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Introduction

Job and role are interrelated as a job means the role that an individual has in an institution or an organization while work refers to the means to fulfill the stipulated roles. Job satisfaction can only come if the role is clear, and the person who performs the role is well aware of the responsibilities required to fulfill the roles. Work satisfaction pertains more to the work environment, people, boss, and everyday actions. In the other words' job is the big strategic picture and work is the tactical element of delivering that strategy. A satisfied workforce feels positive about roles and responsibilities given the results of the evaluation process and the characteristics of the whole experience.

Employees are an organization’s most important asset as they ultimately determine organizational success or failure. Every organization understands the importance of experienced and good employees. Therefore, it is very essential to retain such employees and ensure they are happy in their current jobs and motivated in their roles. This paper describes the background of the organization, its structure, the culture, and the environment. Most significantly, this research paper will focus on job satisfaction issues at the firm McGladrey in a bid to justify the importance of instituting job satisfaction programs at any given institution.

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McGladrey is a licensed CPA firm, which was created by Ira McGladrey in 1926. Now it is a nationwide company with nearly 6,500 professionals and associates in more than 70 offices. McGladrey is the fifth largest US provider of assurance, tax, and consulting services. It is the US member of RSM International, the sixth largest network of independent accounting, tax and consulting firms worldwide, with offices in more than 85 countries and more than 32,000 people to serve the clientele business needs. The company’s practice areas include assurance, tax, consulting, and wealth management.

Having worked at the firm as an accountant, I was able to make a personal observation of employee programs within the firm. During the non - busy season, employees worked the same-routing schedules and completed the same accounting tasks on a daily basis. In addition, the firm has various locations were within the United States from which clients have the option to schedule appointments and interact with accountants face-to face. The clients can also talk to the accountant over the phone or turn in documents via fax or mail.

The busiest time for the company comes during the tax season. During this time, accountants have to maintain their monthly and quarterly accounts, as well as, processing business and individual tax returns. During the tax season that lasts for 3 months, the company earns more revenues than in any other quarter during the year. It is the most stressful time of the year for McGladrey and employees. Hence, the study of employee job satisfaction would be best addressed by considering the time when employees have the busy work schedule.

The firm ordered tablets from AT & T for its 6,500 employees to facilitate their duties. According to McGladrey (2012) the purchase of the tablets for the employees was “to keep track of the tablets and protect data on employees’ devices.” The firm understands that the workforce should have access to real time information. The Chief Technology Officer, Mr. Rob Lewis that the new employee devices would help them serve clients better, recognizes this. The business leaders of the firm see the need to mobilize the entire workforce and equip them with devices that will not only be technologically relevant but also uses various platforms for enhancing service delivery. Through the devices, the employees can seek help from the service desk. McGladrey faces a number of employee job satisfaction challenges which are relevant to this research.

The changing landscape in people’s management has called for the initiation and implementation of a number of strategies aimed at improving the levels of organizational performance. The role of people as a key ingredient in the realization of organizational objectives forms the main reason behind greatest attachment to their well being. A dissection of literature on HRM indicates that a number of companies employ various perspectives to achieve higher levels of employee satisfaction. An insightful research study presented by Abdulla, Djebarni & Mellahi (2010) indicates that employees of the public sector in a company achieve job satisfaction through salary and incentives, variety of tasks, public perceptions, organizational policy and strategies, and relationship with co-workers. On the other hand, a related study by Gould-Williams & Mohamed (2010) on England and Malaysia illustrates that employee satisfaction is geared towards the attainment of higher levels of job satisfaction. It is within this perspective that a number of researchers point out at the role of human resource in enhancing organizational climate. According to Abdulla, Djebarni & Mellahi (2010), developing a universal HRM practice for all of the employees has positive effects on organizational climate, which in turn leads to job satisfaction, OCB and higher level of individual performance.

A universal approach to HRM thus forms a very critical part that defines whether an organization will improve on individual performance and overall achievement of organizational aims and objectives. The role Human resource management in influencing the general strategic direction adopted by companies has been examined in literatures. This revolves around the significant role HRM plays in employee attraction and recruitment, key determinants of organizational foundation. Furthermore, HRM is critical in the management of an organization because it affects the strategy of an organization and determines the priorities of an organization. This revolves around the understanding that it is the department responsible for the development of the needs of the employees, takes the lead on how people foster acceptance of the change process and change management and affects the key performance outcomes that generate business success. Furthermore, the main focus of every manager in an organization is to develop an effective business model capable of achieving organizational objectives. The attainment of these objectives calls for clear development of the key mechanisms in achieving a universal approach to HRM. A look at emerging trends in management decisions linked to improvement in employee performance illustrates that most companies are mushrooming towards universal HRM practices. This is because universal approach to HRM provides a bundle of benefits to organizations that form key determinants in employee performance improvement. This study seeks to examine the impact of universal HRM practice on individual level of performance.

Problem Area

Despite the fact that researchers have studied the role of universal HRM practice on new in a wider scope, many of the studies have centered on a limited range of issues that failed to explore the specific relationship between universal HRM practice and employee satisfaction and performance improvement.  In fact, effective approaches to people’s management and their links to overall improvement in employee performance constitute a key area in HRM. It is important to explore the link and the relationship between universal practices in HRM and employee productivity. The purpose of this research will examine how the universal HRM practice leads to increase in individual level of performance.

Problem Statement

The desire to improve employee levels of performance is deeply rooted in most organizations. The initiatives towards universal HRM is a product based upon the realization that satisfied employees may form the basis on which organizational objectives may be realized. Improving on the general welfare of employees can help organizations achieve their aims and objectives. Despite the fact most studies on this topic abide in the fact that universal HRM practices has the capacity to translate to a bundle of economic benefits  (Abdulla, Djebarni & Mellahi, 2010) and that better approach to employee management forms key to improvement in job satisfaction (Gould-Williams & Mohamed, 2010), it is apparent that comparative studies on the relationship between universal HRM and its outcomes are not fully exhausted in literature. One critical question that needs to be addressed is: Does a Universal HRM practice lead to increase of individual level of performance in different organizations of different countries?

Literature Review

Models of Job Satisfaction
Affect Theory

Edwin A. Locke’s Range of Affect Theory (1976) is perhaps the most common job satisfaction model. The main foundation of this theory is anchored on  satisfaction and it  is found  by a inconsistency between what one needs  in a job and what one has in a job. In addition, the theory explains  that the degree of  one values in a job  forms the aspect which explains satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Dispositional Theory

This theory states that individuals  have inborn dispositions that make them to have the trend toward a given  level of satisfaction, in spite of of a given  job. This theory became a notable clarification of job satisfaction in relation to the  evidence that workplace satisfaction is inclined  to be stable over a period of time and across careers and jobs.

Two-Factor Theory

Frederick Herzberg’s two factor theory strive  to illustrate the impact of  satisfaction and motivation in the workplace. This theory states that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are caused by different factors that is; motivation and hygiene factors. Motivational  factors are those activities  in a job that make employees  want to perform, and offer  people with satisfaction, for instance achievement in a job , recognition, promotion opportunities.

Job Characteristics model

Hackman & Oldham came up with  the Job Characteristics Model, which is mainly used as an outline to analyze  how particular job characteristics impact on job outcomes, including job satisfaction. The model stipulates that there are five core job characteristics which include skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback.The above mentioned outline has a significant influence on the  three important psychological status which is defined by experienced meaningfulness, experienced responsibility for outcomes, and knowledge of the actual results. It is prudent to note that, the above mentioned concepts  influences the  results of  job satisfaction, absenteeism and employee  work motivation.

Extensive Training, Learning and Development

The dynamics of changing business demographics and consumer purchasing patterns coupled with ever-stronger competition for better employee management has increased pressure on business enterprises to undertake performance appraisals geared towards gaining insights on critical areas of employee training that demand improvement. This is because people from the greatest asset to organizations and their contributions cannot be taken for granted. Rain, Lane & Steiner (1991) posit that the training process is “a process where employees learn about and adapt to new jobs, roles and the culture of the workplace”. Furthermore, the relationship between employee training and job satisfaction has been examined in literatures and there is abidance in the fact that well trained employees are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of job satisfaction.

In an examination of the link between employee performance and product quality, Green (2004) argues that training is an integral part in the achievement of higher levels of employee performance. This is because of its capacity to equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully undertake their duties and responsibilities. Green (2002) points out that companies have run into huge losses because of poorly trained managers. The authors argue that training forms a key part of in realizing profitability and achieving organizational objectives.

Guest, Michie, Conway & Sheehan (2003) point out that whereas literatures avail a number opportunities for employee performance improvement are available for companies; most companies have failed to achieve high levels of employee performance.  Furthermore, training is effective in business in a number of ways. They form the foundation through which employee loyalty to an organization can be enhanced through knowledge enhancement and job satisfaction. Most companies miss out the “important opportunity to gain employee loyalty through the continuous process of performance improvement through training” (Guest, Michie, Conway & Sheehan, 2003). The author proceeds to stress this point by succinctly stating, “at a time when the sales people are apt to evaluate their career options, companies can increase their retention and employee improvement by meaningfully engaging their salespeople more often through training”.

Armstrong (2007) explains training as “a process where employees learn about and adapt to new jobs, roles and the culture of the workplace”. Furthermore, great deals of literatures observe the fact that keen cognizance must be directed towards employee training because their performance and output are directly proportional to their levels of skills and knowledge. These are key determinants in levels of employee satisfaction and performance.  Mullins (2007) on the other hand summarizes the extent to which organization culture, behavior and management practices impacts on employee performances. The author posits that instilling a learning culture in an organization is an effective strategy to improve performance, employee loyalty, and high levels of satisfaction. The words of Mullins (2007) are echoed by a number of research literatures on the same topic. Green (2002) asserts the importance of employee training for the enhancement of employee productivity and product quality. However, despite the availability of rich sources of information as regards this topic, Stredwick (2005) observes that most organizations miss out this opportunity to achieve optimum levels in employee productivity and performances. The author argues that at a time when the current work settings and career demands call for the best in the delivery of skills, training forms one of the most practical  and available paths towards the realization of an all inclusive organization. In the view of the fact that most literatures abide in the positive role of training, others argue that training must not only be a culture, it must also seek to fill in gaps within organizations. The process of training must therefore be modelled to achieve specific objectives and therefore, enhance improvement in performance levels.

Leadership

The role of leadership in achieving strategic organizational objectives rests on the capacity of leadership to influence a wide range of approaches in articulating issues. Leadership approach as proposed by Ramsay, Scholarios & Harley (2000) that focuses on motivational approach empowers employees to make decisions without coercion and intimidation from superiors. This definition encompasses the capacity to develop working environments that support the culture of individual creativity and free will to influence the way decisions are made. Gaining insights on whether employees make decisions on their own free will or through informal influence depends on the strategies employed by a firm in its approaches to leadership. This is because of the significant role of leadership in employee attitudes towards work and job satisfaction. Leadership also forms a key that through which employees may be empowered with necessary skills in adjusting to their work demands. This mode lays a lot of emphasis on individual growth because it focuses on empowering employees to be self reliant in their undertakings. On the other hand, motivational approach to leadership entrenches a strong culture of teamwork as it centers on professionalism at the core of empowerment mission.

Employee involvement and Empowerment

The locus of empowerment involve a wide range of dimensions that has the capacity to influence individuals as well as communities (Rappaport, 1987). An early description of empowerment refers to the construct as a possibility for individuals to be capable of taking control over their lives (Rappaport, 1987).  Empowerment as an aspect of a universal approach to HRM is defined as a motivational process that enables individuals to act freely. Thomas & Velthouse (1990) described empowerment as an “increase in motivation levels when accomplishing tasks and can be observed in four cognitions- meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact. Furthermore, empowerment enhances the capacity of employees to vales their work goals and derive a lot of meanings from their work. On the other, empowered individuals demonstrate higher levels of competence in their work. This revolves around their desire to make a positive impact on their work, especially when they are initiating actions and making decisions (Jansen, 2004; Deci, Connell & Ryan, 1989). Thomas & Velthouse (1990) on the other hand posit that four cognitions of empowerment operate collectively because of each plays a unique and significant role in employee influence. Jansen (2004) illustrates that empowered employees demonstrate higher levels of motivation and positive attitudes towards work. It is within this perspective that employee empowerment constitute a key strategy in enhancing the productivity of the workforce. This strategy has also been successfully implemented across various industries with meaningful results.  Bowen & Lawler (1992) advance that empowered teams are likely to perform better. 

Reward Management

Universal approaches in reward management form a key area in achieving employee satisfaction in  McGladrey as availing by Abdulla, Djebarni & Mellahi (2010). The philosophy effective development of reward systems arises from the backdrop knowledge that employees deserve better treatment from senior management as an incentive to improve performance. Better levels of enumeration and strategies in reward management have been pointed as key determinants of job satisfaction. Companies seeking to improve their levels of employee performance stand to reap a bundle of benefits by developing effective methods in reward management. An emerging trend in reward management is the pay-for-performance. Despite being encompassed by a number of limitations, literatures reveal that some companies have successfully developed effective pay-for-performance programs. Performance-related pay (PRP) or pay-for-performance has been advanced as an effective alternative for automatic pay increases for best performers in organizations (Milkovich, Wigdor & National Research Council (U.S.). (1991).  The objectives behind the introduction of pay-for-performance policies revolve around the desire to motivate, compete for the attraction, recruitment and retention of the best talent, contain costs of salary and monitor the level of performance of employees. The objective of motivation encompasses the need to improve the performance of the best performers while at the same time encourage other employees to improve productivity. Whereas the traditional form of reward management as primarily based on promotion, pay-for-performance recognizes and rewards based on the level of productivity, it has therefore been advanced that pay-for-performance reinforces makes an organization competitive in the attraction and retention of the best performers and skilled personnel.

Methodology

Research Approach

Inductive approach proposes that knowledge is based on the experiences of the learner and its relations with the phenomena. On the other hand, deductive approach is a constructivist approach adopts exploration of the phenomena after naming the concepts. Deductive approach is the best in examining the research question under this study. Within this study, the theory on human resource management of employee performance were analyzed through the universal HRM paradigm. On the other hand, the researcher hypothesizes that universal HRM practices positively influences the achievement of higher levels in employee performance. 

Figure 1 Deductive Approach: Source: Burney, A. (2008) Inductive-Deductive Research Approach

Research Methods

The study adopted a qualitative research design using descriptive co-relational method. Numerical or statistical data are generated by gathering raw numerical information from reliable sources (Creswell, 2002). Survey questionnaires were deployed to selected employees of McGladrey. To ensure validity, the questionnaire was thoroughly developed to capture all aspects of universal HRM practices such leadership, empowerment, reward management and training to yield valid results. Both standard questionnaires and interviews were used as key instruments in data collection. The instruments were designed to enable collection of accurate and in-depth information as much as possible. The introductory part of the questionnaire sought to avail demographic information of the participants. The main part of the questionnaire is meant to ascertain various aspects of universal HRM practices, as experienced by the participants. In leadership, the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire will be used to empirically investigate the leadership styles and their impacts of employee performance.

Data Sampling

Creswell (2002) asserts that quota sampling adopt gathering of representative data from a group. This demands that an individual forms part of a group before being selected. It is the shared characteristic that determines whether an individual forms part of a specific subgroup or not. Stratified sampling makes use of random sample from a chosen group. The research will adopt stratified sampling in the administration of data collection tolls such as questionnaires and interview materials.This research seeks to employ a modest participant population of 100. This sample size covers the employees who hold various positions within the HR department. The live interview data collection was also done by managers within the HR departments. The participant sampling is done to ensure the highest levels of confidence as possible.

Major Findings which affect the Company’s Employees and their Job Satisfaction and how they can be Solved

1.      Work/Life balance; Stress and Work Pace

The environment at the company during tax season does not support a balance between work and personal life. Management does not have an understanding on the importance of maintaining a balanced work and personal life. A lot of employees feel that they are forced to make a choice between their jobs and family obligations. The amount of work delegated to the employees is not reasonable and management has unreasonable expectations of its employees. The overall majority of the staff has the feeling that their job is causing them unreasonable amount of stress in their personal life. In this regard, the company should embrace a policy which ensures that employee work life balance is catered for such that problem of burn out is not experienced. This can be done by working in shifts and reducing the number of working hours a week.

2.      Communication

The communication in the organization is the most important aspect to keeping the organization together. The shareholders and upper management in the company do not share information and knowledge openly within the organization. Communication is rarely encouraged in this company. The upper management does not communicate well with their subordinates. The department meetings are rare in the organization. The best example would be there is no communication between the management and staff during tax season regarding workload. The solution to this problem will be to adopt an effective, efficient and interactive communication channel which makes it easy for everyone to voice their opinion without prejudice and victimization.

3.      Respect for employees and opportunities for growth

Managers have no value for the talents and contribution of the employees, thus there are no adequate opportunities for professional growth at the company. Employees believe that they are not valued and respected at the company, some of them also have felt that they are not treated fairly in the organization. Managers do not offer encouragement and support to the staff. This problem can be adequately solved by enhancing the culture of respect for all and designing motivational rewards for employees in the company. The reward system can be both monetary and non-monetary. Motivation plays a pivotal role in boosting the employee performance and job satisfaction.

4.      Diversity and personal expectations

There is no value for employees who challenge the status quo in the organization. The staff has no freedom to disagree with management without the fear of getting into trouble. The employees are not in a comfort zone when sharing their opinions in the workplace. The new ideas and opinions of the employees have not value. This problem can be effective solved by ensuring that the management listen to everyone's opinion such that the harmonized policy contains the views of all employees. This strategy will ensure that there is less conflict in the company hence harmonious working environment.

5.      Compensation and benefits

The employees believe that they are not paid fairly for the work they do. The bonus scheme is very low as compared to the other similar companies and benefits are not even close to the benefits offered by other companies. The solution to this problem lies in the adoption of an effective compensation which effectively appreciate merit and employee’s hard work.

6.      Teamwork

The teamwork is a very important factor which helps the organization achieve its goals. The managers in the company believed in dividing the employees rather than having them work together. The emphasis was on individual performances rather than team goals and joint achieved. The problem of lack of team spirit in the company can be solved by embracing team spirit in the company. Employees should be encouraged to work together towards the company’s goals

Conclusion

Despite the understanding that HRM has attracted a large number of research interests in the past, this paper will seek to examine an area that has not been adequately exhausted. Few researchers have examined HRM. This becomes more poignant when analyzed from the perspective that this study seeks to examine the impact of universal HRM practices on employee performance in  McGladrey. It is expected that this study will inject new perspectives into literatures HRM practices, with special focus on  McGladrey. McGladrey firm needs to appreciate the role of employee as a critical component of a company.This should be done by ensuring that the employees are duly motivated and valued. This will go a long way in solving the problem of demoralized employees and propel the company to greater heights.

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