The success of any business unit or organization primarily relies on the nature of work force, and management systems it adopts. It is important for all managers to note that, currently the economic world is undergoing very many transformations not only monetary wise, but also in terms of work patterns and employees’ behavior.
In this regard, it is important for organizations’ management teams to adopt measures, which will ensure organizations maintain competent workers. This is primarily possible through adoption of policies that will ensure an organization takes care of its workers needs as they arise; hence, avoid unrests that may arise in workplaces.
It is important to note here that, adoption of policies only cannot help a management team succeed, but rather these management teams must coin their understanding of an organization’s assets, resources, and tools in management practices for them to succeed. This paper will discuss concepts of employee reinforcement, evolution of job design, main differences between job stress and burnout as they relate to organizational theory and behavior.
It is never an easy task for organizations to meet all its employees needs; psychologically human needs are unending, hence making it impossible for organization to satisfy their employees’ needs. Although this is the case, an organization can adopt a variety of mechanisms, which will ensure its employees remain motivated and goal oriented. It is important to note here that, monetary remuneration contributes very little to job satisfaction.
This is to say; although external motivators have a role to play when it comes to employees’ motivation, their contribution to performance is little. This therefore calls for adoption management mechanisms that will ensure employees always remain intrinsically motivated towards work (Moorhead and Griffin pp. 103-109).
Generally, reinforcements are stimulus that makes individuals to act or behave in a certain ways, hence strengthening the re-occurrence or repetition of a certain acts. Many organizations have adopted a variety of reinforcement strategies, but there exist great variations in terms their effects as concerns work output.
Reinforcement can be in form of a positive or a negative incentive; depending on the behavior exhibited by individuals. The four basic forms of reinforcement are positive and negative reinforcement, extinction and punishment (Villere and Hartman pp. 27-26).
Positive reinforcement involves the use of pleasing incentives as means of appreciating good deeds. Positive reinforcement can be in form of monetary rewards or appraisals, which will encourage repetition of specific behaviors. Managers use this reinforcement measure for two reasons. Firstly, they use it as a way of appreciating good performance, and secondly, as a way of showing what kind of behavior an organization desires from its employees.
Positive reinforcement is one of the main strategies that organizations use to ensure its employees always remain productive. On the other hand, this strategy is an important tool for discouraging some unwanted behavior such as absenteeism or lateness. For example, in a chemical industry, for managements to reduce accidents occurring daily, they can use buffets as incentives on top of employees’ monthly salary.
Although this method works, it is important for managers to study and understand reasons behind repetition of certain behaviors. This is because; in most cases, workers may repeat some behaviors because they know there are rewards. Verbal forms of positive reinforcement include the use of words such work “well done’, “.congratulation”, ‘keep up the good work” (Moorhead and Griffin pp.149-156).
Contrary to positive reinforcement, negative reinforcements are never desirable; hence, individuals always avoid negative them. Negative reinforcement is the act of escaping negative incentives.
It is important to understand here that, negative reinforcements are means of encouraging certain behaviors considered desirable, by application of incentives that discourage undesired behavior. This mode of reinforcement works on the principle that; once individuals experience negative conditions of specific reinforcement measures they are likely to change their behaviors.
For example, an employer can use this mechanism when employees’ quality of work goes down by explaining to them that customers are dissatisfied with their quality of work, hence the organization’s reputation is at stake. This like a case can make an employee to fill insecure; hence, they will avoid laziness and strive to ensure their work meets required standards. Although a good strategy, it is important for managers to include other mechanisms of ensuring this method works.
In addition to negative and positive reinforcement, punishment is another common method that managers use to ensure workers stay put and goal oriented. Managers use punishment when employees exhibit certain unwanted behaviors. Generally, punishment is the use of unpleasant outcomes to ensure employees follow set standards.
For example, in situations of poor work performance, managers can use suspensions as a means of reprimanding or warning employees. Although a good way of showing the degree of a mistake, in most business scenarios it never achieves desired outcomes.
The last form of reinforcement is extinction; which operates on the principle that removal of certain positive stimulus can help to eliminate undesired behaviors. Common examples used by organizations include benefit withdraws, bonuses, and other positive verbal incentives such praises. This strategy in most cases works best as compared to punishment, because employees will always feel guilty when managements appraise their fellow employees (Marcic and Daft pp. pp. 461-462).
Evolution of Job Design
Although incentives play a central role of ensuring workers remain in focus as pertains achievement of organizational goals, there is need to organize duties to fit employees’ competencies. This is because correct allocation of such duties is not only motivating, but also ensures there is job satisfaction among employees.
Job design is the endeavor to make required changes in working conditions aimed at making work more pleasant and motivating. Noting the current changes in employees’ working patterns, it is important for managements to consider varied factors that influence the motivational level of employees. Job design has undergone many transformations from the traditional approaches where talent and social motives had little significance (Moorhead and Griffin pp.164-174).
The earliest structure of job design was Taylor’s scientific management method, which emphasized adoption of mechanisms of making work more pleasant. In addition, scientific management emphasized the use of trainings to reduce the number of employees who could perform certain duties. Some aspects of this method for example specialization find wide application in current job scenarios, although the approach is a little bit different.
For example, in the past managers could achieve job specialization through using repetition of duties, which presently has taken a different approach where talent and competence plays a role in specialization. Another common form of specialization that has undergone many transformations is job rotation.
This form of job specialization helps managers to reduce stress and boredom associated with one station. In addition, when job rotation occurs in managerial position it helps managers to learn new management tricks, hence innovation.
Other forms of job design techniques that organizations have adopted currently include job enlargement and enrichment. Job enlargement involves provision of a variety of activities to employees; a strategy important for expanding employees potentials while reducing monotony and boredom. This strategy is very motivating because it helps employees build self-esteem and worthiness, which translates to increased revenues.
In addition to provision of a variety of working activities, currently many organizations have adopted other management policies that have granted employees more freedom in terms of task performance and control. In the past managers could always follow keenly on how employees perform their duties, but presently many organizations accord employees’ personal freedoms, which has contributed greatly to increased responsibility among employees.
Another common current approach to job design is the job characteristics theory. This theory uses five main characteristics: skill variety, feedback, task significance, autonomy, and task identity. Task variety involves the nature of skills that a specific job requires; autonomy determines specific levels of freedoms a job gives an individual, and feedback is concerned with a job’s reaction mechanisms on performance levels.
On the other hand, task identity is concerned with the level of a job’s tangible outcome, which depends on commencement and ending of a task, whereas, task significance is primarily concerned with effects that a job has on the overall running of an organization, individual lives and immediate surrounding environments.
Considering the nature of these design strategies, it is important for managers to combine them for organization to realize maximized outcomes from employees’ efforts (Moorhead and Griffin pp. 173- 192).
Job Stress and Burnout
Owing to the fact that everything done in business follows set time schedules, sometimes there are likelihoods of work overloads and strain. It is important to note that, most activities engaged in during normal working schedules needs a lot of physical coordination, minutiae, concentration, speed and time hence, compounding all this facts makes work tedious and strenuous leading to stress.
In addition to stress associated with real work, sometimes balancing between job duties, other employees’ demands, and social life is another major cause of stress to employees.
This is because at one point an organization has goals it wants its employees to fulfill, while on the other hand social life has its demands that individuals must fulfill. In this regard, stress is an adaptive mechanism used by individuals in reaction to pressing psychological and natural demands. Two main differences connected to stress are hardiness and hopefulness.
Primarily, the former is concerned with individuals’ ability to manage stress, where by this group of individuals have the ability to deal with stress, hence always goal oriented and focused. Optimism is characteristic in individuals who see an opportunity in everything, to this group of individuals the positive aspects of life matter more that negative discouragements, hence are too always focused and goal oriented (Moorhead and Griffin pp. 221-237).
Although optimism and hardiness are common adaptive mechanisms used by individuals to cope up with stress, sometimes due to many other job factors for example role demands, ambiguity, conflict can cause exhaustion, leading to a condition called burnout. Burnout is a consequence of build up stress, resulting from excessive demands to perform and deliver results.
Burnout primarily results when organizational demands makes individuals to forego their social demands, hence dedicate most of their time to these demands. Because of this, most individuals in the end get fatigued, strained and aggravated, hence causing a feeling of helplessness.
Although both stress and burnout are manageable, burnout has more adverse effects on individuals than stress. This is because it is easy to notice an individual suffering from burnout than normal stress, owing to the fact that burnout has more withdrawal symptoms.
In addition, although the two are related, they have clear differences in that, stress results from excessive work demands where as burnout in most cases results because individuals feel their jobs are of no significance to them. To most individuals, their lives are more crucial, hence the need to respect life demands; whose suppression leads to burnout.
Another common difference is that, although individuals can sustain stress by embracing adaptive mechanisms, burnout is never adaptive, hence inmost cases it results to resignation and loss of job interest.
On the other hand, it is important to note that primarily burnout is a motivational predicament, a characteristic differentiating it from stress, because stress’s main cause is work overload and not lack of motivation.
In conclusion, for organizations to be successful in all their endeavors there is need of adopting measures that will balance organizational and employees’ demands.
Villere, Maurice and Hartman, Sandra. Reinforcement theory: a practical tool. Leadership Development journal, 12(2) (1991): pp.27-33. Print.
Moorhead, Gregory and Griffin, Ricky. Organizational behavior: managing people. 6th ed. London: Houghton and Mifflin Company, 2000. Print.