When I think of motivation in the workplace, I would immediately associate it with a corporate setting. During one seminar, Professor Audrey Chia mentioned that she observed the behaviour of surgeons while they were in the operating theatre and noted that the surgeons did indeed behave differently when they knew they were being observed. An article by Low & Robertson discussed the sources of motivation among hospital employees in Singapore and how managers can “use non-monetary rewards to motivate their employees in service industries” (Low & Robertson, 2006). This essay will thus discuss the importance of intrinsic motivation of employees in service industries. The paper highlights that although money is one form of motivation, “60.46% [of employees] expressed their emphasis on non-monetary aspects or rewards of motivation” (Low & Robertson, 2006). Non-monetary motivation which managers can apply include praise and recognition, care and concern, empowering and developing employees and ensuring person-environment fit.
Intrinsic motivation is important in services industries because it is a “vital currency for an organization’s survival and success” (Low & Robertson, 2006). For instance, giving praise and recognition makes employees feel respected and appreciated and will hence produce good results in their jobs. Praise and recognition will increase one’s self-efficacy through verbal persuasion, making them more confident in their ability to perform their job. When a manager provides care and concern for an employee facing personal challenges, the employee will be better able to focus on his work tasks once his personal problems have been resolved. In addition, empowering and developing employees makes them “feel at home”, thus fostering and strengthening relationships between the manager and subordinates. Thus, employees will be more committed to a firm that cares for their needs and their well-being and gives employees a sense of ownership into what they do , as indicated by Dan Ariely. This is not to say that extrinsic motivation i.e. money is not effective. However, money is a fluid motivator and is only effective to a certain extent. For instance, money “is the vehicle by which employees can buy the numerous need-satisfying things they desire” (Low & Robertson, 2006). This can be linked to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where the “need-satisfying things” are the physiological needs such as shelter and food. However, money undermines employee’s motivation and makes them feel under-appreciated. Eventually, this increases a firm’s turnover rate. In my opinion, money as a motivation can be used to reward employees based on their performance but should be complemented with non-monetary motivation.
Secondly, intrinsic motivation is important in service industries because of the “trying” nature of the industry (Low & Robertson, 2006). Taking care of patients can be a difficult task because it requires the tailoring of one’s efforts and behaviour to individual patient needs. Moreover, employees will also be tasked with different situations everyday and may end up questioning the purpose of their jobs. Hence, in such a service environment, a high level of job engagement is needed, which is the “investment of an employee’s physical, cognitive and emotional energies into job performance” (Robbins & Judge, 2012). When an employee is highly engaged in her job, she believes it is meaningful to engage in it and because the organization’s values are similar to the employees, where employees with the same values are working together. If there is a misfit in values, employees may feel dissatisfied and will be unmotivated working in such a trying environment, causing him to eventually leave the job. In my opinion, not only is value-matching and job engagement important, managers in service industry can engage in recognitions such as employee of the month awards and participative management where employees are involved in the decision-making with their subordinates. This thus increases their allegiance to the company and provides a greater meaning in their job.
In conclusion, service industries have dynamic and highly adaptable environments. Intrinsic motivation makes a job fun to do even during difficult situations. In my opinion, the extent of intrinsic motivation depends on the company’s culture. A manager is severely limited to provide intrinsic motivation if the company has a task-oriented and hierarchy-oriented culture where achieving results are important. Hence, in such an environment, motivating employees intrinsically may be considered a secondary priority. Moreover, I feel that a relationship-oriented and egalitarian-oriented culture is a necessary complementary to intrinsic motivation for employees because the values and actions are practised every day, as seen in the example of the action of the employees in the siege of the Taj Hotel by terrorists.
Low, K. C., & Robertson, R. W. (2006). Not for Bread Alone—Motivation Among Hospital. Public Organization Review , 6 (2), pp 155-166.
Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2012). Organizational Behavior. Prentice Hall.