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Free «Employee Motivation and Retention» Essay Sample


Employee motivation and retention are vital in business today. These concepts will be explained and demonstrated throughout this research paper with a focus on retail businesses. According to Kreisman (2002), a motivated employee as well as a motivated team allows for great job satisfaction and high level job performance and employee retention. Research reveals that employee motivation and retention are vital to successful businesses throughout the United States.

I chose this topic because of my interest in employee management at all levels of the company. Many workers and managers are asked to do more with less. This can result in high turnover and low morale within any company. Understanding what motivates employees and what allows for high levels of retention can carry a company beyond their long-term strategic planning as well as their short-term goals.

Employee Motivation

According to Pritchard and Ashwood, motivation is the process used to allocate energy to maximize satisfaction of needs. Employee motivation entails creating an environment that allows for individual growth through recognizing positive contribution, presenting challenges at work, and encouraging responsibility. Abraham H. Maslow, an American motivation psychologist, explained that satisfaction can occur in five levels of human needs. Needs, such as hunger, thirst, and sleep, should be satisfied before any other needs. In a job setting, managers should motivate their teams by satisfying basic needs first since its unsatisfied needs that can influence human behavior (Andrew & Kent, 2007). 



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Significance of Motivation

In a business environment, employees who are happy or satisfied with their jobs tend to perform much better than unhappy ones. Herman (1999) confirms that job satisfaction brings about peace of mind and positive energy that is in turn channeled towards productive activities in the work environment. To ensure job satisfaction, employers need to motivate their employees through various strategies and policies. This in return brings about higher productivity levels as motivated employees tend to try and do their best at work. They also are quality oriented and thus more productive than their unmotivated counterparts. Employees working in organizations that pay attention to employee motivation reportedly have fewer cases of absenteeism and resignation. This means that they are more efficient than those organizations that prefer renewing their work force every so often (Nelson, 1995).

A. Declining Motivation

In recent years, employee motivation has generally declined in retail businesses throughout the US. This is because most companies have only focused on financial implications of motivating their employees, thus neglecting growth opportunities that come with the highly motivated work force. This means that most retail businesses currently prefer to use less money as operational costs. While motivation might not affect the skills of an employee, it does have a direct impact on his or her concentration at work and consequently his or her individual productivity at the work place (Vansteenkiste & Deci, 2003). If all employees in a given business are not motivated, this can translate into tremendous reduction in productivity thus costing the company much more than employee motivation would have. Most employers, however, do not subscribe to this philosophy. They ignore the fact that motivating employees is beneficial to their businesses. Employees now work on a ‘need-to’ basis thus they do not get any job satisfaction. They also tend to be unhappy, and most of them are more than willing to jump on any chance of getting another job.

B. Leadership Role

Leaders, including managers and supervisors, play a critical role in the general functioning of a business. While interacting with the rest of the employees, they can positively or negatively affect their outlook and attitude towards their work. While managers also require motivation, they also need to motivate their teams in order to decrease their workload.

1. Doing More With Less

Most companies put much emphasis on lowering operational costs, and this includes reducing employee benefits and incentives. They expect high output from their very low input. This always works to their disadvantage because employees loose heart in the jobs and start looking for better options. Those who remain tend to do so out of necessity, thus lowering their productivity. Imposing cost cutting measures that demoralize the workforce ends up destroying the company in the long-run.

2. Leadership Leading By Example

The most successful leaders tend to have great relationship with their subordinates both in and out of the workplace. To achieve this, leaders need to be active participants in the workplace. Apart from providing directions, a successful leader should work with the subjects. Workers are more efficient when working with a boss that they can associate with either in the work setting or social setting. Through regular interactions managers can increase effectiveness levels of their staff through positive appraisals from activities undertaken together. Working together as a team helps build loyalty between the leader and the subordinates. 

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I. Employee Retention

Employee retention can be defined as the ability of a company to retain its employees. This is dependent on company’s efforts to maintain its employees. Most workers remain in jobs that give them satisfaction and security rather than simply being a means to an end. This, therefore, means that a company that pays attention to job satisfaction of its workers has high employee retention rate. A company could, however, retain its employees out of necessity, in that they would like to leave but have no such opportunity. While this will not result in a high employee turnover, it will translate to reduced productivity, thus lower efficiency. While employee retention does not necessarily indicate job satisfaction amongst company’s employees, a lack of it indicates a big need for strategies that can avert the trend. High turnovers are expensive and inconvenient for any business, and unless it is a positive turnover, it should be avoided at all costs.

A. Significance of Retention

The ability of a company or business to retain its employees is directly related to company’s efforts to create a good working environment. Retaining employees ensures that money is not spent on recruiting or training new employees. This implies that high employee retention rate means low turnover, and this eventually translates to lower operation costs for the business. Successful businesses strive to retain their employees in order to ensure smooth running of the business since a new workforce would require time to adjust and learn the operations of the company (Staw 1991).

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B. Cost of Retention

Primarily, retaining employees is an expensive affair as they require incentives and regular motivating factors to keep them focused on company's success. After years of service, most people expect a promotion or at least a salary increment. Most companies view this as unnecessary expenses and they would rather hire a new workforce that is less likely to have such expectations. High employee retention rate is, however, less costly than a lack of it. Recruitment in itself is an expensive exercise, not to mention training that new recruits need to undergo in order to fit in to the workforce efficiently. A new workforce needs time to adjust, and this implies that there will be a slow period for the business. This is quite unfavorable, especially for a retail business that heavily depends on consistency and efficiency.

III. Corporate Strategies

In order to improve the general performance of businesses, managers need to focus on increasing employee motivation and employee retention through long-term and short-term strategies that are discussed below.

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A. Short Term Strategies and Goals

While setting short-term goals and strategies, leaders should focus on the motivation of employees since this is the main factor that directly affects performance of a company with regards to employee retention. Retaining a competent and efficient workforce is achievable if employees are constantly motivated, not necessarily only through unexpected bonuses and salary increments. Although these too can work , the effect is less noticeable. Motivational strategies applicable for businesses vary depending on management’s commitment to motivate employees (Dibble 1999). To motivate a workforce, the leadership of the organization needs to take their time and understand the involved individuals personally. This is because different personalities respond to different types of motivation. While some people respond to soft sell strategies, the latter may not work with other personalities thus necessitating the application of hard sell strategies as well. 

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B.  Long Term Strategies and Goals

Long-term strategies and goals should be more about maintaining the retained workforce and undertaking measures that ensure career and personal growth for individuals. This can be very challenging, especially based on the Abraham H. Maslow’s theory that implies satisfaction in humans to be procedural and continuous. This is, however, achievable if the management is committed to the cause.

Table 1: Effects of Motivation on Employee Retention 


I have received adequate


There is an enabling

environment to achieve

all target

Satisfaction with the mode of employee selection for training & development program
Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage
Agree 13 27.1 37 77.1 9 18.7
Disagree 35 72.1 11 29.2 39 81.3

Human Resource Department, US, Field Survey, 2011

IV. Recommendations for Improvement

A.  Motivation

Different people respond to different motivational strategies. While soft sell strategies recommend praising and advising individuals as per their performance, hard sell strategies prefer the use of incentives as a form of barter trade, applying pressure, and promoting individuals to higher ranks within the organization. Most individuals opt for challenging jobs to boost their self-esteem. They tend to be attracted to jobs that stretch their limits and enable them to prove their capabilities to themselves, their peers, and their bosses. This means that a motivated employee is the one who takes up challenges frequently and is always looking for new ways to challenge themselves. Businesses should provide these challenges to their employees in order to keep them mentally stimulated.

A good job is one that encourages employees to use different talents and skills to accomplish a given task. This ensures that the employee does not feel like he or she is wasting his or her skills or talents. This not only promotes self-awareness but also boosts employees’ self-worth, thus motivating them to greater heights. A good job also allows individuals to handle their projects to completion. While teamwork is a form of interaction that is motivational in itself, most people like owning a project, especially when it turns out successful.

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Task identity is, therefore, also a way in which business can motivate their staff. Another quality that a good job should have is to provide tasks, which can impact the lives of others. This creates a sense of usefulness and importance that is translated into more enthusiasm in the job, thus higher productivity (Andrew & Kent, 2007). A good job is the one in which the employer can exercise some amount of freedom in accomplishing his or her task. This level of autonomy creates a sense of responsibility that also enforces the sense of belonging, thus increases employee's commitment to the job. Obtaining feedback for a job is also something that can be done to motivate employees. Knowing one’s performance is a way of building confidence, and this helps to motivate employees. 

B. Retention

In order to increase employee retention, employers need to satisfy the needs of employees without deviating from company’s goals. In order to achieve this, companies must appreciate both the short-term and long-term goals of their employees. This can be achieved through interactions with individual employees or employee engagement. These can then be assessed and incorporated with the goals of the company so that with the growth of the business, the individuals could grow with it. To retain its employees, an organization needs to align the rewards that it provides with the needs of employees. Irrelevant rewards do not encourage employees but are instead a waste of company's resources. Managers should, therefore, focus on offering rewards that have some value to employees(Kreisman, 2002).

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After working in an organization for sometime, most people feel that they stop growing professionally because they have developed a comfort zone. In order to increase person’s self-worth, employees seek to continue their studies or take refresher courses. These usually affect their availability at work, and some even opt to voluntarily resign from their jobs in order to focus on their studies. Businesses can increase their employee retention by providing training sessions to employees on relevant areas regularly to increase their professional value, encourage personal growth, and boost their confidence.

Retail businesses require a thriving workforce that is customer oriented and willing to provide good customer service. This can be achieved by engaging employees in running of the business in order to foster enthusiasm and responsibility among employees. This also helps build trust between the employer and employees thus fostering a good relationship and mutual respect.

In order to ensure high level of employee retention, low and mainly positive turnovers, and low operation costs, retail businesses must commit themselves to maximizing employee satisfaction by meeting some specific basic needs like good working environment. Employers work best in an environment that they find to be conducive for them. This, like in Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory, is a hygiene factor. It, however, needs to be balanced with several motivations such as individual recognition through positive appraisals, delegation of responsibility to foster trust and high self worth, and creation of challenges to help stretch personal limits and encourage individual growth (Ajila & Abiola, 2004). The survey conducted by the United States Human Resource Department indicated that most people believe that increasing motivation by various means has a direct impact on the rate of employee retention in the organization.

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V. Conclusion

Setting an achievable goal is a form of motivation, and in this study I aimed to underline the relationship between motivated employees and a successful business with regards to employee retention. The research shows how motivated employees affect the output and profitability of a retail businesses. Being centered on customer service, retail businesses depend heavily on the ability of the workforce to attract and retain customers. This i-plies that the success of these businesses depend on employees. Therefore, they need to actively engage them in running of thebusiness. While appreciating financial implications of employee retention, this study established that advantages of high employee retention outweigh the disadvantages. Also, through extensive analysis of retail businesses in the US, this research intended to provide options on a workable course of action regarding corporate long-term and short-term goals and strategies towards employee motivation and retention.


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