What motivates employees

Gaining the knowledge of what motivates employees and how they were motivated was the focus of many researchers following the publication of the Hawthorne Study results (Terpstra, 1979). The literature review on this research intends to discover the current theories and issues in relations to work motivation throughout the literature sources. It is important to understand what motivation actually is, and more specially the term ‘work motivation’.

The literature review will look at four major motivational theories. They are:- Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory, Herzberg’s two- factor theory, Adams’ equity theory and Vroom’s expectancy theory.

They are Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory, and Herzberg’s two- factor theory are needs based motivational theory, commonly known as content theories. These theories explain that human needs change with time. People have certain needs and desires to achieve and those needs and desires change over a period of time. Adams’ equity theory and Vroom’s expectancy theory are collectively known as cognitive theories. These theories will examine the employee’s behaviour in terms of performance and compare their performance and rewards with others.

According to Maslow, employee’s needs have five levels (Maslow, 1943). It is based on the hypothesis that human needs are capable of being exhaustible. Satisfactory achievement of the first level of needs leads to the next level. Once a particular need has been satisfied, that need will no longer be a driving force of motivation.

Herzberg’s considered motivation into two factors: motivators and hygiene (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). According to this theory people are influenced by two factors. These factors are “Motivators and hygiene”. Achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth were included in the motivation factors and dissatisfying factors largely from non-job related factors such as company policies, salary, co-worker relations and supervisory styles (Steers and Porter 2001). These theories will help to understand the various factors which influence the employees of the organisation.

Adams equity theory focuses on people’s reactions to the fairness of outcome they receive in relations to their perception of the inputs they provide, especially when compared to the perceived outcomes/inputs that others receive. (Porter et al., 2001). According to Adams theory equity is achieved when the ratio of employee outcomes over inputs is equal to other employee outcomes over inputs (Adams, 1965). This theory will provide more understanding towards motivational difference between permanent and temporary staff of the organisation.

Vroom’s theory supports that employee effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964). The rewards can be either positive or negative, but the more positive reward will lead the employee to work more motivated and conversely, the more negative the reward the less likely the employee will be motivated.

In M&S money call centre (M&S), permanent and temporary staffs are performing the same duties, expected to meet the same target and trained to perfume the duties in the same way, reword system is different in terms of bonus, pension, company discount card and other non monetary rewards.

By taking this into consideration and applying the selected four theories in this environment. Both groups employees must show a difference in motivation in line with Adams equity theory and also will be on different stages in relations to Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory. The research will also explain what they expect as a permanent / temporary employee working for M&S in line with Vroom’s expectancy theory. Two factor theory will explain how much influence each motivation factor have on all the employees.


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After the literature review and background study of the call centre environment, a positivist approach has been adapted to the research. Even though, motivation is considered as a subjective factor, the background study of the call centre environment is compared and addressed similar to battery- farming condition (Arkin 1997) with characteristic of tailorism. The most important reason for selecting positivist approach is, that this research is testing the four theories of motivation mentioned in literature review in call centre in permanent and temporary employees, which falls in line with Myers, M.D (2002) argument that positivist generally attempt to test theory.

The research method used to collect primary data is a semi structured questionnaire with open and closed questions. Secondary data will be gathered from organisation through human resource department on recruitment statistics and also from survey results previously conducted by the organisation.

The questionnaire includes open and closed questions, both categorical and quantifiable. All the questions are statistically analysed by using codes and excel spreadsheet and will be presentable through bar charts/pie charts.

The positivist approach of testing theory and using quantifiable data collecting methods falls into the deductive approach which falls in line with positivism (Saunders et al. 2007)

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