The workplace, ever-changing, is no longer viewed in the same way. Budgetary restraints, interdepartmental poaching, and the global economy have created a competitive environment within law enforcement never seen before.
“Earlier researchers believed that money was the motivation for employee morale.”
Creating a system of employee loyalty is creating the ideal work environment. The study of employee motivation has evolved over the past 50 years. Earlier researchers believed that money was the motivation for employee morale. As challenges persisted that did not solve this dilemma, new theories emerged.
The most popular theory being the “Hierarchy of Needs” postulated by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow contended that man is a wanting animal. As soon as one need has been satisfied another one moves in to take its place. Consequently, human beings are constantly striving to realize their full potential or “self-actualization.” The complexity to understand human motivation, generally, and employee motivation, specifically, has led to the extraction of past theories fusing with changing times and situations. Fundamentally, there is no one theory that assumes to represent all employee motivation. Dr. Angela M. Bowey, in her article “Motivation At Work: A Key Issue in Remuneration,” talks about a prevailing theory called the “Contingency Theory”. Under the Contingency Theory, management would not focus on one element of employee motivation, but would be open for the myriad of motivational factors in a department including pay, time off, and career development.
Furthermore, what might work for one company might not work for another. A Metro Atlanta Police survey conducted by Edward S. Brown International, Inc., a success development company, revealed some interesting findings. The hypothesis was that there is a morale problem in many, if not most, police departments in the Metro Atlanta area. The company contracted an independent statistician, Patrick Minor, who had worked closely with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to formulate the survey and report the findings. One hundred ninety one officers were surveyed within the City of Atlanta Police department. Various questions were asked to analyze the areas where the morale problems originated. The study provided the following results:
· 69.1% of Atlanta Officers said they like their job.
· 33.5% said that supervisors take interest in their opinions.
· 40.8% felt that they made a difference.
· 84.8% felt that they are not adequately recognized.
· 59.2% disagreed that attitude in the department is pretty good.
Officers in Atlanta concluded that there is a morale problem, although they like their job. This suggests that liking the job is not synonymous with good morale. Atlanta officers ranked in order of priority what they thought would improve morale:
· Provide motivational training
· Provide management training
· Give more recognition
· Provide career development assistance
· Provide salary increase
· Provide personal time off
In this survey, it was the organizational environment that was the source of discontentment. Studies consistently show that the workplace is the determining factor of employee loyalty. Employees overwhelmingly state that the most important criteria involve issues such as recognition, professional development, incentives, respect, and flexibility as the catalyst for improved morale and productivity. Yet, many departments consistently overlook these factors. The employees are talking, but many departments are not listening.
As stated, employees are often motivated by the intangible elements such as praise over the tangible elements such as money. As humans, we often make decisions based on our emotions more often than our reason. We act on emotion and then justify our actions based on reason. Money becomes an overarching objective when the intangible rewards are not in place. Department heads should not burden themselves in attempting to be mind readers. They need only ask their employees and understand basic human motivation.
The list of items that people are motivated by — taken from David A. People’s, Presentation Plus (Georgia: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992) — can be numerous, but some of the basics are:
· Health · Pain
· Money · Safety
· Exclusivity · Enjoyment
· Trouble · Time
· Family · Love · Sex · Comfort
· Control · Fame/Glory
Although there are numerous factors that employees may be motivated by, it would not be unwise to consider a few areas of concentration that employees tend to focus on. These items tend to be recognition and incentives, flexible schedules with amenable time-off, career development, comparable salary, and personal and professional development. These factors should be considered in the mission statement as part of the department's infrastructure. Once the internal environment has been established, its effectiveness will be manifested in its external environment. Consequently, if a desirable work environment has been created, it will be reflected in better deliverables and services with special emphasis on customer service.