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Individuals choose actions that increase their self-interest. This is the main reason why they work harder, so as to increase their salary or positions. Money is the main motivator of many individuals, although some have other self-interests. Taylor emphasized on economic needs as the main motivations for workers. Many corporate management teams use this theory to ensure maximum utility of human resources and to maximize productivity. Some have criticized the theory while others have applied it in their organizations. The paper will explain F.W. Taylor’s enthusiasm for the rational economic model of work motivation.
Taylor emphasized on the need for economic incentives to motivate employees and in the process maximize human resource utility, maximize production, profits as well as quality. Economic motivators include money, promotion and career advancement opportunities, better working conditions and recognition. These motivators are part of employees’ self-interests. Taylor’s theory explains that people know their self-interests. Their actions are always directed at maximizing these self-interests. People are mainly motivated by money such as high wages, allowances, bonus and salary. This makes employees to work harder towards the highest possible wages. Thus, the common phrase “no job, no money” is applicable. This means that if more money is offered to employees, more work will be done and hence productivity increases. Taylor also emphasized on the need to reward workers based on their performance (Taylor, 2004). Performance-based rewarding means that employers are to calculate the optimal worker performance and give these as targets to workers. The more workers meet their targets, the more rewards they receive from their employers. Those who do not meet their targets are punished through warnings, less pay and possible termination. To the workers, Taylor’s theory emphasizes the need to waste no time at work, increase their creativity of doing work, corporate with their management, take up every opportunity of training to increase their skills and work correctly to increase their wages. Employees can save time at work by utilizing their breaks for socialization and immediately going back to work when this time is over. Workers are also encouraged to be innovative and creative at work by coming up with better methods of doing work and production. Training on jobs and improvement of skills is also encouraged for employers. This helps them to not only increase their knowledge and skills, but also to increase quality and quantity of production. Workers who have more training and better skills should also be considered for promotions and advancement of their careers (Adetule, 2011).
Taylor’s theory involves breaking down the production process into smaller work units. These work units are further divided into tasks that are done either manually or automatically. These tasks are then performed in different ways and timed to find the best way to perform each task. The best methods are chosen to ensure that time is properly utilized during the performance of each task. Time utility during performance of single tasks ensures that the whole production is timely. This process of measuring is repeated to measure maximum utility for other resources such as labor. For example, maximum number of people to work on a specific task is found out and tools for these workers are calculated to avoid redundancy of resources. This process as proposed by Taylor’s theory ensures that all inputs are maximized and that the production process is efficient and timely. Management should provide and encourage on job training to increase the workers’ knowledge, creativity and sharpen their skills. This will increase efficiency and save time in the production process (Lussier, 2008).
As stated above, increasing production utility is the main objective of meeting individual’s self interest by management. Worker’s self interests vary depending on individuals. They include respect, financial rewards, promotion, career advancements and recognition. Management uses different forms of rewards to motivate their employees and hence maximize worker’s production and maximize utility. The basic reward is money. Money can be used as a reward in different forms. Increasing worker’s hourly wage motivates them to work for longer hours so as to make earn more total wages. Basic salary can also be increased for the monthly staff members. Allowances such as house allowance, car allowance and travelling allowance should also be added to employees’ basic salaries. Payment of overtime is also important to motivate workers to put in extra hours to timely production and that products are delivered to the end consumers. Medical refunds are also given as rewards, whereby employees are compensated for all medical costs that are charged for them and their immediate family members. Another reward is promotion and recognition. Employees who show exemplary results in their duties are always given positions with more responsibilities such as supervision of fellow employees. These promotions are often accompanied by more rewards such as higher salary levels. Promotion is also rewarded to those employees who go for further training to improve their knowledge and skills. Recognition of unique performances and creativity is also a viable reward. Recognition encourages innovation and creativity as each employee who comes up with a new way of doing a task is rewarded. Leave days and maternity breaks are also possible rewards. After long periods of hard work, employees should be given breaks to rest and interact with their families. These leave days not only allows the employee to rest and rejuvenate their energy but also to relax so that they can be more productive when they resume. It is also true that healthy mental state results into creativity, timeliness and higher productivity. Freedom and trust can also be used as a reward. Employees can be given freedom to time themselves on tasks and duties. They can also be trusted to do the right thing and hence be less supervised. This method can show trust on the management’s part towards employees, which can motivate them to work harder and in the correct way (Taylor, 2012).
The supporter’s of Taylor’s rationale economic model of work motivation cite various benefits for its adaptation process management and capitalism. The basic benefit of Taylor’s theory is that it enables tasks and procedures to be measured. Measuring of tasks within a production process ensures that time is properly maximized, while ensuring high quality of the end product. Task measurement also ensures that the maximum resources for each task are calculated and allocated to reduce redundancy of resources. Redundancy is avoided when only the necessary units of labor are assigned a specific task and are given only the necessary equipment to finish the task. This means tools and machinery are not left lying around with no one to operate them. The opposite of this is that people are neither found in production lines nor doing work as they ‘wait’ for their colleagues to lend them tools when they finish their own tasks (Miles, 2012). Supporters of this theory also argue that workers receive higher pay when they cooperate with management. Employees’ benefit by gaining financial rewards such as increased wages, promotion and allowances when they work hard and collaborate with management to increase productivity. Individual efforts add up to improve output, higher sales and more profit for the organization. Managers use some of these profits to reward employees as a way of thanking them for their individual efforts. Organizations, which base their management methods on this theory also, experience more innovation and creativity from their workers. Improving methods of doing tasks and coming up with better work methods increases the quality and quantity of production. Improvement in working conditions is also another benefit that is accrued from this method of management for the employees. Employers improve worker’s conditions of doing their tasks as a way to motivate them. Employees benefit by having better condition, which translates to better mental and physical health. Improvement in working conditions includes setting up better safety precautions such as safety clothing for workers. This theory also helps managers to adopt a more positive approach to their responsibility as leaders. They no longer use their leadership positions to coerce or command workers. Instead, they use this role of leadership to motivate and communicate with employees. This allows employees to share their innovation ideas with their seniors since they have freedom of expression and trust of work. Workers share these ideas also because they have faith in their management to discuss them further, implement them and even recognize them for their creativity (Nelson, 2012). Taylor’s theory also ensures that capitalists pay for the output given by employees and hence ensure that money is not lost on redundant employees. This scientific model is used to calculate the maximum utility of an employee. The figures are given to employees as targets for their expected outputs. Workers are then rewarded according to how they meet the targets. Those who are not able to continually meet their targets are either laid off or given other tasks that they can accomplish. Therefore, this saves the capitalists money by reducing production costs and increasing efficiency of inputs. Taylor’s model also provides the data necessary to use to create improvements in the production process as wells design new plants. These include information on tasks and time taken to accomplish them as well as the necessary labor and capital needed to effectively accomplish the tasks (Khurana, 2009).
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Critics of Taylor’s enthusiasm for the rational economic model of work motivation also used different arguments to defend their stand. They include the fact that the model encourages specialization and narrowing down of individual skills to accomplish only single tasks. Such practice leads to repetition as workers are trained to do the same thing over and over again. These employees become too specialized such that they cannot accomplish any other task (Cole, 2004). The knowledge also surrounds this single task so that they only know about their tasks and maybe their department. Employees become self centered so that they do not care about what happens to the product once they turn it over to the next product unit. This centeredness also leads to feuds and hatred among production departments, as they are not concerned about any other department. The use of money as a basic motivator also leads to overlook of other human needs such as security, love and belonging. These are important needs that can only be achieved by sparing time for employees to interact and bond. This however is not encouraged by Taylor’s models, which crusades against time wasting. The model also encourages work fragmentation such that too many tasks are created out of a production process. This leads to too many tasks whereby some are unnecessary (Rud, 2009). Such approach can even lead to wastage of the same resources that the model crusades for saving. The model also leads to time wastage as products are moved from one department to another for small tasks to be performed on them. Taylor’s model also makes it difficult for worker’s unions to bargain for more wages. This is because all tasks are measured scientifically and pay rates calculated such that wages are calculated from these rates. These makes it difficult to ask for more wages, as workers are required to work more to receive more. Taylor’s model has also encouraged bureaucracy as it has placed the responsibilities of planning and control only on managers. This has inhibited worker’s contribution as their time and tasks are scheduled. Such workers are supposed to follow the set schedules for them to maximize their output and consequently their wages (Wilson, 2013).