Work Motivation Theories
Reinforcement theory describes how rewards or reinforcements affect behavior. Based on Skinnerian theory, the concept of reinforcement does not focus on internal states such as motivation, but explains behavior as a function of the individual's reinforcement history - the behavior that has brought rewards in the past. Skinner believed people are controlled by their environment and are not necessarily free. Although it appears people are motivated by internal causes, usually the causes can be related to the environment (Feist & Feist, 2009). Reinforcement theory claims behavior is a response to the environment. According to this theory, behaviors rewarded within the organization will be repeated. Furthermore, people will perform in specific ways they believe will lead to rewards (Spector, 2008).
In the case of JC's Casino, the employees are not receiving rewards and their performance continues to deteriorate with absences and tardiness until they eventually quit. They are overworked and their performance goes unnoticed and unappreciated. While the housekeeping staff makes a reasonable effort to obtain new employees, the existing housekeepers need to be motivated by a solid reward structure. Until the housekeeping staff is fully prepared, providing an external reward for accomplished tasks will perpetuate a reinforcement history and the housekeepers' desire to perform will be repeated. Rewards can be simple such as movie tickets, grocery coupons, or services already offered in the casino.
Justice theories state people value fair and equitable treatment by their organizations. People value fair treatment, which motivates them to maintain fairness within their organizational relationships (Guerrero, Andersen, & Afifi, 2007). Equity in the workplace is based on the relationship between inputs and outcomes. Inputs are the contributions made by the employee for the organization. When people are treated fairly and equitably, ordinarily they will change the level of their performance in the organization (Spector, 2008).
People are motivated to seek equilibrium. When a situation is out of balance, individuals are typically unhappy, unmotivated, and have a sense of dissonance or tension. According to Spector (2008), people compare themselves to others to assure themselves they are receiving as much for the same job as the person next to them. Fairness is an element people integrate into their perceptions of life, work, and family life, and it is a necessary ingredient in the health and well-being of the workforce.
In the case of the housekeepers at JC's Casino, regardless of the quality or quantity of their work, they are pushed to work harder and produce more. Treatment is neither fair nor equitable and their performance goes unrewarded. Without change to the management's expectations, the housekeeping staff has become angry, resentful, and unmotivated. New housekeepers must be recruited. Additionally, the dealers' work environment is supervised by a manager who is toxic, overbearing, evil, and incompetent. The human resources director must confront the owner about his step-son's supervisory performance at work. Without addressing this component of JC's organizational problems, the casino's ability to retain dealers will continue to deteriorate.
Occupational Stressors and Alleviations
According to Spector (2008), "a job stressor is a condition or situation at work that requires an adaptive response on the part of the employee" (p. 292). A variety of stressors in the work environment can be stressful for employees. Conflicts between supervisors and coworkers can be especially stressful as well as heavy workloads (Spector, 2008). Research claims excessive workloads have psychological, physical, and behavioral effects and can lead to anxiety, frustration, job dissatisfaction, and the intention to quit (Hausknecht, Rodda, & Howard, 2009). Interpersonal conflicts between coworkers or supervisors can have the same effects. Employee perception that supervisors "engage in self-serving behavior in which they put their own interests above those of the organization" is a significant stressor as well (Spector, 2008, p. 297).
Stressors for the housekeepers include the staff shortage, which requires the current staff to clean more rooms per day than their counterparts. This situation puts additional strain on the administrative staff who is consistently asked to clean rooms, which is not a regular part of their job description. One of the first quick fixes is to find additional staffing for the housekeeping department. Recruitment should be the task of the human resources director and should be accomplished immediately. Once additional staff is selected and trained, the fundamental problems associated with understaffing will be resolved. Full staffing will relieve stress and promote staff retention.
Job Satisfaction and its Influence on Employee Retention
Job satisfaction at the casino has been minimally accommodated until now. The complaints of the dealers in exit interviews has not been addressed because the human resources director is afraid to confront the owner about his step-son. Equally as distressing is the director's inability to hire a sufficient staff to accommodate the casino's needs. Ultimately, it may be in the casino's best interest to retrain the human resources director, or recruit a new department manager who will not be afraid to accommodate the needs of the employees prior to facilitating his fear to make necessary decisions. The human resources director should play a key role in recruiting staff for housekeeping.
Job dissatisfaction is pervasive throughout the staff at the casino. The managerial staff has suffered role ambiguity because of being asked to work as housekeepers. Several are applying for positions elsewhere. The dealers stay with the casino on average two months because of Joe's unprofessional supervisory behavior. The housekeeping staff is overworked and many of the employees are looking for new jobs. This department must be fully staffed immediately, which will resolve problems in this area. Furthermore, the housekeepers should be compensated in some way for responding to the overbearing needs of the department.
To maintain dealer retention, Joe, the pit boss, needs to be appropriately trained in professional managerial protocol. Toxic, overbearing, evil, and incompetent behavior are characteristics mutually exclusive to successful management. Removing Joe or addressing and changing his poor management skills is essential to regain dealer retention. No organization can subject employees to incompetent, degrading, and unprofessional management, and expect to retain them.
The human resources director needs training to learn adequate employee selection and training practices and to gain a more lucid understanding of how important employee retention is to the organization. Research has identified extrinsic rewards, organizational commitment, and fair and equitable treatment as reasons for staying with a company. Extrinsic rewards are particularly important for hourly employees (Hausknecht, Rodda, & Howard, 2009). A human resources manager should understand and implement an effective approach to retention management that involves understanding and addressing the goals of the organization (Hausknecht, Rodda, & Howard, 2009).
Counterproductive Employee Behavior
Counterproductive behavior in the work environment has far-reaching implications that affect employees throughout the organization (Yang, 2008). Such behavior has a negative, indirect association with well-performing employees if they perceive the general climate as negative. Generating a ripple effect, counterproductive behavior not only affects the target of the behavior but also a second tier consisting of observers or those witnessing the behavior (Yang, 2008). Counterproductive behavior at the casino includes Joe's unprofessional supervision of the dealers, the director of housekeeping's inability to staff his department, and the casino's human resources director, Tom Sneed's inability to identify and reconcile the necessary changes in supervisors.
Although the housekeeper's complicit behavior can be construed as counterproductive, their absenteeism is a direct result of mismanagement, and it is assumed their behavior will correct itself under more professional and appropriate management. In addition to suggestions made under the heading of "Organizational Stressors and Alleviations," training is highly recommended for the human resources director. Understanding how to select and properly train employees is a crucial element in maintaining a productive staff. Immediate efforts must be made to fully staff the housekeeping department. This should be facilitated by the human resources director in association with the director of housekeeping.
Furthermore, regarding the counterproductive behavior of the pit boss, the owner should be fully apprised of the situation with a recommendation for his step-son's immediate removal. His expertise may be implemented in another department if he is properly trained and develops useable professional skills. It is essential the owner understands the implication of imploying his step-son in a supervisory position. Dealers are an integral part of the casino's organizational community, and without retaining the best, the company will suffer.
An organization's success depends on implementing motivational theories to maintain employee retention. Equally critical is removing occupational stressors that negatively and chronically affect retention. Creating a positive work environment is essential to the health and well-being of an organization because job satisfaction is directly correlated to keeping performing employees. Counterproductive behavior must be reduced. As explained by Felps, Mitchell, and Byington (2006), "seeing others act against the legitimate interests of an organization makes those behaviors more mentally accessible and lowers a worker’s inhibitions about behaving in a similar fashion" (p. 219).
Felps, W., Mitchell, T., & Byington, E. (2006). How, when, and why bad apples spoil the barrel: negative group members and dysfunctional groups. Research in Organizational Behavior, 27, 175-222. doi: 10.1016/S0191-3085(06)27005-9
Feist, J. & Feist, G. J. (2009). Theories of personality (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Guerrero, L. K., Andersen, P. A., & Afifi, W. A. (2007). Close encounters: communication in relationships. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Hausknecht, J. P., Rodda, J., & Howard, M. J. (2009). Targeted employee retention: performance-based and job-related differences in reported reasons for staying. Human Resource Management, 48(2), 269-288. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20279
Spector, P. E. (2008). Industrial and organizational psychology: research and practice (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Yang, J. (2008). Can't serve customers right? An indirect effect of co-workers' counterproductive behaviour in the service environment. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81(1), 29-46. doi: 10.1348/096317907X203742