Remuneration is the only real motivator in today’s workplace - Essay Prowess

Remuneration is the only real motivator in today’s workplace


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Remuneration is the only real motivator in today’s workplace


Remuneration is simply one of the numerous employee engagement initiatives that transcend across the contemporary business world (Frey, 2002). As such, organizations with impressive performance management strategies have come to be respected as the most competitive in their industry. This is the case with such companies as Apple and Google. In the past, people only worked for an agreed upon remuneration which was sufficient motivation towards meeting rudimentary needs. These rudimentary needs were in essence limited by the considerably low degree of socioeconomic development prevailing at the time as compared to what is present today. The perceptions to life were indeed much simpler which made the operating environment for firms during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries employ scientific management theories to improve on their comparative advantage (Frey, 2002). However, in the contemporary business operating environment, organizational efficiency has come to be understood as something that cannot be improved by employing remuneration as the only motivator in the workplace. As a matter of fact, scientific research provides strong evidence to the effect that the correlation existing between motivation, compensation and employee performance is much more complicated than earlier envisaged. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one theory that strongly supports this stand as psychological studies on employee motivation began supporting for other means with which to enhance employee motivation other than remuneration (Frey, 2002). This paper seeks to offer critically support the argument that remuneration is not the only real motivator in today’s workplace environment.

Early Management Theories

In the past, businesses did not look up to the employee as a credible means with which to improve of operational efficiencies and effectiveness. There were few industries which offered limited goods and services to a comparatively larger population. The production processes during the late 18th Century and early 19th Century merely looked into ways with which operational objectives in large industries could be scientifically divided into simple tasks (Gallie, Zhou, Felstead & Green, 2012). This was perceived as the most potent means at the time with which an organization could adapt to challenges affecting profitability. As such, Taylorism emerged as the pioneering scientific management theory which in essence transformed the way businesses carried out operations. Fredrick Taylor authored the management masterpiece publication titled, The Principles of Scientific Management (Soares, Soares Filho, de Jesus Silva, Junior, Nogueira & de Araújo, 2013). In this book, Taylor invoked scientific examination of work processes in organizations which led to greater understanding as to issues which tend to affect worker productivity. Fredrick Taylor provided scientific evidence which suggested that compelling employees to labor as hard as possible did not result in improved worker productivity. He proposed that organizational tasks be split down into simple tasks and more so called for employers to endeavor in teaching, training and developing greater skills and competencies to those workers with promising productivity output levels (Soares et al. 2013) (Frey, 2002). Taylorism sought to engage managers to work towards effecting work scheduled that enables workers to have greater ease of carrying out assigned tasks. This was seen as a means with which to motivate employees towards greater productivity. Taylorism improved the ways with which organizations related with employees which translated to greater socioeconomic prosperity as better remuneration packages for workers improved their living standards and motivated employees led to the production of quality products (Frey, 2002). Taylorism also led to the effective and efficient application of organizational resources. This management theory was the first to push for improved employer-employee relations as it encouraged employers to seek towards harmoniously relating with employee towards greater organizational productivity. It allowed for the use of specialized equipment, appraising of worker competencies and more so appraised remuneration as a potent means with which to motivate workers to greater productivity. Therefore, as much as this paper seeks to argue that remuneration is not the only motivator towards better worker productivity, Taylorism as a management theory tends to point towards remuneration as the only real motivator in a workplace environment (Soares et al. 2013). However, it is important to highlight the strong setbacks associated with Taylorism. It encouraged the prevalence of social vices like nepotism, led to monotonous work processes which discouraged creativity and innovation as well as the development of de-motivating factors in the workplace. Workers suffered frustrations from being labeled as poor workers while others were labeled as remarkable workers. As such, this led to a situation where workers suffered discrimination based on physical attributes. During the 1930’s Fordism emerged as a management theory which enabled manufacturing industries to enjoy the benefits of mass production (Gallie, Zhou, Felstead & Green, 2012). The great industrialist, Henry Ford introduced this management philosophy with the sole aim of realizing greater organizational productivity by standardizing production processes. Taylorism differed from Fordism in that the earlier management theory sought to compel workers to exhibit an equivalent level of efficiency as witnessed in machines (Soares et al. 2013). Fordism on the other hand sought to integrate machines and workers into one working system. Fordism was in essence a management innovation that enabled organizations to realize greater productivity efficiencies by reducing unit production costs to a minimum. This theory employed standardization as a means with which the production of product components as well as manufacturing processes was standardized in the same way that an automated assembly line operates. As such, Fordism had little regard for the workers as the operating environment was abundant with workers who only had to learn by observation such that remuneration was the only motivating factor. It is also important to note that the Great Depression which affected the American economy at the time played a significant role in the adoption of this theory in the world’s manufacturing industries (Frey, 2002). All in all, both Taylorism and Fordism did indeed improve the socioeconomic status of economies in which they were adopted but led to a high degree of dissatisfaction among workers leading to the development of other management theories.

Weberian Bureaucracy

The renowned sociologist of German decent, Max Weber introduced bureaucracy as management theory which had a great significance in the manner with which organizations sought to motivate workers (Gualmini, 2008). Weberian bureaucracy is in essence a means for propagating strong administrative discourses through a hierarchical organization of management processes. As organizations expanded due to the socioeconomic benefits that accrued from Taylorism and Fordism, organizational processes became more complicated as did worker populations and the realization of complex financial structures (Maier, 2004). Weberian bureaucracy sought to employ rational calculations towards motivating workers. As such, it sought to remove authority from the managers and legally legitimize this authority through legal processes (Gualmini, 2008). Neutral officials developed the rules which were to be adhered to by office holders, in this case the managers. These were organizational workers with a great degree of expert training and could use career advancement as a motivating factor for employees as determined by the organization as opposed to managers (Frey, 2002);(Gualmini, 2008). For instance, in such a situation where a worker is a trained salesperson and resides in the western part of the state; and another with similar credentials but resides in the eastern part of the same state, then the organization may opt for the one conversant with the western region to work there. On the same note, the one conversant with the eastern region will be bureaucratically well placed to work in the eastern region. The organization thus was impersonal to aspects of employee motivation as they sought to treat all employees on an equal footstool (Maier, 2004). This theory thus served to opt for greater career development as a means to motivate workers as opposed to remuneration.

Humanistic Motivation Theories

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory that has in essence come to improve the manner with which organizations approach employee engagement. This theory when employed in management provided that human motivation is indeed quite complex (Weiner, 2013). As such, there are many organizations which seek to motivate employees by offering vacations, training programs, great remuneration packages and other benefits and yet employees do not seem to be satisfied with these perks. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a worker will at first seek to meet his or her basic psychological needs which can be attained by gaining meaningful remuneration (Maslow, Frager & Cox, 1970). However, soon after these needs have been met, he or she seeks to meet other needs which arise after basic needs have been met. As such, the worker seeks to ensure the safety of employment, later; the worker seeks to have a sense of belonging with the company (Frey, 2002). After these needs have been realized, the worker seeks to gain respect from the organization as well as other organizational members for his or her exploits towards enhanced organization productivity. The self actualization perspective as depicted in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is where by the employee has attained all other needs such that he or she is a phenomenon within the organization (Frey, 2002). As such, remuneration is not an issue for a self actualized employee. Similarly, Fredrick Herzberg introduced the motivation theory of intrinsic motivation (Weiner, 2013). This theory considers intrinsic factors as motivating factors which serve to enhance worker productivity. In essence, intrinsic factors towards greater employee motivation can be considered as those an employee seeks to attain after he or she has satisfied the basic psychological needs as prescribed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These include one’s love for the assigned work, a heightened sense of work accomplishment, the contentment gained from enabling greater organizational productivity, respect and good recognition within the organization (Maslow, Frager & Cox, 1970). As such, remuneration is an extrinsic employee motivation factor and as such, is not the real motivator in the contemporary workplace.


In today’s business environment, a well motivated labor force is considered as one of the greatest assets a business can have. Socioeconomic development over the past few decades has led to the development of the knowledge age where employee as better informed as to why they want to work with a particular organization. As provided throughout this paper, as the living standards of employees improve, remuneration ceases to be a potent motivation factor. In the past, the socioeconomic composition of societies led to the development of Taylorism and Fordism which led to the development of other theories which looked into issues of humanistic motivational philosophies. The early management theories did not give significance to such aspects of motivation. These are now very critical factors in determining employee productivity in the modern world. As such, one can contend that remuneration is not the only motivator in today’s workplace.


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Gallie, D., Zhou, Y., Felstead, A., & Green, F. (2012). Teamwork, skill development and employee welfare. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 50(1), 23-46.

Gualmini, E. (2008). Restructuring Weberian bureaucracy: Comparing managerial reforms in Europe and the United States. Public Administration,86(1), 75-94.

Maier, R. (2004). Motivation (pp. 1-7). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.

Maslow, A. H., Frager, R., & Cox, R. (1970). Motivation and personality (Vol. 2). J. Fadiman, & C. McReynolds (Eds.). New York: Harper & Row.

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