Building a Better Workplace Through Motivation

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Building a better workplace through motivation


People spend a considerable part of their lives at work, so it is not surprising that they expect to be rewarded and satisfied with the job that they do. Motivation is concerned with why people do things as well as what drives them to behave in a particular way. Understanding what motivates individuals is important in the workplace. Research suggests that motivated employees are happier at work. They get more satisfaction from their work, are absent less often, tend to be more loyal and work with more enthusiasm. This in turn encourages them to contribute more to the development of an organisation.

This case study focuses on how Kellogg’s motivates its people. It illustrates how the use of motivational techniques helps to develop the business as a ‘great place to work’.

The Kellogg Company is the world’s leading producer of breakfast cereals. Its products are manufactured in 18 countries and sold in more than 180 countries. For more than 100 years, Kellogg’s has been a leader in health and nutrition. It has done this by providing consumers with a wide variety of food products.

Within Kellogg’s, there is a variety of functions and work roles. These include engineering operatives in the manufacturing section. Others work in finance, marketing, sales, information technology or human resources. Keeping everybody motivated no matter what their role is not easy. Kellogg’s was recently placed in the top 100 of the Best Companies to Work For list in The Sunday Times. Kellogg’s values and culture support its role as a good employer. Encouraging everyone to live by the K-Values throughout the whole business creates a culture of people that have ownership over their own projects and strive for continuous improvement and industry-leading results. These values influence the behaviour of individuals within the workplace, making Kellogg’s a positive place to work. Employees are encouraged to speak positively about each other when apart, focusing on their strengths. This involves listening to others and accepting their right to their own views regarding the workplace.

The benefits of Kellogg’s investing in people can best be illustrated by looking at the work of some of the theorists who have worked on motivation. The remainder of the case study shows how Kellogg’s commitment to creating a ‘great place to work’ is supported by these theories.


Frederick Taylor was associated with what has become known as ‘scientific management’. Taylor believed that monetary reward was an important motivating factor. Pay could simply be used to increase rates of output. Taylor’s view of motivation applies to people who tend to work within narrow job confines such as on a production line. These are people who can be paid according to the amount of work that they do or units they produce. This is known as ‘piece work’.

For many people pay is still a prime motivator. For example, within Kellogg’s many employees are motivated by cash alternatives which include the opportunity to buy and sell their holiday days. Taylor’s theory breaks down jobs into components or specialist tasks through the division of labour. This especially applies to production processes within large companies like Kellogg's. These rewards can help to increase productivity and profitability. The danger with this is that individuals are simply focused on output to get rewards so quality might suffer as a result of employees rushing to do the job.

Scientific management is not a process that allows development of people. It limits their ability to take ownership of what they do. Kellogg’s staff are encouraged to be creative and use their imagination to contribute towards change. Consequently, Taylor’s view of monetary reward for output is not appropriate for the motivation required for this type of workplace.


Maslow’s theory relates motivation to a hierarchy of needs. At the bottom are...
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