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Motivational Theory and Job Security

Essay by   •  July 29, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,281 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,758 Views

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I. Introduction

The erosion of job security, employee satisfaction and loyalty continues. Since the mid-1990s, corporate boards, senior management and stockholders have acceded to bottom line concerns by agreeing to outsource "non-core" services. In the last decade, two recessions have plagued America. The last one, triggered by greed in the sub-prime mortgage derivatives market, spilled over to trading partners in the rest of the economically-developed world. Though the white House drumbeaters proclaim the recession officially ended in 2009, the truth is this year looks to be the third in a row of sluggish economic fundamentals. April 2012 figures for factory orders amounted to the second straight month of depressing declines. The May employment report revealed that joblessness rose again (Miller & Chandra, 2012). Despite isolated bright spots - business-type air travel continues to be brisk and Apple Inc. sells iPhones and iPads as fast as they can make them - it seems clear that US industry will continue to downsize and "right-size" domestic payrolls.

Nor are these lessons confined to America alone. Across the ocean, lifetime employment induced fierce loyalty and dedication in the Japanese workforce. Hundreds of books written since the 1970s counted lifetime employment, alongside uncompromising product quality and patriotic desire for goods made in the "Home Islands" as among the explanations for the "Japanese miracle". After a painful decade of recession, lifetime employment is no more. And for the last four years, vaunted Toyota has had to recall millions of vehicles due to design and engineering defects.

II. Motivational Theory and Job Security

The irony is that the heritage of classical psychology and management theory, spearheaded by Abraham Maslow and Frederick Herzberg, put job security among the most fundamental predictors of employee satisfaction and motivation.

Figure 1: Two Humanistic Management Theories

We stress that job security is an elemental motivator because, in Maslow's hierarchy, the physiological or survival needs are fairly easily met. For most states around the nation, the legal minimum wage of at least $7 an hour is keyed to the poverty line and adjusted according to inflation in a typical basket of consumer goods. A young single worker can therefore get by and have enough to cover sustenance, cheap rent and utilities on minimum wage. But getting by is not enough to inspire loyalty, commitment, increased productivity and aspirations for promotion. Here is where safety and job security become operative, Maslow (1954) contended, before belongingness, esteem and self-actualization can motivate employees. No amount of cost-free public recognition in company ceremonies, for instance, can possibly enhance commitment when the company has just announced another sizeable lay-off. The case of Detroit's Big Three car assemblers from 2007 to 2009 is a case in point.

Herzberg's two-factor theory makes it even more explicit. Job security is one of the necessary components for fending off employee dissatisfaction. High frustration, low commitment and pronounced voluntary turnover are the inevitable consequences of poor management undertakings for job security.

III. The Harm Done to Job Security and Job Satisfaction

Two signal accomplishments have marked HR and organizational behavior best practice in the last four decades. First came official recognition of occupational health and safety issues in 1969. In the 1990s came widespread recognition of the necessity for letting employees have a desirable work-life balance.

Nonetheless, employees are distinctly polarized. Right when the worst of the latest recession was thought to be over, the Conference Board revealed in late 2009 that US worker satisfaction had plunged to its lowest level in two decades; just 45% were satisfied in their jobs.

In light of the current recession, the data is not surprising. Many workers have witnessed layoffs, taken pay cuts or freezes and still worry about their own job security. To make things worse, the shrinking workforce has resulted in more work for the employees who remain. It's no wonder then that employees could use a little extra attention. As the effects of the recession linger, employers should

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