each job

Job redesign - designing a better fit between employees' skills and their work to increase job satisfaction

Job sharing - splitting a single full-time job between two employees for their convenience

Labor federation - umbrella organization of national unions and unaffiliated local unions that undertakes large-scale activities on behalf of their members and that resolves conflicts between unions

Labor unions - organizations of employees formed to protect and advance their members' interests

Locals - relatively small union groups, usually part of a national union or a labor federation, that represent members who work in a single facility or in a certain geographic area

Lockouts - management tactics in which union members are prevented from entering a business during a strike in order to force union acceptance of management's last contract proposal

Management by objectives (MBO) - a motivational tool whereby managers and employees work together to structure personal goals and objectives for every individual, department, and project to mesh with the organization's goals

Mediation - process for resolving a labor­ contract dispute in which a neutral third party meets with both sides and attempts to steer them toward a solution

Morale -  attitude an individual has toward his or her job and employer

Motivation - force that moves someone to take action

Motivators - factors of human relations in business that may increase motivation

National union – nationwide organization made up of local unions that represent employees in locations around the country

Picketing - strike activity in which union members march before company entrances to persuade nonstriking employees to walk off the job and to persuade customers and others to cease doing business with the company

Quality of work life (QWL) - overall environment that results from job and work conditions

Scientific management - management approach designed to improve employees' efficiency by scientifically studying their work

Sexism - discrimination on the basis of gender

Sexual harassment - unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature within the workplace

Shop steward - union member and employee who is elected to represent other union members and who attempts to resolve employee grievances with management

Strike - temporary work stoppage by employees who want management to accept their union's demands

Strikebreakers - nonunion workers hired to replace striking workers

Telecommuting - working from home and communicating with the company's main office via computer and communication devices

Theory X - managerial assumption that employees are irresponsible, unambitious, and distasteful of work and that managers must use force, control, or threats to motivate them

Theory Y - managerial assumption that employees like work, are naturally committed to certain goals, are capable of creativity, and seek out responsibility under the right conditions

Theory Z - human relations approach that emphasizes involving employees at all levels and treating them like family

Politica de confidentialitate



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