Chalmers

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Human Resources Case Note
Keeping Suzanne Chalmers

CASE TOPICS: MOTIVATION, JOB DESIGN, MONEY AND REWARDS

Case Synopsis
This case describes a meeting with software engineer Suzanne Chalmers and Thomas Chan, the vice-president of software engineering at Advanced Photonics Inc. (API). Chalmers arranges the meeting to indicate her intention to leave API. Chan tries to keep her by offering better conditions and, eventually, more money and share options. But Chan knows that Chalmers is already a millionaire from her share options and the appreciation of API’s share price. The case highlights the difficulty in motivating people to stay and the relative importance of financial rewards compared to other sources of motivation. Soon after the meeting, Chalmers submits her resignation and, after a few months rest, takes up a position at a start-up company.

Discussion Questions and Suggested Answers

1.Why didn’t money motivate Suzanne Chalmers to stay with APL? In this particular situation, the needs fulfilled by money (mainly physiological, safety, and social) were not strongest for Suzanne. Instead, it seems that Suzanne required more self-actualization, particularly work with more variety and challenge. The job seems to be getting routine. Moreover, she later took a job at a start-up firm where she probably performed a wider variety of tasks.

2.Do financial rewards have any value in situations such as this, where employees are relatively wealthy? Yes, most people value money even when they have enough. The textbook explains that money affects employee motivation in complex ways. It satisfies most needs to some extent. For example, Chalmers might value a special bonus or pile of share options for completing a special project. The money is valued for its symbolism, not as much for what it buys. At the same time, the facts in this case suggest that money has relatively low importance to Suzanne. She didn’t mention money at all in the...
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