Assessment Description: During this subject so far, you have been exposed to various business psychology theories that have an application to individuals, teams and organisations. Being able to apply these concepts in a practical manner is a key outcome of this course.
The purpose of the assessment task is to write a reflective essay that includes a discussion of the motivation theories you have learnt, and how these may be applied to your own work history. Being able to do so, will assist your ability to evaluate why it is that some people excel in the workplace, while others may not.
Consequently, you are required to answer the following question:
A reflective essay is an academic analysis of your own experience. It still follows academic conventions, for instance, it is structured with an introductory paragraph, middle, and a well-defined conclusion and it should have a logical series of paragraphs. The introductory paragraph must include the objective of the essay and the conclusion paragraph must highlight the importance of the learning that you have achieved in completing this assessment task.
You need to critically reflect on thoughts, feelings and actions, then integrate these reflections with the theoretical concepts. A reflective essay should be written in both the first and third person.
Your reflective essay should include:
Introduction: The concept of job satisfaction is one of the most researched concepts in the area of human resource management and psychology especially due to its relation with issues of psychology, job design and leadership (Khurana & Joshi, 2017). The main aim of this Reflective essay is to evaluate the concept of job satisfaction with respect to the theories of motivation. In doing so, this Reflective essay will define the meaning of job satisfaction/dissatisfaction and relate it to the author’s experience of the same. Afterward, this Reflective essay Reflective essay will reflectively identify and explain the theories related to job satisfaction and how they relate to the author’s situation at a previous job. Ultimately, there will be a conclusion on the concept of job satisfaction and the theories that explain it – based on the author’s insights.
Job Satisfaction: Scholars in the field of organizational behaviour and psychology have made various definitions of job satisfaction due to the concept’s popularity. Nonetheless, according to Zheng et al (2014), job satisfaction is most commonly defined as an emotional state of pleasure emerging from one’s perspective of their job as an enabler of achieving their job values, or simply put, the extent to which one dislikes (dissatisfaction) or likes (satisfaction) their job. Hence, as argued by Pardee (1990), job satisfaction generally denotes the way an employee feels about their job and this could be in regards to the entire job or some aspects of it such as the working conditions, the pay or the colleagues. Moreover, Rakic & Zivkovic (2017) and Santos (2017) argue that job satisfaction can be defined by the level at which the job meets or fails to meet an employee’s expectation, thus not only the way the employee likes or dislikes their job. The fact that job satisfaction is highly related to the human motivation has resulted in its evaluation through human motivation theories (Damij et al, 2015). According to Boye & Amponsah-Tawiah (2016), scholars popularly explain job satisfaction/dissatisfaction through the theories of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, the Porter and Lawler's Expectancy Theory, and Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theories.
A Description of My Previous Job: Two years ago, I was employed as a part-time restaurant at a city coffee shop located in Queen's land Australia. They are a chain coffee shop and its mission was to ensure that customers got fresh and high-quality coffee and snacks such as burgers and French fries. I chose to apply for this job because I wanted to have an experience in handling customers and interacting with them. Whereas I could acquire the same experience at a bank or any other service industry, I chose a restaurant because most banks in the area did not employ on a part-time basis.
During my time at the restaurant, my tasks involved taking customer orders and supplying them according to their specifications. I also participated in food packaging for customers who opted for takeaway food. Later, I took more advanced tasks such as scheduling employee duty roster at the outlet. These tasks were enjoyable to me and contributed to a development of my great interest in the service industry. I enjoyed the interactions I had with customers of different age and backgrounds and I took the opportunity to learn how to make friends and serve people satisfactorily.
The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory: Commonly referred to as the human motivation literature, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory emerges as one of the first theories to explain various factors that contribute to job satisfaction (Ehiobuche, 2013). According to Horne et al (2014), the theory holds that human needs are categorized into five levels namely: psychological needs, the need for safety, the need for belonging, the need for self-esteem and the need for self-actualization in that sequence. Thus, as the theory explains, humans must first meet the essential needs in the hierarchy (i.e. the psychological needs and the need for safety), before meeting the other needs high in the hierarchy (i.e. the need for belonging and the need for self-esteem) (Putra et al, 2017).
In general terms, the Maslow’s needs hierarchy theory was developed to explain how humans are motivated. Nonetheless, according to Baumeister (2016), it is largely applicable in job setting and scholars have used it to explain job satisfaction. For instance, within an organization similar to the restaurant chain I worked in, the financial and healthcare benefits I used to get could meet my basic psychological needs. Equally, the availability of suitable company policies, management structure and the job security that my employment contract assured me of met my safety needs. Upon having my psychological and safety needs satisfied, I felt as though I belonged to the organization because of the good relationship and teamwork I developed with my supervisors and colleagues at the workplace. Finally, even though I did not stay in the organization for a considerably longer period of time, I began to shift my focus towards becoming the best I could become within the organization through self-actualization. This is exemplified in the way I graduated from doing simple tasks of serving customers to becoming a time scheduler where I participated in developing the duty roster of all the employees in the in the outlet. I considered this task as self-actualizing due to the important role it played in ensuring a smooth running of the organization.
In this Reflective essay, I draw on the work of Abraham Maslow to make my argument that the job satisfaction can be explained through the Maslow’s need’s hierarchy as a theory of motivation. Maslow’s emphasis on the stepwise achievement of needs is useful in the analysis of how my job as a part-time restaurant attendant was satisfactory as it allows me to think through the elements of the job that enabled me to achieve my needs – thus triggering my consideration of the job as satisfactory. To this end, Maslow’s conceptualization of how humans satisfy their needs from psychological needs to self-actualization needs is essential in grasping how I felt satisfied with my job at the restaurant because the job enabled me to satisfy my psychological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization needs.
The Herzberg's Motivator-hygiene theory: According to Hsiao et al, (2016), the motivator-hygiene theory argues that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposite concepts of the same continuum, but are rather two separate or unrelated concepts. Hence, according to the theory, organizations need to motivate employees with motivating factors such as recognition of achievement, pay, and benefits in order to make the employees satisfied with their jobs (Khurana & Joshi, 2017). Conversely, as argued by Pardee (1990), factors such as job security, a well-functioning organization structure, effective policies and positive interaction with colleagues are considered ‘hygiene’ factors and determine employee’s job satisfaction levels. Noteworthy, the theory views both the motivational and hygiene factors as separate and independent and therefore there is a possibility that employees can neither be dissatisfied or satisfied (Khurana & Joshi, 2017). For instance, according to Pardee (1990), the theory holds that low-level hygiene factors contribute to unsatisfied employee but when these factors are high, the employees are not unsatisfied but are also not necessarily satisfied. As argued by Pardee (1990), this complexity accounts for employees’ mixed feelings and why they might feel either unsatisfied or satisfied at one particular time or neither unsatisfied nor satisfied altogether.
In respect to my experience at the restaurant, there are numerous instances which I can relate to the motivation and hygiene factors. The monthly salary I received was a source of satisfaction to me because I was assured of paying my bills as long as I still worked at the restaurant. Thus, the pay was a motivational factor that kept me going to work every day feeling satisfied with my job. Contrariwise, I felt dissatisfied with my job in the instances when all or any of the hygiene factors were missing. For instance, whenever I had any slight misunderstanding with my colleagues, I felt so bad about the job and thought perhaps I could quit. Yet, I did not have any second thoughts on my job in an environment where all the hygiene factors were available. Thus, I felt dissatisfied with the job when I quarrelled with my colleagues but did not feel any dissatisfaction or satisfaction when I had no quarrels with my colleagues.
Herein, I draw on the work of Herzberg to make my argument that the availability of motivation factors such as pay, recognition of achievement, and health insurance benefits determined whether I was satisfied with my job or not while the availability of hygiene factors such as job security, a well-functioning organization structure, effective policies and positive interaction with colleagues contributed to my satisfaction with the job but did not determine whether I was satisfied or not because I could still have all of them but still feel dissatisfied in the absence of the motivation factors. Herzberg’s emphasis on both hygiene and motivation factors as separate and independent is useful to my analysis of why I could feel satisfied or dissatisfied with my job at the same time when I quarrelled or had a misunderstanding with my colleagues. To this end, Herzberg’s conceptualization of the motivation and hygiene factors as key to employee satisfaction implies that an employee can feel satisfied with the job in the availability of motivational factors but may also be dissatisfied with the job whenever any of the hygienic factors is missing.
Porter and Lawler's Expectancy Theory: According to Ehiobuche (2013), this theory postulates that there is a complex relationship between performance, satisfaction, and motivation and that motivation is not necessarily equal to performance or satisfaction. This means that according to the theory, performance is not directly linked to motivation or effort, but rather, the relationship is mediated by role perceptions, traits, and personal abilities yet ultimately, performance leads to satisfaction (Santos, 2017).
To explain further, the theory holds that a person’s level of satisfaction depends on the number of rewards they achieve and therefore if an employee receives a higher amount of actual rewards than perceived rewards, they are highly likely to be satisfied with the job. Conversely, if the amount of actual rewards is less than the perceived reward, then the employee gets dissatisfied (Santos, 2017). Considering that I was a student, the pay I received at the restaurant was more than I expected and therefore I was satisfied with the job.
Nonetheless, according to Ehiobuche (2013), the theory holds that there exist two kinds of rewards namely extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards include status and working conditions while intrinsic rewards include self-actualization and accomplishment. Whereas Ehiobuche (2013) argues that intrinsic rewards as postulated by the Porter and Lawler's expectation theory are more likely to determine performance-related satisfaction, the working conditions at the restaurant were more satisfying to me because I could work while attending school at the same time. This gave me an opportunity to participate in my studies while at the same time to sustain myself financially. This, to me, was the highest form of job satisfaction.
In conclusion, this Reflective essay has highlighted the importance of motivation as a determinant of job satisfaction in the workplace. Using the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory and Porter and Lawler's expectancy theory, I have evaluated my experience as a restaurant attendant and how my job satisfaction levels can be explained through the three motivation theories. In respect to the Maslow’s theory, I have highlighted how my job as a part-time restaurant attendant was satisfactory due to the availability of various elements that allowed me to have a stepwise achievement of my needs. Equally, from the perspective of Herzberg’s theory, I have evaluated why I could have a mixed feeling of job satisfaction and non-dissatisfaction especially when I have quarrels with my colleagues. Lastly, through the Porter and Lawler’s expectancy theory, I have explained how the good working conditions at the restaurant gave me the highest form of satisfaction by enabling me to work while studying. Hence, managers should understand these theories to enable them to determine whether the organization is availing the various factors that contribute to employee satisfaction.
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