Staff Motivation In Vital In Singapore Business Essay

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Introduction of Vital

Vital is a government department formed on 1 Apr 2006 under the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Their core business is to provide back-end administrative functions in Human Resource Services (HRS), Finance Services (FS), Payroll and Claims Services (PAC), Learning and Development Services (LDS) and Travel Management (TM) to the public service. It brings together common services within the public sector to leverage economics of scale, improve operational efficiency and achieve cost effectiveness. Out of the 500 staffs at the shared services centre, 450 are directly involved in operations.

1.2 Background

This article presents a synthesis of employee motivational theories which will influence employees’ engagement in Vital. A model was designed based on the literature review, linking factors of employee’s motivation and organizational effectiveness. Through deep analysis of problems and challenges studies, implementation of various HR Policies to enhance the job performance that will resultant improve job satisfaction and lower turnover rates were suggested.

Questionnaire surveys were used to measure job satisfaction and work motivation in Vital with a sample size of 100. The results of the survey were analyzed in contrast with the Research framework in Chapter 2.

The final part of the report provides an illustration with an explanation on the influence of employee engagement practices through motivation theories.

1.3 Problem Statement

The purpose of the report is to investigate how will motivational factors influence employees in Vital to reduce propensity in leaving the organization?

1.3 Rationale for selection

An employee engagement survey conducted in 2010 by Towers Watson and the Civil Service College found employee engagement at all-time low. Benchmarked against 30 agencies in the Singapore Civil Service, Vital is ranked among the bottom three in employee engagement.

Turnover Rate in Vital is high, and supervisors are spending extra time to re-train new employees. Hence, the author would wish to research on employees’ motivation factors that will reduce the propensity to leave the organization. Therefore, recommend suggestions to the management team to review and implement to the organization. This will ensure a win-win situation for both employees and the organization. Employee motivation is one of the vital factors that can help the employer to improve highly motivated employee and organization’s success. Motivated employees will work harder; produce higher quality and greater quantities of work. They are more likely to engage in organizational citizenship behaviours, thus less likely to leave the organization.

Organizations need to provide public servants with attractive benefits such as a good salary, appreciations and good remuneration. With that, the employees themselves will be highly motivated in their jobs, and this will lead to high performance in their work.

Job satisfaction is something that working adults seek, and it is a key element of employee retention. It is only possible when employees feel comfortable physically and psychologically.

Hale (1998) stated that 86% of employers was experiencing difficulty attracting new employees and 58% of organizations claim that they are experiencing difficulty retaining their employees. While pay will always be an important factor, it is not the only driver for employees of today. To engage and motivate staff to reach their full potential, having an effective reward and recognition strategy is vital. Out of the many ways to reward and recognise employees, non-monetary rewards are gaining popularity among employees as the most effective means to celebrate the achievements of staff.

Figure Capture.JPG

According to a recent survey on Employee Job Satisfaction in Malaysia as shown in Figure 1, 78% of workers were not happy at work. While it is often perceived that the main reason that many young talents leave a company is because of the low salary, only 17% of respondents quoted salary as the main reason for influencing their unhappiness at their current job. Dissatisfaction with their scope of work was the top reason that many felt unhappy at work.

Most of these unhappy employees said they felt they had too much work, or that their work was routine and boring. Employee performance fundamentally depend on many factors like performance appraisals, employee motivation, employee satisfaction, compensation, training and development, job security, but the area of study is focused only on employee motivation as this factor highly influence the performance of employees.

1.5 Objectives & Research Questions

This proposal will attempt to investigate several factors related to motivation. First, it will investigate the factors that contribute to work motivation. Next objective is to examine the relationship between motivational factors and employees’ motivation in Vital. Last but not least, this proposal will provide recommendations to help reduce high employees’ turnover rate.

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Introduction / Purpose

Motivation is the key component of organizational culture. Organizational culture plays a significant role in an organization regarding how individuals experience about their work performance, levels of employees’ motivation, commitment, and eventually results in job satisfaction. Sempane et al. (2002) states that by explaining that people are the key factors for competitiveness and organizations can demonstrate highly complex social structure because of their cultural strength.

Employees that are motivated are fully aware of the organization’s goals. When they know that organization will provide rewards when they achieve the goals, they will divert all their hard work and devotion towards those goals.

Monetary or non-monetary rewards can be used as significant tools for increasing employees’ motivation. Rewards are a positive step towards the improvement of an employee’s performance. It is a way to boost employees’ morale. Rewards help in increasing the frequency of an action performed by the employee of an organization. (Zigon, 1998)

The most important factor in the delivery of the best quality service is the motivation of the employees; on the individual level as well as on the group level. In today’s competitive world, to be able to deliver the best service in order to satisfy customers has become very difficult; in fact organizations take it as a challenge to motivate employees in order to get the best output from them.

2.2 Maslow’s Need Hierarchy of Needs


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the fundamental theories of personal motivation. The theory can be used as a framework to identify the various benefits organizations can offer to satisfy their employees’ needs and, in turn, increasing motivation, productivity and overall company revenues.

Maslow (1943) stated that people, including employees at organizations, are motivated by the desire to achieve or maintain the various conditions upon which these basic satisfactions rest and by certain more intellectual desires.

According to Maslow, each need has to be satisfied substantially in order for an individual to progress to the next level. Managers are able to motivate their employees by providing rewards that help satisfy the need that is operational and prevalent at any point in time. Once a need has been satisfied substantially, it ceases to be a motivator. Then, employees move to the next level in the need hierarchy and work on satisfying those needs.

Applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to human behaviour in organisations, it can be seen that people will first of all be motivated by the desire to satisfy physiological needs through monetary rewards. Once those have been substantially satisfied, however; workers will seek to satisfy – be motivated by – their safety needs, such as job security and welfare benefits.

Maslow’s esteem need includes the need for responsibility, reputation, recognition and respect from others. This esteem need gives the employees a sense of importance and will also provide them with opportunities to contribute. Receiving recognition and praise are fundamental motivators across all levels of employees. Employees like to feel that their work contributes to establishing a good reputation for them. If esteem needs are not fulfilled, employees will feel frustrated and inferior; this will impact on their passion and performance level.

At the high level of the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization which refers to reaching one’s full potential, and this has a profound effect on an employee’s commitment. Hence, the person becomes interested in self-fulfilment, self-development & creativity. According to Maslow, this will vary from person to person and, indeed, may differ over time, as a person reaches a level of potential previously considered unattainable and goes on to strive for new heights.

Maslow theory rests upon four main assumptions. First, the theory holds that all human needs cannot be satisfied, because, if one need is satisfied, another arises. Second, the theory assumes some needs are innate. The other assumption is that a satisfied need does not motivate behaviour. Lastly, the theory holds that Human beings attempt to satisfy their needs in a specific order, based on hierarchy.

2.3 Herzberg’s Two-factor Theory (Motivation-Hygiene Theory)

Herzberg (1964) identified five factors that most often contributed to employee dissatisfaction: perceived fairness of company policy, pay, working conditions, relations with one’s supervisor, and relations with co-workers as hygiene factors. When they are adequate, people will not be dissatisfied; neither will they be satisfied. Hygiene factors do not significantly increase employee motivation but are necessary to maintain a certain level of employee motivation.

Hygiene factors are factors which ‘surround the job’ rather than the job itself. In majority, employees will turn up to work only if an organization has offered a reasonable salary and safety physical conditions, but these aspects will not make him work harder at his job. According to Frederick Herzberg, the factor of hygiene or the pay to the work performed is the biggest motivator that helps the employees to retain in a particular workplace for a longer period of time.

If the organization wants to motivate employees, Herzberg suggested emphasizing factors associated with the work itself or with outcomes directly resulted from it, such as promotional opportunities, personal growth opportunities, recognition, responsibility, and achievement. Improving employees’ performance and motivation could be obtained through the action of the motivational factors, which directly reflect the content of the executed work by the employee on his position.

According to Herzberg, the factors leading to job satisfaction are separate and distinct from those that lead to job dissatisfaction. Therefore, managers who seek to eliminate factors that create job dissatisfaction can create peace, but not necessarily motivation. The opposite of job satisfaction is not job dissatisfaction, but rather no job satisfaction. .

Herzberg believed that organizations should motivate employees by adopting a democratic approach to management and by improving the nature and content of the actual job through certain methods.

2.4 Equity Theory/Organizational Justice

Organizational justice is based on the idea that when people feel they are being treated fairly, and the treatment is valued, the expectancy that constructive work behaviours will be associated with desirable work outcomes increases (Latham & Pinder, 2005). Perceptions of inequity are expected to cause employees to take action to remedy the situation.

Equity theory rests upon three main assumptions (Carrell, 1978). First, the theory holds that people develop beliefs about what constitutes a fair and equitable return for their contributions to their jobs. Second, the theory assumes that people tend to compare what they perceive to be the exchange they have with their employers. Lastly, when people believe that their own treatment is not equitable, relative to the exchange they perceive others to be making, they will be motivated to take actions they deem appropriate.

The equity theory, developed by Adams (1975) explains about the people perceptions regarding the way they are treated in comparison with others. The theory states that people are highly motivated when they are fairly treated and less motivated when there is no equity between employees.

Equity theory identifies that individuals are concerned not only with the absolute amount of rewards they get for their efforts, but also with the relationship of this amount to what others receive. Based on one’s inputs, such as effort, experience and education, one can compare results such as salary levels, merit increment, recognition and other factors. When people perceive discrepancy in their outcome-input ratio relative to others, tension is created. This tension provides the basis for motivation as people strive for what they perceive as equity and fairness (Robbins, 1993).

How much we get paid relative to what we think we should be paid (distributive justice) is clearly significant. Procedural Justice is defined as the perceived fairness of the process used to determine the distribution of rewards. Two key elements of procedural justice are process control and explanations. Process control is the opportunity to present employees’ point of view about desired outcomes to decision makers. Explanations are the clear reasons management gives for the outcome. Hence, in order for employees to view it as a fair process, they need to feel they have some control over the outcome and that they were given a sufficient explanation about why the outcome occurred.

The latest addition to research on organizational justice is interactional justice, an individual’s perception of the degree to which he is treated with dignity, concern and respect. When people are treated in an unfair manner, they retaliate.

In Equity theory, distributive justice is most strongly related to organizational commitment and satisfaction with outcomes such as pay. Procedural justice relates most strongly to job satisfaction, employee trust and job performance

2.5 Compare / Review of the factors

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is not universally applicable across cultures. According to Arnold et al, Maslow’s work was found to lack experimental substance when researches attempted to validate it, and certainly later theories of motivation seem to adopt a different approach.

Criticisms of Maslow’s theory consist of the following:

Hierarchy cannot be considered as rigid. For some individuals, the levels may not be so straight forward and may usually overlap.

Some individuals may be short of aspiration and may stay at the main levels of the hierarchy concerned only with physiological and safety needs.

The Hierarchy of needs may not be applicable to everyone.

A single need cannot motivate an employee. There may be several factors, and it might be in different combinations.

Herzberg’s Two-factor Theory presumed a relationship between satisfaction and productivity, but the research methodology he used focused only at satisfaction and neglect productivity. No overall evaluation of satisfaction was utilized. When things are going well, people usually take credit themselves. Perversely, they blame failure on the external environment.

Pritchard (1969) attacked equity theory for lack of precision regarding how people identify their inputs, outputs and comparison others. The drawback of equity theory is that it has not accounted for individual differences and different cultures.

2.6 Research framework

In conclusion, I feel that Herzberg’s Two-factor Theory best suits my proposal research report. Hence, I have recognised the following factors that affect motivation: ‘Pay / Benefits, Recognition and Opportunities for Personal growth’.

Chapter 3 - Research Methodology Design – 1700 words (approximate)

3.1 Research Question and Research Objectives

The research question will be using the quantitative method to identify the factors that motivate employees in Vital to work.

Question 1: How long have you been with Vital?

The reason to ask this question is to investigate the employees’ retention rate in Vital.

If the employees’ retention rate is low, it proves that Vital is not a good place to work as many people will leave the organization and vice versa.

Question 2: For the work I do, I am fairly paid / Question 3: From what I heard, our benefits are as good as or better than the benefits in other organizations

One of the extrinsic factor to check the motivation level of employees is salary and benefits. The reason to ask this question is to check how this variable helps to motivate the employees in Vital. Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 4: My work schedule allows sufficient flexibility to meet my personal / family needs

This is to investigate the work-life balance programs in Vital such as flexible working hours and telework. McDonald et al. (2005) suggest that employees working flexible hours may enable organizations to keep up with a workload that is inherently variable throughout the year; flexible working arrangements may invoke the principle of reciprocity, wherein employees work extra hours during peak times in exchange for the ability to tailor their hours to suit their own needs at other times. Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 5: My job provides me with good opportunities to learn new skills & knowledge

Routine work may cause discontentment to employees, and they might get sick/bored of their work. If they are doing the same work for more than 1-2 years, they might consider leaving the organization as the job is too routine and it will eventually cause job dissatisfaction. If employees are given ample opportunities to learn new skills, they will not feel bored of their job and will feel a sense of job satisfaction. Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 6: I believe I have the opportunities for Personal development & growth in Vital

Herzberg two-factor theory states that opportunities for personal growth are motivational factors that motivate employees’ in the job. Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 7: My work gives me a sense of personal accomplishment

If employees feel that his work will give him a sense of personal accomplishment, he will feel motivated and even committed to work harder. E.g. receiving email praise from their customers. When people attain their goals, they not only feel satisfied, they generalize their positive effect to the task (Locke & Katham, 1990). Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 8: Are you satisfied with your status in the company?

One of the important extrinsic factor that plays the role in motivation of employees is their status and designation in organization. This variable motivate employee in that manner that how much authority they have at work place? Employees get satisfied with their rank, authority and responsibility given to them according to their skills and education. Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 9: I think Vital offers long-term career opportunities for me.

If employees feel that Vital are not able to offer them a long-term career opportunities, they might want to leave the organization. There is a lack of motivation to allow them to continue to stay in Vital. Respondents’ responses were evaluated on five likert scales.

Question 10: which of the following statements best describe your current situation?

This is to investigate the respondent’s willingness to continue to stay in Vital. Organizations are very highly concerned about employee retention over the next 12 months especially when Vital is relocating to another location next year. Employees’ turnover is the most concern of management because it is costly to re-train new staff.

Question 11: If you have a choice, how longer will you be working for Vital?

To investigate whether employees are thinking of continue to stay in Vital and roughly how long they will continue to work there in the short-run. Employees who expect to remain in the job for the next three years will be motivated to cognitively adjust to payment inequities while those who have external labor market opportunities will have the least incentive to adjust in this manner (Watson et al, 1996).

Question 12: What suggestions would you offer to improve Vital as a place to work?

This suggestion will provide recommendations to improve employees’ retention and motivation. If management takes into account the recommendations from employees’, employees will feel motivated as they feel that their suggestions are taken into account.

3.2 Research Design Discussion

There are 4 types of collection methods, which are Questionnaire Surveys, Interviews, Observation and content analysis.

Questionnaires are perhaps the most widely used research tool. They are attractive because they require minimal resources; inexpensive and can provide a large sample. Questionnaires supply standardized answers, to the extent that all respondents are posed with exactly the same questions. The data collected, then, are very unlikely to be contaminated through variations in the wording of the questions or the manner in which the question is asked. There is little scope for the data to be affected by interpersonal factors. It also encourages pre-corded answers. Questionnaires work best with standardised questions that you can be confident will be interpreted the same way by all respondents (Robson 2011).

However, Saunders et al (2007, pp354-99) warn that questionnaires are not easy to design, administer and interpret. The disadvantages of questionnaires are that it might have poor response rate, incomplete or poorly completed answers and we cannot check the truth of answers.

Analytical research will enable the researcher to examine and explain the relationship between variables.

Suitably of Questionnaire

We choose questionnaires as there is a need for standardized data from identical questions – without requiring personal, face-to-face interaction.

3.3 Data Collection

 I would conduct an online survey of approximately 100 employees which is 20% of Vital’s staff strength from different departments / different age groups etc to get more comprehensive results via online website at googledocs. There are 12 questions in the questionnaire.

The Likert scale was used for the collection of data. Likert scale is basically a 5-point scale (Strongly Agree = 5, Agree = 4, Neutral = 3, Disagree = 2, strongly disagree = 1) which consists of values from 5 to 1. (Likert, 1932)

I will contact the 100 recipients via email and advise them that they will be expecting a questionnaire from me in a few days time. Next, I will email the hyperlink to the questionnaire with a covering email.

I will email the first follow-up one week after emailing out the questionnaire to all recipients. This should thank early respondents and remind non-respondents to answer with a copy of the hyperlink being attached.

If there is no response after three weeks, I will send a second reminder. The covering email should be reworded to further emphasize the importance of completing the questionnaire. If time allows or the response rate is still low, I will also use a third follow-up with the recipients.

Ms Excel 2007 was implemented to get the results. Means and Standard Deviations was calculated, that provided us a broader view of the data, how much people are satisfied and up to what extent the psychology of employees differ in a work environment. Regression analysis was carried out to determine the effect of independent variables on dependent variables.

Aftermaths, I will retrieve the statistics from googledocs and analyze the results through graphs and pie charts so as to do a comparison between the data that I have collected. This would help me to understand the similarities and differences in the motivational factors between different departments as well as in different age groups. From there, I will provide recommendations for them to review and implement if necessary.

3.4 Managing Access

Cognitive access will be required in this case as I would need to gain the approval within the organization (in this case will be the Human Resource personnel) to gain access to the data which they are able to provide. Where I achieve this, I will have gained access to the data that I need the HR to share with me in order for me to be able to address my research question and objectives.

3.5 Unit Of Information

The Unit of observation were the employees from Vital in Singapore. The sample includes all categories of employees.

3.6 Selecting your research participants (sampling)

We have conducted research to find motivation level of employees in Vital.

We use Probability Sampling in determine sampling size at

Probability sampling associates most commonly with survey research strategies where I need to make inferences from my sample about a population.

A probability sample would ensure that everyone who works in Vital has an equivalent chance of being surveyed. Fundamentally, probability sampling means that respondents are chosen at random, and everyone has an equivalent opportunity to participate in this research.

3.7 Response Rate

A total of 100 questionnaires were distributed out for which a response rate of 75 per cent is anticipated.

3.8 Data Analysis

Data was analyzed and interpreted using Qualitative analysis technique. Data that is collected by questionnaire will be collated into a single Excel spreadsheet. The functions of Excel will then be used for data presentation and data analysis. The data for each question will be summarized using either bar charts or tables.

First, correlation will be used to determine the relationship between age and employee retention (i.e. how long have you been with Vital?).

Next, correlation will be used to determine the relationship between age and salary (i.e. for the work I do, I am fairly paid) and relationship between age and benefits (i.e. from what I heard, our benefits are as good as or better than the benefits in other organizations).

Pay, in my opinion, is considered an important motivation force that decides the employee decision as to how good their contribution to the organization will be. Employees might leave the organization if they feel that they are being underpaid. In a statement, Mr Han Neng Hsiu, a senior director in the PSD said: 'PSD has selectively made salary adjustments for some generic schemes of service in February 2012 to close the gaps with the market and ensure that salaries remain competitive.' In Vital, majority of the employees will receive a 5% to 15% increment in their salary and this might even help to retain the critical employees. Government sector pay might not be as competitive to private sector and the annual increment only ranges from 3% to 5%. According to Thierry (1992), pay is often seen as the vehicle that leads to the satisfaction of a specific motive or goal. Pay is expected to provide more security, more status, less anxiety, and more recognition.

Benefits are a critical part of employee motivation as employees will normally view it as a whole package. Vital, as part of the Public sector, offers a comprehensive benefits package for all officers that includes flexible work policies, leave, medical and dental benefits, and employee support schemes, to meet your personal needs and assist our employees in maintaining a healthy work-life balance and support the Government’s emphasis on the family.

Correlation will be used to determine the relationship between age and recognition / opportunities for personal growth for each individual question. Recognition questions are, ‘My work schedule allows sufficient flexibility to meet my personal / family needs, my job provides me with good opportunities to learn new skills & knowledge, I believe I have the opportunities for personal development & growth in Vital.’

Recognition questions are, ‘My work gives me a sense of personal accomplishment, are you satisfied with your status in the company and I think Vital offers long-term career opportunities for me’

Correlation will be used to determine the relationship between age and the current situation of employees (i.e. which of the following statements best describe your current situation?).

Correlation will be used to determine the relationship between current job level and the current status in the company (i.e. are you satisfied with your status in the company?).

Next, I will do a bar chart to analyze the question, ‘If you have a choice, how longer will you be working with Vital?’ After that, correlation will be used to determine the relationship between the willingness to stay in the organization and age.

Lastly, suggestions to make Vital a better place to work will be analyzed through bar charts and from there; we are able to make recommendations to management which is also one of the proposal objective.

4.0 Conclusion

4.1 Summary

In investigating the relationship that exist between organizational culture, motivation and performance sought to address the following objectives; investigate the factors that contribute to work motivation, examine the relationship between motivational factors and employees’ motivation in Vital and provides recommendations to reduce high employees’ turnover rate.

In order to make employees work efficiently and produce beneficial results to the organization, managers have to understand human behavior. Motivation is an important part of understanding behavior and is a tool with which managers can use in organizations to make people do what they want. The biggest problem that businesses are facing today is how to motivate the employees in order to get best from them.

If the organization wants to motivate employees, Herzberg suggested emphasizing factors associated with the work itself or with outcomes directly resulted from it, such as promotional opportunities, personal growth opportunities, recognition, responsibility, and achievement.

Employees believe that organizational efficiency increases with the increase in the motivational level of employees and that better motivation decreases the attrition rate of employees in the company.

4.1 Possible Outcomes

Implementation of Employee benefit programmes has a greater impact on work-motivation than on productivity. Rewards are very important for employees, in the absence of rewards the motivation level of the employees will fall sharply. In order to keep the motivation level of employees’, effective reward system should be put in place.

The correlation exists positively both between monetary rewards and motivation, non-monetary rewards and motivation, but the higher correlation exists between monetary rewards and motivation than non-monetary rewards and motivation.

The correlation will also exists positively both between recognition and motivation, opportunities for personal growth and motivation. If employees are being recognized in the job, they will feel motivated to work harder. Likewise, if employees are being given opportunities for personal growth within Vital, they will more likely to stay in the organization to progress.

Employees’ continuous growth, favorable compensation and benefits, and work-life balance are some of the important motivational factors to drive employees to perform better, produce high-quality results for the customers and ultimately, the company.

Better motivation of employees results in an efficient workforce and it eventually increases the overall efficiency or productivity of the organization.

Limitation & Suggestions for Future Research

This study contains some limitations. First, the time taken of carrying out this research was short as a result of which many factors such as communication may be unexplored. Second, there is a lack of resources, so it was not feasible to conduct the survey at large level. Third, there are only a small number of respondents: only 100 employees have been randomly chosen. Lastly, the respondents might feel unwilling to fill up the questionnaire due to lack of time or might feel troublesome.

Further Research

To enhance the prospect of generalizing the findings of the current study, it is necessary to expand the scope in terms of the sample size and the selection strategy.

Further research into retaining employees in Vital should be undertaken in order to generalise the findings. Last but not least, the role of leadership should also be investigated more thoroughly.