Rewards for Information Workers

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This paper explores an approach to build intrinsic motivation in High TechnologyWorkers which motivates them to work on their personal learning plans to earn rewards in their personal, educational and career objectives in a work environment governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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Rewards for Information Workers

  1. 1. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers Building Intrinsic Motivation Using Personal Learning Plans for High Technology Workers Leo de Sousa AbstractThis paper explores an approach to build intrinsic motivation in High Technology Workerswhich motivates them to work on their personal learning plans to earn rewards in their personal,educational and career objectives in a work environment governed by a Collective BargainingAgreement. Topics covered are (a) Definition of Key Terms, (b), Background, (c) An Approachfor Motivating Unionized Employees, (d) Review of Supporting Motivational Theories and (e)Conclusions. After reading this paper, the reader should have a clear understanding of the keyterms, background, discussion of motivational theories and an approach to develop intrinsicmotivation for employees to work towards rewards in their personal, educational and careerobjectives.Leo de Sousa Page 1
  2. 2. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers DefinitionsCollective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): A written contract between an employer and a laborunion, for a definitive period of time, spelling out conditions of employment, wages, hours ofwork, rights of employees and the union, and procedures to be followed in settling disputes.Personal Learning Plan (PLP): A structured and collaborative process between an employee andtheir manager with goal of creating a plan for the employee’s personal, educational and careerdevelopment.SMART Objectives: A mnemonic used in performance management to describe the goals andtargets set for employees. SMART stands for : Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, andTime Bound.Total Compensation: A Human Resources term used to describe the complete compensation anemployer provides to employee including salary, benefits, pension, health care and governmentbenefits. BackgroundI lead a team of 22 unionized, Systems Analysts in the Information Technology Servicesdepartment at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) (www.bcit.ca). BCIT is aprovincially chartered and publically funded higher education institution. My team hasresponsibility for all the applications delivered centrally to our community. My team members’total compensation is governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between theBCIT Faculty and Staff Association (FSA) (www.bcitfsa.ca) and BCIT. The CBA (BCIT FSA,2007) prescribes the specifics of the employee compensation items: • Holidays, Vacations and LeavesLeo de Sousa Page 2
  3. 3. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers • Professional Development • Placement and Advancement • Salary, Hourly Rates and Allowances • Insurance/Benefit Plans • Administrative AllowancesThe CBA does not have any provisions for bonuses or rewards for FSA union members,although BCIT does run an annual Employee Excellence recognition program. The CBAspecifies three job descriptions - Junior Systems Analyst (JSA), Intermediate Systems Analyst(ISA) and Senior Systems Analyst (SSA); each with nine pay steps. The job descriptions aregeneric and specific duties are defined within work teams. Staff members are automaticallygranted the next salary pay step annually until they reach the top, ninth step. Staff members canfollow a process to apply for reclassification from JSA to ISA and ISA to SSA. Finally, theCBA describes a Performance Management process but the outcomes of the performance reviewcan not be used for discipline or reward purposes.This constrained environment is a significant challenge for managers. It is particularly difficultto find ways to motivate our staff members with rewards. Managers have some discretion inassigning work to team members and allowing flexible work hours but the unionized cultureforces a manager to work to the lowest common denominator when considering rewardopportunities. Should a manager appear to break the rules in the CBA, there is a grievanceprocess that a staff member can engage to address their issues. The final background factor to beconsidered is that nature of the work environment of high technology workers. High technologyLeo de Sousa Page 3
  4. 4. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workersworkers are constantly faced with changes in their profession and there are significant challengesfor them to stay current while also doing their daily work. An Approach for Motivating Unionized EmployeesAn approach I have implemented to motivate my team is the Personal Learning Plan (PLP).Swinton recommends “Although you may have little scope to change pay policies and makesubstantial changes to what people earn, there is plenty you can do. Making sure you holdregular one to one meetings to discuss goals and personal development is a valuable investmentin time. Set goals for your team and help them to create their own personal development plan.”(Swinton, 2006) I meet regularly with my team members to collaboratively build a personallearning plan. This approach has been successful in the workplace and motivates staff membersto advance their personal, educational and career objectives. Developing PLPs with your staffprovides multiple motivational and rewarding impacts: • Reinforces the shared responsibility of the employer/manager and the employee to career development benefiting the employee and the company • Allows employees at lower positions to build skills and competencies so they can apply to reclassify to higher level positions • Allows employees to build skills and competencies so they can apply for different jobs and roles in the organization • Keeps job skills current in a rapidly changing high technology work environmentPersonal Learning Plans are “living” documents that require an investment of time by theemployee and manager to build plans that are realistic and achievable. A key to this requirementLeo de Sousa Page 4in the process is ensuring the individual learning items to “SMART objectives”. A sample
  5. 5. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workerspersonal learning plan can be found in Appendix A. Personal Learning Plans are effectiveintrinsic motivation tools that help employees achieve extrinsic rewards. Three reward scenariosare: (1) Constructing a plan to allow employees to reclassify to higher level positions, (2)Constructing a plan to allow employees to apply for different jobs and (3) Constructing a plan toenable employees to remain current in their field reducing stress from technology change. Review of Supporting of Motivational TheoriesI found several motivational theories that support the approach of Personal Learning Plansincluding Adams’ Equity Theory, Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, Fear of Failure and PersonalCausation.In the background section, I explained the collective bargaining agreement article allowingemployees at lower levels to apply for a reclassification of their position to a higher jobdescription. John Stacey Adams developed an Equity Theory that fits this scenario particularlywell. Aside from the extrinsic motivation of receiving more pay, employees compare theirworkload and responsibilities to those of their peers. Essentially, the employee compares theireffort to reward ratio with that of their peers and colleagues. If the person believes they arespending more effort and receiving less reward, they will be de-motivated. One of the morecommon themes in my PLP meetings revolves around a discussion about how the employeeperceives their work effort in comparison to a colleague who is in a higher position (andreceiving higher pay). This sentiment is very common in a unionized environment that isconstrained in providing extrinsic rewards for good work in your current job.Adams writes about “referent others” to describe the people and reference points we use toLeo de Sousa Page 5compare our situation to. “Crucially this means that Equity does not depend on our input-to-
  6. 6. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workersoutput ratio alone - it depends on our comparison between our ratio and the ratio of others.”(Chapman, 2010) This is a key concept for Adams’ Equity Theory (see Appendix B) in thatperception of equity plays a key role in the motivation for employee’s inputs to a work process.Junior and Intermediate Systems Analysts wanting to apply for reclassification are motivated todevelop their skills and experience in order to be successful in reclassification process. As themanager, I can reward this desire by providing funding support for training and professionaldevelopment as well as coaching. I can also provide opportunities for the employee to lead partsof key projects and to project manage smaller projects. Having a “SMART” objectives designedpersonal learning plan allows me to provide rewards to employees who are motivated to developtheir career to gain extrinsic rewards. Six of my staff have taken this approach and successfullyreclassified to higher level positions in our department.I use Personal Learning Plans as motivational tools to guide the people I mentor. Anintermediate systems analyst who worked on the Service Desk (Help Desk) team approached meto get advice on how to put herself in a position to apply for a role as a business analyst.Together, we developed a PLP that focused on developing new skills and opportunities for her towork on gathering requirements in projects. The power of the plan is the written commitment bythe manager and the employee to act on the plan. Using Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (seeAppendix C), we can see how the Valence of the Outcome (to move to a new role) times theExpectancy (creating a PLP) leads to a motivational force to achieve. (Vroom, 1964) The PLPbecomes a tangible piece of evidence that the person uses to gain the reward of being able toapply for a new role. Brown uses Vroom’s Expectancy Theory to discuss Reward Management.Some of her key points directly support the strength of using personal learning plans to motivatethe employee to gain the rewards “they” desire. (Brown, 2010)Leo de Sousa Page 6
  7. 7. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information WorkersHigh technology workers are under constant pressure to stay current in their rapidly changingfield. Once a Systems Analyst reaches the top step of the senior level (SSA), money and statusare no longer motivating factors. These staff members tend to be older and articulate concernsabout how quickly things change around them. Legitimate concerns revolve around a Fear ofFailure in the form of defensive pessimism. Younger staff members in the organization come tothe workplace with new skills that the older staff have not received training for. PersonalLearning plans for senior staff members address these demotivating forces by committing themanager and the employee to a learning plan that introduces new skills at a pace that theemployee can handle. Deci supports this approach by referencing De Charms’ theory ofPersonal Causation and the concept of being an “Origin”. (Deci, 1995) ConclusionsImplementing Personal Learning Plans with unionized employees provides a manager theopportunity to provide rewards that benefit the employee and the organization. Developing PLPswith your staff provides multiple motivational and rewarding impacts: • Reinforces the shared responsibility of the manager and the employee • Allows employees at lower positions to build higher level skills and competencies • Allows employees to change jobs by building skills and competencies • Keeps job skills current with a rapidly changing high tech work environmentPersonal Learning Plans are “living” documents that require an investment of time by theemployee and manager to build plans that are realistic and achievable. If managers choose toinvest the time and effort, they tangibly enhance the personal, educational and career rewards ofLeo de Sousa Page 7their employees.
  8. 8. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers ReferencesBCIT FSA, B. (2007, July 1). Collective Agreement 2007-2010. Retrieved Nov 26, 2010, from BCIT Faculty and Staff Association: http://www.bcitfsa.ca/Documents/2007- 2010CollectiveAgreement.pdfBrown, C. (2010, Feb 26). Reward Management and Motivational Theory. Retrieved Nov 20, 2010, from uPublish.info: http://www.upublish.info/article.php?id=316070&act=printChapman, A. (2010, Feb 1). Adams Equity Theory. Retrieved Nov 20, 2010, from businessballs.com: http://www.businessballs.com/adamsequitytheory.htmDeci, E. L. (1995). Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self Motivation. Penguin Books.Swinton, L. (2006, Oct 12). Adams Equity Motivation Theory; Put Workplace Psychology Into Action and Increase Motivation. Retrieved Nov 25, 2010, from Management for the Rest of Us: http://www.mftrou.com/adams-equity-motivation-theory.htmlVroom, V. H. (1964). Work and Motivation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Leo de Sousa Page 8
  9. 9. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers Appendix A – Sample PLP PERSONAL LEARNING PLANName PositionDate DepartmentCareer Interests Current PositionLearning Learning Targeted Evidence of Employee BCITGoals Activities Completion Success Investment Investment DateIf additional space is required, please copy this form or turn over and use the back of thisdocument.___________________________ ____________________________ Employee Signature Manager SignatureDate _______________________ Date ________________________Leo de Sousa Page 9
  10. 10. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers Appendix B – Adams’ Equity TheoryThe table and diagram below shows how Adams’ Equity Theory balances between inputs andoutputs as well as the measure of equity as perceived by the person. (Chapman, 2010) inputs equity outputs dependent on comparing own ratio of input/output with ratios of referent othersInputs are typically: effort, People need to feel that Outputs are typically all financialloyalty, hard work, there is a fair balance rewards - pay, salary, expenses,commitment, skill, ability, between inputs and outputs. perks, benefits, pensionadaptability, flexibility, Crucially fairness is arrangements, bonus andtolerance, determination, heart measured by comparing commission - plus intangibles -and soul, enthusiasm, trust in ones own balance or ratio recognition, reputation, praise andour boss and superiors, between inputs and outputs, thanks, interest, responsibility,support of colleagues and with the ratio enjoyed or stimulus, travel, training,subordinates, personal endured by relevant development, sense ofsacrifice, etc. (referent) others. achievement and advancement, promotion, etc.Leo de Sousa Page 10
  11. 11. IST 617 Assignment 4 – Student Choice #2 Nov 29, 2010 Choice #1: Research Paper – Rewards for Information Workers Appendix C – Vroom’s Expectancy TheoryExpectancy Theory is based on an employee’s beliefs: • Valence - refers to emotional orientations which people hold with respect to outcomes (rewards) – the value the person attaches to first and second order outcomes • Expectancy – refers to employees’ different expectations and levels of confidence about what they are capable of doing – the belief that effort will lead to first order outcomes • Instrumentality – refers to the perception of employees whether they will actually receive what they desire, even if it has been promised by a manager – the perceived link between first order and second order outcomesThese 3 factors interact together to create a motivational force for an employee to work towardspleasure and avoid pain. The formula for this force is: Valence of outcome x Expectancy act will be result in outcome (Instrumentality) = Motivation Force Second Order Outcomes First Order Outcomes • Praise from boss • Performance • Salary increase • Creativity • Demotion Effort Expectancy Instrumentality • Tardiness • Job security Level • Reliability • Acceptance by Co-workersFirst Order Outcome is the behavior that results directly from the effort an employee expends onthe job.Second Order Outcome is anything good or bad that results from a first-order outcome. People exert to Task and Work-related Effort achieve Performance receive OutcomesLeo de Sousa Page 11

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