What’s it: Taylor’s motivation theory underscores money as the only way to motivate employees. The company is profit-oriented and seeks to produce more output at the least possible cost. Thus, they will pay more only if they get a higher output. This view, in theory, is also known as scientific management or Taylorism.
According to this theory, your company pays employees in proportion to the output they produce. You then calculate the cost-output and relate their productivity to payments. You will motivate employees to produce more output by offering extra cash.
How does Taylor’s theory of motivation work?
Frederick Taylor came up with his theory while working in a factory. He assumed workers were motivated to work more effectively when paid higher wages. They don’t naturally enjoy work. And for this reason, you need close supervision and control to make sure they work the way you want them to.
This theory requires your company to break down complex jobs into smaller, more scalable jobs (a division of labor). Then, you allocate workers to each section. In addition, you equip them with the appropriate equipment and training to ensure they work as efficiently as possible on the assigned tasks.
The division of labor aims to make it easier to calculate how much output must be produced in each section every day. It becomes the output target that must be achieved by each worker.
After setting the target output, you pay labor costs based on the piece rate. How much you pay each worker depends on their output level in each section.
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The piece-rate motivates employees to work harder and maximize productivity. Therefore, when they exceed the target, they will receive more payments. On the other hand, they receive a lower payout if they don’t hit the target.
Broadly speaking, to increase output per employee, Taylor’s theory requires companies to:
- Identify the fastest method to run production
- Divide the process into small tasks with a measurable output
- Establish procedures and instructions for carrying out each task
- Selecting and placing the right employees in the right jobs
- Supervise employees’ work to ensure they comply with procedures and instructions
- Record the time it takes employees to perform tasks in each section
- Train workers to make them more proficient in their respective jobs
- Paying workers based on the output they realize
- Analyze outputs and costs involved to improve production methods – if needed
What are the principles in Taylor’s theory of motivation?
Taylor’s theory adopts the following principles:
Scientific method. Your company must map the work within the company and divide it into smaller parts. Thus, the output in each section is more measurable. Then, you assign employees to each section.
Next is to record performance and analyze the results, including changes. Recording and analyzing the results in detail is a scientific approach, aiming to find the most efficient way.
Matching. This requires you to map the abilities and skills of each employee. So, you can put them in the right places instead of assigning them to just any job. In other words, it requires you to match the employees’ competence with the duties in each section. To achieve maximum efficiency, you need to train them to work more efficiently.
Monitoring. This is not only by giving clear instructions to each employee on what to do and how much output to produce. However, it also requires you to monitor their work and performance.
Monitoring is also useful for identifying ways of working and finding the most efficient ones. So, overall, you ensure your company operates most efficiently.
Harmonious cooperation. You separate the roles of manager and worker. You assign managers to spend more time on managerial tasks such as monitoring and developing training for employees. Meanwhile, employees execute work in each section. Thus, they are interdependent. In addition, they must work in harmony and understand the importance of each other’s roles.
What are some criticisms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
Money is not everything. Ignoring non-financial factors is a major target for criticizing Taylor’s theory of motivation. Motivating employees by offering extra cash doesn’t always work in most cases. Say, when a part-time employee has become a full-time employee, earning money doesn’t lead to high job satisfaction and morale – for example, reflected in high absenteeism. They may need more autonomy and flexibility to keep them motivated.
In fact, employees have some needs which money is not always satisfied with. For example, they have needs for love and belonging, which require a positive work environment to satisfy them.
In other cases, they need to actualize themselves to be satisfied. For example, they are motivated if they do a challenging job. Thus, they have the opportunity to practice their skills or introduce their ideas.
Non-physical contributions. The next critique is about accurately calculating the output for each job. And how capable it is reflects the contribution made by employees to the company.
Using piece rates often calculates physical output, which is easier to measure. But, as a result, it will be difficult for companies to calculate non-physical contributions. And, this problem is becoming more and more real for service companies.
Employees are likely to be disappointed if the company does not accommodate these non-physical contributions when calculating compensation. And they feel the company does not appreciate their efforts.
Humans are not like machines. Taylor’s theory is often found in mass production methods where employees do the same task repeatedly. They can be moved or ordered according to company needs, just like a machine. It all contributes to their lowered morale and motivation due to facing a tedious job.
What to read next
- Motivation: Why is it important? Theory and Types
- Why Are Well-Motivated Employees Important To Business?
- Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: Examples and Differences
- Taylor’s Theory of Motivation: How it Works, Principles and Criticism
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Importance, Order of Needs and Criticism
- McClelland’s Theory of Needs: Types and How to Satisfy
- Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation: Examples and Explanations
- McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y: Categories, Characteristics, and Implications
- Adam’s Equity Theory: How It Works and A Brief Explanation
- Pink’s Theory of Motivation: Elements and A Brief Explanation