The reason people work is simply so that they can earn money to spend on their leisure activities Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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The reason people work is simply so that they can earn money to spend on their leisure activities.

It is true that most people do work to spend money on their leisure activities. However, this is not the only reason that people work as this is not the only need satisfied by working. Other needs could be just as important e.g. the need for diversity in the workplace or the need of feeling appreciated in the job one is doing. Yet, every individual is not the same and therefore each respective individual has his/her different needs and levels of satisfaction. There are some reasons for working that could apply to everyone such as the need for money but some reasons have more importance for certain individuals than others i.e. one employee may need to work as part of a team whereas another may want to work on his/her own.

It is widely believed that if a workers needs are not satisfied then he/she will not be motivated to work. Motivation is a key factor because it can affect the efficiency of the business as a whole. Businesses have found that even if employees are satisfied with their pay and working conditions, they complain that managers are failing to fully motivate them. It seems in many companies that employers are not getting the full potential from their workers because not all their needs are being satisfied not only the need to spend the money they earn on leisure. Companies may overcome this problem by devising a strategy to attempt to satisfy most of their employees needs. An example of this could be to use these steps:

1. Identifying the need or motivation

2. Creating an incentive by setting up discussions with management and establishing goals

3. This would derive satisfaction from the employees who would feel that their opinion and contribution is valued to a certain extent

4. This in turn would result in the willingness of the employees to work harder

These strategies would have to be revised often though because, as mentioned before, sole needs are difficult to both identify and satisfy. Despite this, there have been many attempts over the years by various people, to classify the needs of employees. I will discuss these theories one by one.

The first comprehensive attempt to classify needs was by Abraham Maslow in 1954. Maslows theory consisted of two parts. The first concerned classification of needs and the second concerned how these classes are related to each other.

Maslow suggested that classes of needs could be placed into a hierarchy that is presented as a pyramid, with each level consisting of particular needs.

The classes of needs were:

* Physiological needs, e.g. wages high enough to meet weekly bills;

* Safety needs, e.g. job security;

* Love and belonging, e.g. working with colleagues that support you at work;

* Esteem needs, e.g. being given recognition for doing a job well;

* Self-actualisation, e.g. being promoted and given more responsibility.

The pyramid looks like this:

Maslow argued that needs at the bottom of the pyramid are basic needs. They are concerned with survival. These needs must be satisfied before a person can move to the next level e.g. people are likely to be more concerned with basic needs, such as food than anything else. At work an employee is unlikely to be concerned about recognition and appreciation from managers if he has not eaten for ten hours.

Once each level is satisfied, the needs at this level become less important. The exception is the top level of SELF-ACTUALISATION. This is the need to fulfil your potential. Maslow argued that although everyone is capable of this, in practice very few reach this level.

Each level of needs is dependent on the levels below. Suppose an employee has been motivated at work by the opportunity to take responsibility, but finds he may lose his job. The whole system collapses, as the need to feed and provide for himself and his dependents again becomes the most important need.

Maslows ideas have been extremely useful to businesses, as the message is distinct in showing the levels each individual appears at and what rewards can be given to each. Unfortunately the theory has problems when used in practice, as some levels do not appear to exist for certain individuals, while some rewards appear to fit into more than one class; after all everybody is different. Money for example needs to be used to purchase essentials such as food, but it can also be seen as a status symbol or an indicator of personal worth. There is also a problem in deciding when a level has actually been satisfied. There will always be exceptions to the rules Maslow outlined. A well-motivated designer may spend many hours on a creative design despite lack of sleep or food.

This indicates the specific needs that people work to satisfy other than leisure activities i.e. safety needs, receiving and giving love, affection, trust and acceptance, gaining both the esteem and respect of others and self-esteem and self-respect, and the most desirable of all, the need to realise ones own potential.

Another attempt was made by Frederick W. Taylor who set out a theory of SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT in his book The Principles of Scientific Management in 1911. Many of the ideas of todays scientific management school come from the work of Taylor.

The turn of the century in the USA was a time of rapid expansion. Compared to today, the organisation of work on the shop floor was left much more in the hands of workers and foremen. Workers often brought their own tools and decisions about the speed of the machines were left to the operators. There were few training programmes to teach workers their jobs and skills were gained simply by watching more experienced colleagues. Decisions about selection, rest periods and layoffs were frequently made by foremen.

Taylor suggested that such arrangements were haphazard and inefficient. Management did not understand the shop floor and allowed wasteful work practices to continue. Workers, on the other hand, left to their own devices, would do as little as possible. Soldiering would also take place (working more slowly together so that management did not realise workers potential) and workers would carry out tasks in ways they were used to rather than the most efficient way.

Taylors scientific principles were designed to reduce inefficiency of workers and managers. This was to be achieved by objective laws that management and workers could agree on, reducing conflict between them. Neither party could argue against a system of work that was based on science. He set out a method designed to find the best way to carry out a task at work. Taylor believed his principles would create a partnership between manager and worker, based on an understanding of how jobs should be done and how workers are motivated. Taylor had a very simple view of what motivated people at work- money. He felt that workers should be paid according to how much they worked and pay should be linked to output through price rates. A worker who did not work well enough would earn less and one who would exceed the target would deserve a bonus.

Taylors message for business is simple allow workers to work and managers to manage based on scientific principles of work study. Many firms today still attempt to use Taylors principles however there are many problems with his concepts.

Firstly his idea of the best way does not take into account individual differences it may not suit everyone. Secondly, he viewed workers as machines only working to achieve their financial (or according to Maslow, physiological) needs. Taylor did not seem to realise that there were many other needs to be met by these workers i.e. some may be earning money to spend on leisure activities as well as to earn respect, trust and self-esteem in the workplace.

In 1960 Douglas McGregor published The Human Side of Enterprise. It was an attempt to apply the implications of both Maslow and the work of Taylor and Mayo to business. In it, he gives different reasons why people work. He coined the terms Theory X and Theory Y to describe these differences.

Theory X assumes that workers are lazy, only motivated by money, selfish, avoid responsibility and lack ambition. If this is accepted, then the only way to get people to work is by using strict control and direction by management. This control can take one of two forms. One method is to use coercion the threat of punishment if rules are broken or targets not achieved. However, the problem with threats is that they are only affective if the person being threatened believes that they will be carried out. Modern employment laws, and company wide agreements, have made this difficult for managers. For this reason a reverse approach may need to be used where people will have to be persuaded to carry out tasks by promises or rewards (this is similar to Taylors theory)

Theory Y, on the other hand, assumes that those things at the top of Maslows hierarchy motivate most people. In other words, people are responsible, committed and enjoy having control over work. Most people, given the opportunity, will get involved in work, and contribute towards the solution of a problem that may arise.

Business managers tend to say that their own assumptions are closer to Theory Y than to Theory X. But tests on management training courses tend to show that their attitudes are closer to Theory X than they might like to admit. In addition, many managers suggest that, while they themselves are like Theory Y, workers are closer to Theory X.

In practice, it could be argued that most firms behave according to Theory X, especially where shopfloor workers are concerned. The emphasis is on the use of money and control to encourage workers to behave in the correct way. The same organisations might behave according to the assumptions of Theory Y when dealing with management.

Both these theories outline distinct difference between two types of workers. Theory X implies that people only work so they can use their money on leisure resources whereas Theory Y indicates that reasons for working are much deeper and significant than that; needs like esteem, acceptance and enjoying the job are more important.

In 1966 Fredrick Herzberg divided the causes of what motivated people at work into two categories:

* MOTIVATORS. These are the factors which give workers job satisfaction, such as recognition for their effort, sense of achievement and chance of promotion. Increasing these motivators is needed to give job satisfaction. This, it could be argued, will make workers more productive. A business that rewards its workforce for, say, achieving a target is likely to motivate them to be more productive. However, this is not guaranteed, as other factors can also affect productivity.

* HYGIENE FACTORS. These are factors that can lead to workers being dissatisfied, such as pay, conditions and treatment at work and feelings of inadequacy. Improving hygiene factors should remove dissatisfaction, however this alone is not enough to motivate an individual; without them though there would be a fall in productivity.

Improving hygiene factors may remove dissatisfaction at first, but often it can just be taken for granted. Also, there is a problem in relying too much on what people say they find satisfying or dissatisfying, as this is subjective. Herzberg indicates that workers are motivated by a multitude of needs not only the paycheque at the end of the month.

The theories of motivation that have been dealt with so far assume that people try to meet their goals and so satisfy their needs. Vrooms and Lawler and Porters theories however state that this relationship is not so simple.

Firstly, each individual has different aims and goals of various levels of achievement in life. Secondly, people will only act to achieve their goals if they feel there is a chance of success. Thirdly, the value of the goal to the individual will also affect the persons motivation.

These theories might affect the way a business designs its pay and benefit systems and also the design of tasks and jobs to enable people to satisfy their needs. They take into account that people have different needs, and that some may want autonomy and responsibility at work, whereas others may not (i.e. they might only be interested in leisure activities).

It is difficult to conclude whether any of these broad perspectives is correct or incorrect as any one may be either depending upon the circumstances. If the business is more inclined towards hierarchy and authority, and the work is tedious and routine, people may only choose to do such work due to the pay. For example, in 1969 Goldthorpe and Lockwood found that workers on a Vauxhall car assembly line saw work as a means to earn high wages. This would allow them to enjoy their leisure activities more. In such cases, monetary rewards are more significant than factors in Maslow and Herzbergs theories such as responsibility.

However, at other times, job interest and involvement may outweigh financial rewards e.g. in worker buy-outs where employees are willing to sacrifice high wages for job security and having a say in running the business.

I think that it is very difficult to generalise what motivates people. Employees are likely to have different priorities at different times and in different circumstances. For example a teenager may not have any other responsibilities so would only earn money to spend on his/her leisure activities. Whereas on the other hand, a single mother would work to support her kids and maybe also at the same time try to climb up Maslows pyramids to achieve a high and balanced emotional status of self-esteem. Every individual is different and has his/her own needs and reasons for working.

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