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Organizational Behavior

Although it may seem fairly obvious that receiving praise and recognition from one’s company is a motivating experience, it is sad that many companies are failing miserably when it comes to saying thanks to their employees. According to Curt Coffman, global practice leader at Gallup, 71 percent of US workers are “disengaged,” essentially meaning that they couldn’t care less about their organization. Coffman states, “We’re operating at one-quarter of the capacity in terms of managing human capital. It’s alarming.” Employee recognition programs, which became more popular as the US economy shifted from industrial to knowledge based, can be an effective way to motivate employees and make them feel valued. In many cases, however, recognition programs are doing “more harm than good,” according to Coffman.


Consider Ko, a 50-year-old former employee of a dotcom in California. Her company proudly instituted a rewards program designed to motivate employees. What were the rewards for a job well done? Employees would receive a badge that read “U Done Good” and, each year, would receive a T-shirt as a means of annual recognition. Once an employee received 10 “U Done Good” badges, he or she could trade them in for something bigger and better—a paperweight. Ko states that she would have preferred a raise. “It was patronizing. There wasn’t any deep thought involved in any of this.” To make matters worse, she says, the badges were handed out arbitrarily and were not tied to performance. And what about those T-shirts? Ko states that the company instilled a strict dress code, so employees couldn’t even wear the shirts if they wanted to do so. Needless to say, the employee recognition program seemed like an empty gesture rather than a motivator.


Even programs that provide employees with more expensive rewards can backfire, especially if the rewards are given insincerely. Eric Lange, an employee of a trucking company, recalls a time when one of the company’s vice presidents achieved a major financial goal for the company. The vice president, who worked in an office next to Lange, received a Cadillac Seville as his company car and a new Rolex wristwatch that cost the company $10,000. Both were lavish gifts, but the way they were distributed left a sour taste in the vice president’s mouth. He entered his office to find the Rolex in a cheap cardboard box sitting on his desk, along with a brief letter explaining that he would be receiving a 1099 tax form so he could pay taxes on the watch. Lange states of the vice president, “He came into my office, which was right next door, and said, ‘Can you believe this?'” A mere 2 months later, the vice president pawned the watch. Lange explains, “It had absolutely no meaning for him.”


Such experiences resonate with employees who may find more value in a sincere pat on the back than in gifts from management that either are meaningless or aren’t conveyed with respect or sincerity. However, sincere pats on the back may be hard to come by. A Gallup poll found that 61 percent of employees stated that they hadn’t received a sincere thank-you from management in the past year. Findings such as these are troubling, as verbal rewards are not only inexpensive for companies to hand out but also quick and easy to distribute. Of course, verbal rewards do need to be paired sometimes with tangible benefits that employees value—after all, money talks. In addition, when praising employees for a job well done, managers need to ensure that the praise is given in conjunction with the specific accomplishment. In this way, employees may not only feel valued by their organization but will also know what actions to take to be rewarded in the future.


Employee Motivation


Select any four of the following motivation theories you read about this week:

  • Self Determination Theory
  • Goal Setting Theory
  • Self-Efficacy Theory
  • Equity Theory/Organizational Justice
  • Employee Involvement
  • Job Design


Based on the above reading and the knowledge gained from your assigned readings, write a paper that describes how you would use each theory to motivate your employees. Be very detailed and support what you say with research.


Support your responses with examples.


Cite any sources in APA format.









Part 2 ( need 2-3 paragraphs)

Should Companies That Fire Shoot First?


In the recessions in the early eighties and nineties and after the 2001 terrorist attacks, layoffs were fairly private affairs. To be sure, news would often leak out to local and national media outlets, but companies did their best to keep it as quiet as possible. One consequence of the growth of the Internet in general, and of social networking sites in particular, is that this is no longer possible.


When Starbucks laid off employees in 2008 and 2009, the website received a barrage of posts from disgruntled employees. One 10-year employee wrote, “This company is going to lose every great partner that it has. I am sick and tired of being blamed for not meeting my budget when the economy is in a recession. I used to be proud of my company . . . now I am embarrassed and feel physically ill every time I have to go to work.”


Some companies are taking a more proactive approach. When Tesla Motors laid off employees, its CEO, Elon Musk, posted a blog entry on the topic just before announcing the layoffs to employees. “We had to say something to prevent articles being written that were not accurate,” he said.


“Today, whatever you say inside a company will end up in a blog,” says RusyRueff, a former executive at Pepsico. “So, you have a choice as a company—you can either be proactive and say, ‘Here’s what’s going on,’ or you can allow someone else to write the story for you.”


Illustrating the perils of ignoring the blogosphere, when newspaper giant Gannett announced it was laying off 10 percent of its employees, it posted no blog entries and made no statement. Jim Hopkins, a 20-year veteran who left the company just before the layoffs, writes the unofficial Gannett Blog. “I try to give the unvarnished truth. I don’t think the company offers the same level of candor to employees,” he said. Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell replied, “We attempt to make those personal communications happen as quickly as possible.”


Says blog expert Andy Sernovitz, “There are hold-out companies that still wish there was traditional PR control of the message, but that day is long over.”


Based on the above reading and the knowledge gained from your assigned readings, respond to the following questions:

  • Do you think Tesla CEO Elon Musk did the right thing when he blogged about impending layoffs just before announcing them to company employees? Why or why not?
  • Do you think employees have a responsibility to be careful about what they blog about their company? Why or why not?
  • Do you think employees who blog about their companies have an ethical responsibility to disclose their identities?
  • Develop one or two principles of a sensible policy for handling communication of sensitive issues inside and outside your company and tell us why they are good principles.
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