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Changing the Nature of Work Published: Sunday, May 19, 2002 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Dealing with the human element inside organizations is like trying to find the fountain of youth… Everyone searches for an effective system for managing motivation, but no one is fully satisfied. Behavioral scientists have set out a core of assumptions in order to establish a fair foundation for managing with intelligence the elusive condition of motivation. The purpose has been to identify a reasonable system for inducing high performance and managing motivation within teams and organizational settings. Thus, the other day an eager student asked me if I could explain to him the essence of a so called scholar Frederick Herzberg. With pleasure, I responded. Moreover, next Sunday I will write the San Juan Star column on this topic. This behavioral scientist is best known for his thesis that work itself is the primary source of motivation within an organization. Executives, he argued, cannot deal with basic problems of employee motivation by increasing pay and fringe benefits. These executives may expand the health plan, offer longer vacations, build in protections again arbitrary dismissal, and pipe music into the offices. But dissatisfaction will not disappear. To find out what employees really want, he studied thousand of employees in various nations with a set of simple questions: What do you like most about your work? and What you dislike most about your work? He found that employees enjoyed: (1) Achievement as the satisfaction of seeing the results of their own effort; (2) Acknowledgement of others of it; or recognition; (3) Creative and challenging aspects of the work itself; (4) Responsibility for their own work or the performance of others; (5) Advancement into jobs or tasks of greater responsibility; (6) Opportunities for personal and career growth. Herzberg called these satisfiers. Herzberg discovered that the factors traditionally related to human resources motivational techniques (salary, status and fringe benefits) were constantly cited by employees as barriers to effective performance. He pointed to eight general facets of work which employees most disliked about their jobs. (1) Organizational policy and administration when they were screwed up. (2) Supervision when it was incompetent. (3) Working environment when they were poor and ugly. (4) Interpersonal relations when conflict was constant. (5) Salary when people were working harder that what they received. (6) Status when it was not proportional to performance. (7) Job security when it was threaten. (8) Personal life as when a family member was upset with the job. The most striking result of Herzberg’s studies was the fact that hardly anyone said that they loved their work because of their salary, status, job security or any other dissatisfiers. His prescription for making work the primary source of motivation was very simple: enrich the job. This is done by expanding responsibilities while offering rewards, reorganizing the pattern of work, improving the assembly-line, set up or service delivery by giving each employee a fairly complete job, increasing accountability, reducing controls, allowing greater job freedom and discussing job reports. The above design factors appeal to the six satisfiers for changing the nature of work that stresses achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement and growth.


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