Rethinking the policies – Motivation and managing diversity

Introduction

Rapid changes continue to take shape within the work environment in the contemporary UK. This is increasing workforce diversity, which is forcing organizations to rethink and amend their existing internal policies. Therefore, the relationship between motivation and diversity is an imperative factor that any UK organization should consider. This paper critically analyzes various theories on how UK organizations can motivate their staff while at the same time creating an effective workforce that reflects the core principles of management of diversity.

Towards this end, this paper explores aspects of different organizational policies for different groups of workers. It also assesses various core principles of management diversity in light of efforts to create organizational policies in the UK. Moreover, the benefits of teamwork when employing a diverse workforce are analyzed. Moreover, the issue of inequality and discrimination is highlighted in light of various behavioral contexts as well as the legislation that touches on the management of diversity.

Theories of staff motivation: Ways in which UK organizations can use them to motivate staff

There are many theories of staff motivation. One of them is Herzberg’s two-factor theory. This theory was developed by Frederick Herzberg, a psychologist. The theory focuses on work environment, hence its appropriateness for the present study. According to Herzberg, the factors that relate to employee motivation can be grouped into two categories: motivational factors and hygiene factors. Motivational factors are those that relate to the content of the job itself, and they include recognition, achievement, involvement, advancement, and responsibility. Hygiene factors, on the other hand, relate to the work setting as opposed to the content of the work, and they include safe and comfortable working conditions, adequate wages, job security, and fair company policies.

When motivational factors are absent, the employees may become dissatisfied. In contrast, their presence motivates employees to pursue excellence. Hygiene factors, on the other hand, are not necessarily motivators of excellence among employees. However, when they are absent, there is a high likelihood of employees becoming dissatisfied, leading to high turnover. Hygiene factors are a symbol of physiological needs that individuals expect will be fulfilled by the work. Ordinarily, an employee will expect a good pay, friendly company and administrative policies, safe working conditions, fringe benefits, interpersonal relations, status, and job security.

Herzberg’s two-factor theory provides crucial insights on how to motivate employees in a way that leads to proper management of diversity, particularly in the UK context. In this regard, the impression created is that it is imperative to focus first and foremost on motivational factors, since they have a more direct impact on employee satisfaction. Once motivational factors have been put into consideration, gradual organizational changes may be carried out to address the hygiene factors.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, on the other hand, views motivation from the perspective of human needs. These needs, according to Maslow, can be mapped into a hierarchical triangle. At the bottom of the triangle, there are basic needs, which must be satisfied before an individual can ‘climb’ through the triangle to achieve higher-level needs. The most basic of them are physiological needs, such as thirst, hunger, and sleep. They are followed by safety needs, such as protection from danger and security. Once safety needs are satisfied, the individual clamors for social needs, such as love, friendship, and group membership. In the next level in the hierarchy, there are esteem needs such as self-respect, recognition, and appreciation. People who have had these needs satisfied now feel the desire to achieve self-actualization, which forms the highest level of the hierarchy-of-needs triangle.

An understanding of the hierarchy of needs as suggested by Maslow is imperative for managers who operate in workplaces characterized by high levels of workplace diversity such as the UK. In such an environment of workplace diversity, it is normal for the managers to work with employees who are in different stages as far as hierarchy of needs is concerned. In fact, the differences in the employees’ needs constitute one of most defining aspects of workplace diversity.

Moreover, there are many similarities between the motivational factors identified in Herzberg’s two-factor theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. This similarity has greatly contributed to efforts aimed ensuring that appropriate practices are entrenched in the UK workplace settings to ensure that all employees’ needs are satisfied in spite of the diverse environments in which they work. In some instances, government agencies step in to provide the appropriate regulatory framework. For example, the low-level needs of workers such as security and physiological needs have to a large extent been satisfied through occupational-safety standards and minimum-wage laws set up by different government agencies. This has created a scenario where management, in efforts to improve productivity, focuses largely on the satisfaction of high-level needs (which in Herzberg’s theory are called motivational factors) by providing numerous opportunities for involvement, advancement, achievement, and recognition of excellent performance.

Core principles of management of diversity and their role in creation of organizational policies in the UK

Diversity is the variety of human perspectives and experiences arising from differences in culture, race, religion, heritage, gender, age, sexual orientation, mental or physical abilities, and other characteristics. It is the norm in many UK workplaces for policies to contain explicit statements that prohibit any harassment or discrimination against an employee or a person seeking employment on the basis of his or her national origin, color, race, gender, pregnancy, sex, medical condition, marital status, citizenship, ancestry, and many other human characteristics that reflect diversity.

However, these explicit statements of prohibitions of discrimination against certain employees or even harassment have not quite succeeded in cementing proper management of diversity in the UK workplace. In this regard, there is need for organizations to put in place principles that would form the foundation of management of diversity. These principles would be of great importance in creating organizational policies that are all-inclusive as far as workplace diversity is concerned.

To address diversity issues in the best way, it is imperative to focus on which policies, practices, and lines of thinking within the existing organizational culture would have a differential impact on different groups. It is also important to think about the organizational changes that need to be made in order for diverse workforce’s needs to be met while at the same time maximizing potential for all workers. In this regard, one of the core principles of management of diversity is equality.

While endeavoring to achieve the goal of equality, management professionals have to be alive to the fact that different employees are in different levels in terms of hierarchy of needs. Therefore, the same values mean different things depending on the needs that are motivating the individual in his or her workplace. In essence, it is true that we share similar values, for example the need for recognition and respect. However, the way these values are shown through behavior is different for different individuals or groups. For this reason, it is important to understand and appreciate the diverse ways through which the same values can be expressed differently to different groups within the organization.

In essence expressing core human values in the way that each diverse group expects is perhaps the most enduring principle of diversity management. This is mainly because it greatly reduces the likelihood of dissatisfaction, a feeling of isolation and discrimination, and eventual resistance. As Dick (2002, p. 965) observes, it is a serious mistake to make rather naïve assumptions regarding the aspirations and experiences of diverse groups, particularly the disadvantaged.

This tendency to make assumptions regarding diverse groups has even been reinforced in literature, where there is too much association between diversity in the workplace and the culture of resistance (Dick 2002, p. 968). According to Dick (2002, p. 969), one of the most common assumption in this regard is that both the ‘subordinated’ and ‘dominant’ groups in the UK largely oppose initiatives aimed at improving the management of diversity.

Apart from equality, multidimensionality is a key principle that should always be put into consideration in creating organizational policies that address workplace diversity. The various dimensions that need to be incorporated into this principle include legal provisions, organization-centered regulations, and requirements of employees in terms of issues relating to motivation and working conditions.

According to Tatli (2010, p. 242), the best way to look at diversity management in the UK is through reference to the multi-dimensional approach. Tatli also points out to the shortcoming of current diversity research, which focuses almost entirely on single-level analyses. This research also faces the major drawback of creating polarization between mainstream and critical approaches to the management of diversity. In addressing multidimensionality, three core constituents should be put into consideration: diversity practitioners, diversity discourse, and diversity practice.

Benefits of team within a diverse workforce

Literature on the management of diversity provides numerous insights into the benefits that are gained through teamwork in a diverse environment. Working environments where teamwork is a major aspect of day-to-day operations tend to nurture a culture of inclusiveness. In such workplaces, the needs of every individual are likely to be appreciated in a better way. This increases the likelihood of these needs being met. When these needs are met, there is greater workplace satisfaction, which leads to a lower employee turnover rate.

In an environment of inclusiveness, the hygiene needs as stipulated by Herzberg are easily met. In this regard, the workplace becomes stable, respect prevails, productivity increases, there is innovation, and each employee feels energized to undertake his or her role satisfactorily.  Regarding respect people traditionally obtain respect largely based on the nature of work that the company hired them to do. Although this is still the case today, literature shows that many employees in the UK are increasingly equating workplace respect with explicit and open appreciation and acknowledgment of their background, their knowledge, and their broader experiences. In other words, there is increased emphasis on respect for no just what the employee does but also for who he is.

Teamwork efforts facilitate the establishment of trust and a sense of reassurance among employees. Moreover, it reduces incidences of harassment, insubordination, and bullying. In essence, workplace conflicts are drastically reduced, thereby giving employees ample time to focus primarily on ways of improving productivity. Such workplaces are highly likely to achieve stability, leading to fewer incidences of costly employee turnover.

Inequality and discrimination in relation to diversity management in the UK workplace: aspects of legislation

Inequality and discrimination in the UK workplace take many forms, both direct and indirect. For example, in this multiracial society, racial inequality and discrimination at the workplace continues to be a major problem despite legislation aimed at curbing this social ill. Managers have had to respond to this challenge whenever it emerges, sometimes through trade union activism and lawsuits. Whenever such situations arise, senior company executives are forced to appreciate the importance of understanding the appropriate legal provisions and how they can be used to deal with the problem of workplace inequality and discrimination.

Moreover, although the world is moving towards globalization, there are subtle differences between responses to inequality and discrimination in the UK, for example by trade unions, and those in other countries. For example, in the UK union policies towards ethnic minority and immigrant workers emphasize on structures of exclusion and racism while in Denmark, the policies focus primarily on communication, education, and awareness-raising efforts (Wrench 2004, p. 18). Ultimately, the long-term impact of these national differences manifests themselves in differences in the laws established to deal with these problems.

One of the main ways through which inequality and discrimination manifest themselves in the UK workplace is sexual harassment. According to Samuels (2003, p. 480), stereotypical ideas about women are normally used as a justification to sexual harassment in the UK workplace. This trend has triggered efforts by feminists to use embark on efforts to discuss laws relating to sexual harassment from a feminist point of view.  Some of the feminist conceptions of sexual harassment propound the view that claims about women being sexually harassed tend to be ignored or suppressed through the use of concepts of ‘being unwelcome’ and ‘unreasonable’ and attributing them to the contexts in which women are sexually harassed.

The notion of workplace harassment, and sometimes ‘workplace bullying’ was exhaustively dwelt on in literature during the 1990s, not just in reference to the UK but also in reference to the context of different Scandinavian countries. It was interpreted to mean persistent, abusive, intimidating, offensive, insulting, and malicious behavior as well as unfair penal sanctions and abuse of power, which make the victim feel threatened, extremely upset, vulnerable, and humiliated, thereby eroding their self-confidence and sometimes even triggering stress. Various manifestations of workplace bullying in the UK have been discussed in great detail in trade union publications, media presentations, and academic discussions.

In some of these discussions, a debate has been going on regarding whether workplace bullying in the UK should be treated as a new problem or as a reinterpretation of an existing problem (Samuels 2003, p. 480). In Samuel’s view, it is imperative for researchers to draw qualitative evidence from interviews with individuals who have been victims of workplace bullying in the discussion the workers’ understanding of the notion of workplace bullying. In his study, Samuels (2003, p. 481) concludes that the concept of workplace bullying is a source of a helpful interpretation as far as unfair practices are concerned. However, the current emphasis on harmful, persistent experiences appears to be problematic (Samuels 2003, p. 481).

From a legal perspective, it is evident that the UK government has been endeavoring to put in place laws that prohibit as well as punish all forms of workplace harassment. For instance, new laws have already been enacted that focus on extending sex discrimination protection rules in such a way that they cover sexual harassment. In this law, it is explicitly acknowledged that it is usually difficult to prove that sexual harassment has taken place. The law focuses on addressing this problem as one of the crucial ways of encouraging all stakeholders to play a critical role in diversity management.

In the amended Sex Discrimination Act 1975, there is a lot of emphasis on the circumstances under which a woman can claim to have been subjected to different forms of harassment, including sexual harassment. Issues of violation of her dignity, creation of a hostile, intimidating, humiliating, degrading, or offensive environment are also addressed. In these violations, the act stipulates that unwanted verbal and non-verbal conduct may play a key role in the harassment particularly if the purpose of these acts is to violate her dignity.

It is upon organizations to oversee strict adherence to the provisions of laws such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Such an effort would go a long way in enabling the organization achieve the goal of diversity management. Staff members would feel motivated to work hard for the company if the top management expressed willingness to embrace diversity in its aspects, including sex, race, age, disability, social class, and even sexual orientation.

The best organizational policies would be those that nurture a culture of strict adherence to the existing laws on diversity management. In this undertaking, the top management should provide leadership. For instance, in a company where the chief executive officer promises to promote the company receptionist if she accepts to go out with him during the weekend, many employees are highly like to get wind of the CEO’s behavior and emulate such practices. The reputation for the CEO would particularly be tainted if the receptionist admits to having sex with the top executive against her wish. Moreover, such a CEO would have a difficult time demonstrating to everyone in the organization that the company’s principles of management should be adhered to. This is because of failure to set example by taking advantage of the lower-cadre employees.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the contemporary work environment in the UK is one that is characterized by increasing workforce diversity. This scenario has forced organizations across the country to rethink their diversity management policies. When properly selected, such policies can greatly lead to motivation among employees since they nurture a culture of all-inclusiveness.

There are many theories that address this issue and two main ones include Herzberg’s two-factor theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. These two theories are crucial in our understanding of diversity management mainly because of the way they address the various factors that motivate employees in their day-to-day workplace undertakings. The most crucial finding derived from the analysis of these two theories is that those who spearhead diversity management efforts should understand what motivate people working in different workforce categories.

The stimulus presented to various employees should be one that will facilitate the fulfillment of their most crucial needs. There is no such a thing as a one-size-fits-all kind of corporate arrangement as far as equal opportunities are concerned. Using this same principle, it is evident that the best organizational policy is one that encourages adherence to law while at the same time responding to the needs of different individuals. This approach can easily create the right environment for the achievement of success in diversity management.

 

References

Dick, P, 2002, ‘Barriers to Managing Diversity in a UK Constabulary: The Role of Discourse’, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 39, No. 7, pp. 953–976.

Samuels, H, 2003, ‘Sexual harassment in the workplace: a feminist analysis of recent developments in the UK’, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 26, No. 5, pp. 467–482.

Tatli, A, 2010, ‘A Multi-layered Exploration of the Diversity Management Field: Diversity Discourses, Practices and Practitioners in the UK’, British Journal of Management, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 238–253.

Wrench, J, 2004, ‘Trade Union Responses to Immigrants and Ethnic Inequality in Denmark and the UK: the Context of Consensus and Conflict’, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 7-30.

 

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