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An Overview of Motivational Theories and Employer Branding

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I will start this section with a short definition of motivation. There exist many definitions of motivation in the literature review. I like the following: “most would agree that motivation requires a desire to act, an ability to act, and having an objective.” (Ramlall, 2004).

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The literature review identified two key motivational theories: Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The lit review also included articles on the applications of both of these theories. Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory emphasizes ways to increase positive motivators.

Herzberg’s two factor theory highlights two different factors that affect job satisfaction. The hygiene factors create job dissatisfaction if missing but does not motivate employees if they are present. In contrast, the motivational factors, increases job satisfaction when present but doesn’t affect the employee when missing (Herzberg, 1976). The hygiene factors are working conditions, salary, job security, status, company policy and supervision.

The motivators include achievement, recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth (Herzberg, Mausner & Snydermann, 1967). This suggests that extrinsic factors, like company policy or the salary, does not lead to motivation and satisfaction, compared to intrinsic factors, such as personal growth or recognition, which do. Furthermore, this theory also claims that as long as the hygiene factors are not fulfilled, signifying that the person will be dissatisfied, the motivators cannot be realised.

We can link this with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Indeed, as long as one need is not fulfilled, the higher level of the hierarchy pyramid of needs will not be a motivation nor will it be of immediate value to the person (Maslow, 1954).

We can conclude from Herzberg’s two factor theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that at the work place, management needs to have both hygiene needs and the proper motivators in order to have comfortable and motivated employees. In the article, “Recruiting and Retaining Technical Personnel at a Contractor-Operated Government Site ” supported Herzberg’s theory that if some motivators are present, but the hygiene factors are missing, people will leave the company. Employees will initiate a job change if motivators are inadequate with hygiene factors or if hygiene factors are lacking (Tamosaitis & Schwenker, 2002).

In the article “One more time: how to motivate employees”, it discusses Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory of job attitudes which according to this paper has been replicated 19 times since his original study. It has been replicated with different occupational groups and in different countries. In addition, one of the occupational groups was teachers. The replicated studies separated the satisfiers (motivators) from the dissatisfiers (hygiene) and then ranked them accordingly . The results supported the two-factor theory (Herzberg, 1987). Furthermore, this paper gives suggestions to management on how to improve the satisfiers or motivators through job enrichment (Herzberg, 1987).

Another important author for motivational theory is McClelland. McClelland states that the three types of needs: the need for achievement, the need for power and the need for affiliation, are motivators. Everyone has the capacity for all three, however, the type of motivation of a person will depend on their experiences and their environment (Ramlall, 2004). This suggests that different people can have different motivations, and thus will react differently to motivators.

Furthermore, it also indicates Human Resources (HR) should consider a person’s type of need for the work position. For example, it was found that top managers should have the need for power but a low need for affiliation (Ramlall, 2004) whereas a high need of achievement is associated with entrepreneurs (Estay, Durrieu & Akhter, 2013 ).

The paper by Icek Ajzen attempts to clarify within the Theory of Planned Behavior the component of behavioral control. The Theory of Planned Behavior builds on the theory of Reasoned Action (Ajzen, 2002). This theory says most behavior is under one’s own control and can be predicted from intentions alone. The theory of Planned Behavior added the construct of behavioral control to include situations where people do not have total control over the situation. The idea is that people are more likely to perform an action if they feel it is accessible or easy to do.

This builds on the intention to perform the action (Ajzen, 2002). This suggests that if you make it easier for potential candidates to apply, they will more likely apply. They know they have control over their skills, but have less control of the requirements of the job. An example was given by the author for a job applicant who wanted to apply for the position, but knew that it was not totally under her control. The person did everything to apply for the position, sending in her CV, work certificates, etc. but will be disappointed if someone else is hired who perhaps is more qualified for the post.

Therefore, the required actions depend on the part of the applicant, but is also dependent on the actions of the HR manager or hiring persons. Therefore, for this reason, getting the job is a goal and the action to get the job is considered a behavior (Ajzen, 2002 ).

Another important concept for this thesis and for recruiting in general, is employer branding. Employer branding is what the company is and offers as an employer. Its purpose is to attract, motivate and retain employees. (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).

Employer brand and employer branding have been used in HR practice. The authors described employer brand image from both the perspective of the employee (internal brand image) to the perceived image of the organization as seen from the outside (external employer brand). The external image is referred to as employer image, and the internal view is referred to as the organization’s identity. The concept of external employer branding is also referred to as employer image management (Lievens & Slaughter, 2016).

In the paper “Conceptualizing and researching employer branding”, it is explained that there are three steps in employer branding: first, building a value proposition, secondly, distributing the value proposition to the targeted employees and finally, developing the internal branding which is having a team that is committed to the company’s values and goals (Backhaus & Tikoo, 2004).

Building its employer branding leads to different outcomes. It has been found in the literature that the added value increases decision making, pre-hire and post-hire outcomes, differentiation, emotional bond and higher return on investment (Lievens & Slaughter, 2016).

Those authors developed a framework for employer image using it as the main construct in their model. The image of the employer was treated as part of the larger multifaceted construct of organizational image. The authors are arguing that a company will not have a reputation until there are images of the company in the minds of the public and/or the individual who have had direct contact with the organization. For example, the public may have a certain image of a company whereas an individual who has had a face to face job interview with the organization could have a different image of the company (Lievens & Slaughter, 2016).

It is also highlighted in the literature, the importance of building the employer brand as it can help recruit employees that qualify with the company’s requirements and can enable the company to have a strategic advantage (Wilden, Gudergan & Lings, 2010). Thus, it is key for recruitment. Employment attractiveness can be increased with a strong brand if it is clear, consistent and credible (Wilden, Gudergan & Lings, 2010).

A company can build its employer image through firstly, organizational actions and characteristics, such as investment in human capital, advertisement, public relations or its size. Secondly, organizational information through job advertisement and the company’s website will impact the image and attraction of the firm. Thirdly, recruiters can affect the candidate’s attitude. Therefore, it is important in the recruiting process to have a good job advertisement to entice the candidate to apply and then the treatment that is given at the interview is important in how the candidate perceives the organization with the goal of seeing it in a positive light.

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An example is the case of a job seeker who experiences an unpleasant or badly mannered recruiter could lead to a negative image of the company. Finally, public information, such as the media or word of mouth (Lievens & Slaughter, 2016) plays a part in building an organization’s image. Another important aspect that is mentioned in this article is the moderators. This means that the image perception and recruitment outcomes can differ by the individual’s characteristics (Lievens & Slaughter, 2016 ).

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