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Employee Relation and Motivation
Employee Relation and Motivation
Chapter 4 Employee Relations and Motivation
Chapter Overview
This chapter broadly addresses the topic of employee relations and work motivation. It examined theories and
models of motivation that strive to answer the question of what motivates and how is motivation harnessed. At
the individual level of analysis, there is a plethora of different approaches, most of which have some conceptual
viability, empirical support and practical use. A critical task for future thinking and research is to integrate
findings from diverse sources in order to be able to produce a more coherent view of motivation, its content
and mechanisms. Contemporary research aspires to a more integrated perspective, but progress is slow due to
difficulties forming conceptual links and a difficulty comparing studies (due to non-comparability of constructs
and measurement). Some argue that motivation denotes, and is, perhaps, best treated as an umbrella term
pertaining to a set of motivational issues rather than striving to pin it down as a precisely defined and
measurable construct.
The psychology of group, team and leadership processes is also examined. It is frustrating to find yet more
theories and models within distinctive domains of investigation and a general lack of cross-fertilization. Thus,
whilst leadership processes are without doubt, inextricably linked with group and team processes, there is little
communication across these domains of research. The ‘leader’ is extracted from the group or team context in
which they do their leading, and thus is thus effectively investigated in a vacuum. Yet leadership is a two-way
process, influenced as much by followers as leaders. The psychological contract literature holds some promise
for integrating considerations of leadership with those of the motivated employee more generally. The leader
may ‘represent’ the organization in the process of exchanging reward for effort and as such, may hold the key to
understanding motivational processes. The literature on group processes is also distinct from the literature on
teams and even the team building literature stands alone, as an isolated consideration. Yet, there is an enormous
social psychological literature on group processes potentially relevant to our understanding of what constitutes
an effective team. This chapter has sought in some small way to bridge each domain of investigation by forging
potential links and avenues for fruitful
Chapter Thought Bytes and Examples
Some contemporary performance problems
Absenteeism
Absenteeism costs employees billions of pounds per year. Absenteeism is indicated by either frequency
of absence (for example, 10 times a year for a day at a time) or time lost from work (for example, 10
days over the course of the year). Steer and Rhodes (1990) conceptualized absenteeism as the
combination of ‘attendance motivation’ (product of satisfaction plus pressures to attend like economic
conditions and personal standards) and ‘the ability to attend’ (see Johns, 1997 for a comprehensive
review of absenteeism its correlates, causes and consequences).
Turnover
Turnover costs are extremely high, and often highly underestimated. Nevertheless, much effort has been
devoted to understanding why people leave their jobs. One of the many different models available for
conceptualizing turnover sees job satisfaction as the precursor to ‘withdrawal cognition’ (that is, thoughts
of leaving, search decisions and intentions to quit). This in turn is influenced by perceptions of
employment alternatives and opportunities, as well as the turnover norm within a company. A recent
overview relevant research yielded the following conclusions (Smither, 1994: 254258): there is a
negative relationship between age, tenure, job satisfaction and turnover, a positive relationship between
availability of jobs and turnover, intention to quit is a strong predictor of actual turnover and both
individual and group variables affect turnover.
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