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Currys & Motivation

I have decided to undertake a literature review on Currys, an established electrical retailer founded by Henry Curry in 1884. From 1984 it has been part of the DSG International plc. Operating in the tertiary sector, Currys has become the United Kingdom’s largest electrical retailer, with 510 stores nationwide, employing 13,714 staff and earning 2,677 million in 2007/2007 alone. I will be focusing on the Curry branch in Crawley, which has been running since 2001. It currently employs 14 full-time and 13 part-time colleagues. They are divided into teams working in the various areas of the shop floor including white goods (laundry, cooking and refrigeration), computing and small domes...

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...tic appliances, T-bar (photographic technology and MP3 players) and the gallery (televisions and DVD players).

Each team has a team leader, whose job it is along with the rest of the management team to maintain high levels of motivation throughout. The employees at the for-front are one of the most valuable assets, if not, the most important to a business like Currys in gaining a competitive advantage, in terms of profits and customer retention, in the market. Recent feedback from internal questionnaires shows growing concerns of low morale within the workforce, reflected by the poor percentage results.

I will be looking into motivation of employee’s at Currys to find out the reasons why low morale in the workforce has had a correlating link towards the underachievement of bonuses. Bonuses can be earned each month when the bonus strike rate is 24% or above, then employees will get paid 1 for any whateverhappens (insurance) and instant replacement, 2 for pay-as-you-go (insurance), and 5 for each Easiplan (finance) they provide to customers.

With the strike rate below 24% in recent months, since I have been working there for 6 months, together with negative feedback from internal questionnaires shows a problematic area to be examined within this literature review on motivation. To consider the reasons behind these issues, I will draw attention to specific theoretical areas of motivation that supports the information and findings, from an interview with the regional manager and a questionnaire designed to understand the employee motivation of sales-colleagues which will follow, in relation to Currys.

Motivation cited by Mullins refer to Mitchell’s definition as “the degree to which an individual wants and chooses to engage in certain specified behaviours.” According to Bloisi et al, motivation was “a conscious decision to perform one or more activities with greater effort than other competing activities.” Workplace motivational theory can be sub-divided into 2 groups of induced thoughts; ‘content’ and ‘process’ theories. The former looks at what motivates an individual to behave in certain ways and the latter seeks to explain the process of these certain behaviours.

Content Theory

Companies largely in the public sector try to stimulate employees by offering financial rewards such as pay and bonuses. The scientific management theory by F.W Taylor attempted to find the best and most efficient way to work. He suggested that workers needed money as motivation to raise productivity. He believed that the most productive worker should get a higher financial reward.

Currys provided its employee’s with a competitive basic wage along with a London weighting allowance. While bonuses can be remunerate according to the quantity they produced or in relation to tertiary sector jobs, the amount of sales, insurance and finance they sold once the 24% target as a store is surpassed. Unfortunately, Huczynski and Buchanan showed the limitation of Taylor’s study and expressed that workers were subject to increased monotonous work, which has excluded a range of extrinsic factors which motivate employees.

The working environment in most retail companies are sales driven. Douglas McGregor declared 2 sets of management assumptions either a theory X or theory Y notion. Under theory X; employees are perceived to be there due to monetary reasons, parallel to Taylor theory, leading to an authoritarian style of leadership ensuing constant supervision, lack of opportunities for responsibility and training. On the other hand, theory Y assumes that employees looking for job satisfaction through empowerment and allowing them to contribute to decision making.

Mullins pointed out that employees are not just motivated by money alone. The expression of Mayo’s ‘Hawthorne Effect’ was the experiment on the working conditions and the level of productivity, which saw varying outcomes from the different variables. It was concluded that workers wanted to be acknowledged as being part of the team. He argued that the groups at work were a greater influence to the behaviour and motivation of the individual than that of pay and working conditions. Buelens et al, criticised Mayo for his over-reliance on social factors to motivate employees.

Although Mayo stressed the importance of belonging, Maslow put forward a model where individual needs were met by a bottom-to-top hierarchy behaviour; he suggested that basic needs must be satisfied before higher level needs were pursued. Alderfer, influenced by Maslow’s work, condensed the hierarchy into his ERG theory; Existence (Maslow’s lower needs), Relatedness (belonging and esteem-needs), and Growth (self-esteem and self-actualisation needs), which can be pursued simultaneously. It was labelled the regression theory, because he believed that if individuals did not achieve the required goals they would put more effort into the need to achieve the higher rewards.

Whilst Mayo and Maslow placed working conditions at the bottom-end of the scale. A good environment should be sorted out first cited by Mullins refer to Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory that the ‘hygiene’ factors were similarly in place to avoid dissatisfaction, which included: salary, job security, working conditions, level and quality of supervision, company policy and administration, interpersonal relations. Whilst ‘motivators’ gave rise to superior performance and effort, nonetheless, if these were not met it did not cause dissatisfaction rather a lack of satisfaction, which included: sense of achievement, recognition, responsibility, nature of work, personal growth and advancement.

Cited by Wiley refer to Maidani’s criticism of Herzberg’s theory as a broad consideration of employee needs, as salary, recognition and responsibility have overlapped each other both as motivators and as hygiene factors. Wiley’s review of employee motivation surveys also made it clear that money was a motivator rather than a hygiene factor. However, Mullins claims that not gaining any motivating factors will reduce the level of motivation to progress because “Herzberg has emphasised the importance to the ‘quality of work life’. He advocates the restructuring of jobs to give a greater emphasis to the motivating factors at work, to make jobs, more interesting and to satisfy higher level needs.” Tietjen and Myers remarks that ‘motivators cause positive job attitudes because they satisfy the worker’s need for self actualisation’.

Cited by Buelens et al, refer to David McClelland’s need for achievement (nAch) from challenging goals, responsibility, and success. Herzberg’s motivators can be linked to achievement-motivated individuals who set goals (ie bonus targets) in a bid to get results of achievement to satisfy their needs. The need for accomplishments can enhance employees’ self-esteem to work towards higher order needs of business. The other acquired needs was the need for power (nPow) of desire to control and influence others; and the need for affiliation (nAff) through social relationships with others. Using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to measure individual motivation.

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