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Motivated not to work?

The news

What motivates us at work?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's 2009 Absence Management survey, found 56% of organisations use flexible working to manage long-term absence, and 44% use it to manage short-term absence.

The Work Foundation indicate that managers believe that flexible working can stop rising employee absence, by allowing workers the time off to deal with personal emotional and family issues such as stress and childcare, without having to resort to calling in sick.

One-fifth of respondents to the CIPD survey reported seeing an increase in the number of people coming into work ill over the past year, which could be attributed to employees' concerns about losing their job during the recession.

James Baker, a consultant in The Work Foundation's health and wellbeing programme, says: "There are lots of approaches to flexible working that may suit organisations, but not necessarily individual employees. We are seeing some of that in the current recession, where organisations are going to a four-day week, for example."

In practice

Marcia took up homeworking last year. She says: "I've been home working for eight months and it's wonderful. It fits around my children. I'm a lone parent with a teenager and I felt I needed more presence at home. I needed to keep an eye on things. I've also got two young children at school and I'm a school governor as well. I'm able to fit in all my commitments around my work. I work better at home. I now log on to my computer at 7.45am each day, whereas I would have been at my desk at ten. I work harder and longer at home. I also don't shout at the children as much!"

Richard coaches engineers: "I have two children aged five and seven and I'm getting married this year to my partner who also has two children. Childcare issues are incredibly important to me and so flexibility is paramount. I also had a heart attack last year, so I need to keep my stress levels as low as possible. Flexible working means that I don't have to worry about my children, I am not stressed at all in the way I was in the past. I know that I can work at home when I need to. In fact I work harder at home. Flexible working has been brilliant."

Tony is a customer service engineer who now works his full hours over four days. He says: "Working a four-day week allows me to go to my son's school plays and be a proper parent. I win because I get the time off when it's needed and the company benefits because they get engineers in general to work a longer day and complete tasks considered unfeasible in the past."


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Read the article Health & Wellbeing: Flexible working can reduce staff absence (you can do this in the window below or follow the previous link to read the article in a separate window) and then consider answers to the questions below.

Included in the article is an excellent case study about how Kellogg's deal with absence issues.

The theory

This article considers the area of motivation and you need to be aware of how to use this important topic in the context of the questions asked. First, we need to think about what we should know about the theorists who have tried to put down on paper just how people perform in a work environment. Follow the links below to consider the various motivation theories in more detail.





Motivation in exams

The role of financial incentives

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Motivation questions

  1. Explain why an employer needs to think about the work of Maslow when thinking about the motivation of employees
  2. Outline some of the non-financial incentives the Work Foundation mention in the above extract.
  3. Examine how the adoption of Herzberg's ideas improve employee motivation
  4. To what extent do we over-estimate the importance of financial incentives when motivating employees?

Suggested answers