All aspects of organisational behaviour are influenced by the structure of the organisation. As we have seen Primark operates a carbon copy bureaucracy, therefore when concentrating on the individual Belfast store, a machine bureaucracy is easily identified. This highly bureaucratic structure can affect a company in many ways, but this section focuses on the relationship between structure and motivation. We studied how Primark motivates and how it fails to motivate its employees and how the machine bureaucracy impacts on this process.
The word motivation is coined from the Latin word “movere”, which means to move. According to Daft (2010: pg 506) motivation ‘refers to the forces either within or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action. ’ Motivation has become increasingly important for organizations that want to reach their organizational objectives in a competitive marketplace.
In relation to Primark we will be assessing how management attempt to steer the motivation of employees in line with the goals of the organisation There are many motivational theories, however they fall into two main categories, content and process theories.
Content theories focus on the internal factors that stimulate and direct human behaviour whilst the more recent development of process theories concentrate on the actual process of motivation, what practises will increase and maintain motivation.
Within the two fields much work and study has been undertaken and multiple theories exist. As this discussion centres on the affiliation of structure and behaviour it is not necessary to widely discuss each theory, however it is helpful to establish some central characteristics of the theories. A common theme in the theories is the existence of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, intrinsic factors are ones which come from within the individual, which is the incentive stemming from personal interest or satisfaction from their work.
The extrinsic factors are the external incentives or rewards for their work. The theories on motivation are just that, theories, not theorems, they have not been proved to be uniformly applicable to all workplaces and employees. What motivates an employee depends on many things and will also be affected by where that individual is at in the company. What motivates a managing director will not be the same as that which motivates a sales assistant; therefore as you move up the hierarchical structure of Primark the motivating factors change considerably.
As our study was on the Belfast division of Primark, this discussion will focus mainly on the lower tier of the bureaucracy, primarily the sales assistants but will refer to management for the purpose of providing contrasts and examples. Primark pays employees a competitive wage, at ?6. 87 per hour, which is higher than its rivals. It is also a very strong company, Primark reported operating profits of ?122 m in the 6 months leading to March 2010, (http://www. guardian. co. k/business/2009/apr/21/primark-announces-profit-rise, accessed 15th October) so even in tough financial times the company is able to make profits. These are extrinsic factors which provide motivation. Maslow identified these characteristics and classified them as lower level needs in his hierarchy of needs (SEE APPENDIX A), Similarly Herzberg would classify these as hygiene factors which do not serve to motivate but need to be satisfied otherwise an employee will not be motivated (APPENDIX B) Whilst job security is, or should be the same for all employees, the wages will not be.
The hierarchical structure of Primark is evident when examining employee wages as those at senior management level are paid significantly higher than those at the bottom such as sales assistants. Another example where the hierarchical structure serves to motivate is through the vertical integration promotion scheme within the company. Primark offers promotion and travel opportunities for all employees on the basis of internal recruitment. In Northern Ireland Primark are currently internally recruiting for trainee weekend and full time managers.
Sales assistants are able to climb the ladder of management without a degree. Primark always advertise these positions internally before they advertise externally. Employees can view the organisation as a hierarchical structure and aim to work their way up through the company. This is a motivation factor for all employees, even senior management within the Belfast store because Primark being a multinational company can offer positions at head offices or in another country. This is Maslow’s self actualisation factor and a ‘motivator’ factor of Hertzberg’s two factor theory.
This can also relate to the process theories such as the expectancy and equity theories. The expectancy theory (Appendix c) predicts that individuals will be motivated if they value the reward given for work and believe this is a just reward. By working hard and professionally they can achieve promotion and so become motivated. The basis of the equity theory is related to one’s perception of job input and outcomes and those of their colleagues (Appendix d). Employees in Primark who have high input and outcomes can see these outcomes through the opportunity of promotion.
However such fairness does not always arise in Primark. Currently all sales assistants in Primark are all paid the same wage, and all are in receipt of benefits such as sick pay, pension schemes, productivity, and service hours. However this equality can result in de-motivation amongst staff. According to Mullins (2008) people place a weighting on these inputs and outputs, in accordance with how important they believe them to be. This can lead to inequities amongst employees. When relating this theory to Primark it can have two differing effects.
If employees feel that their inputs are more than others yet they are still receiving the same outcomes, they will try to remedy this inequity by reducing their volume or productivity of work in order to mirror that of their surrounding staff. This manifests itself within Primark through the idea that employees who are always put on a register escape the harder task of tidying the shop floor therefore staff decrease their workload to reflect this. Yet, this may not be the case due to the higher wages Primark staff are paid in relation to other retail stores.
Staff may increase productivity in a bid to justify their higher wages. Pay may soon cease to be a motivating factor in Primark’s Belfast store. This is because wage negotiations have been open since April and no agreement has been made between USDAW and Primark, and striking is being considered. (SEE USDAW PAY TALKS CLAIM) Due to the recession money as a motivator is of high relevance, especially in Primark, staff may become disgruntled due to the fact their colleagues in the Republic of Ireland got a pay rise yet they are being denied one.
In our study of Primark’s Belfast store we found agreement amongst staff that the Trade Union representatives are treated more favourably, yet their inputs and outputs are the same. Such an example of this unfairness arises in relation to service hours. It is a policy in Primark that service hours are not to be taken over Christmas or Easter, however this policy has not always been adhered to. Trade Union representatives have been permitted days off over these periods resulting in feelings of inequity amongst staff.
These two examples highlight the damaging impact that any sense of unfairness can have on motivation. There were further examples of issues that led to the workforce becoming de-motivated. A primary illustration is a lack of communication. Within the Belfast store there are several levels of management such as weekend, department, senior department, and store managers. The priorities of the managers vary and often the lack of communication between managers results in employees receiving conflicting instructions, resulting in employees being unaware of which duty to carry out first.
Primark does not encourage employee involvement; therefore a lack of communication between management and sales assistants exists as they are not asked for their opinion on important matters, only to comply with the decisions. Sales assistants are asked to complete tasks without the information as to why they are carrying out the tasks therefore employees do not understand any goals of the organisation which can lead to job dissatisfaction. In highly bureaucratic organisations this is a common difficulty.
The narrow span of control means that messages pass down a long chain of communication and can be interpreted differently by managers leading to mix ups in communication. Also in large organisations it is impossible to include everyone in the decision making process. Further, the role that a sales assistant can expect to carry out on a normal shift is often mundane, inflexible and requires little scope for individuality. Sales assistants are designated a section on the shop floor and job variation is limited in such a way that employees are either in their section, on fitting rooms or on a cash register.
As a result employees at this level do not have the opportunity to fulfil their intrinsic needs such as self achievement and responsibility. The carbon copy bureaucracy has led to high levels of formalisation, standardisation and centralisation in the store. This has had an adverse impact on the job design of sales staff and as a result they have little job satisfaction from their work. The most common theme arising out of the study was the lack of recognition given to employees. Recognition is a fundamental intrinsic factor of motivation and is referred to in most motivational theories.
According to Kren (1990 : pg 4) ‘higher motivation is this associated with greater perceived values for the various rewards in one’s job and greater perceived likelihoods that effort will lead to these rewards. ’ Due to the nature of the work in Primark, it can seem that not a lot was achieved at the end of a shift as the store should look exactly the same as it did at the start with the clothes tidied and rails fully stocked. Employees leave their shift feeling exhausted, but without any recognition from management that they have successfully completed their job.
It is possible that employees feel strongly about this as it is something that could easily be rewarded in a machine bureaucracy like Primark. There is a narrow span of control therefore it seems reasonable to expect some recognition from a manager in a small sub division of the store after working hard. Employees in Primark therefore attach less value to the completion of their tasks as they receive little or no recognition, minimal job satisfaction and consequently Primark currently fails to motivate employees.
However whilst carrying out our study we have found that despite its failings Primark has attempted to motivate employees in various ways, such as ‘Store of the month’ competitions. (See appendix) In an attempt to fulfil Maslow’s higher levels of needs by delivering recognition for the input of staff, Primark have began to award certificates to the best performing store in the UK each month. This can also be seen as Primark attempting to fulfil the third level, love or belonging needs. Primark’s aim is to make staff feel that they have won the store of the month through being a team; therefore they belong and are needed.
As previously stated Primark can be seen to be satisfying the highest level of the hierarchy as they offer the employees vertical integration. (See Appendix – Perth) Yet the organisational structure restricts employees, as they feel they are unable to diversify and make the most of their abilities. As a carbon copy machine bureaucracy communication is a huge problem, Primark however have been made aware of this. In the first staff survey conducted in 2008 (See appendix) staff highlighted the poor communication between managers and staff.
As a result Primark introduced a new coaching skills course for all management. Primark have introduced a weekly communication notice that is delivered to all employees on a Monday morning and on a Saturday. (See appendix) Employee surveys may prove useful to Primark, however in relation to motivation their biggest problem is their structure. As a machine bureaucracy it will inevitably fail to motivate employees in relation to their higher level of needs. This study will provide recommendations for Primark in relation to how they could better motivate their employees.
If Primark gave more control to middle management this would allow managers to have more control over buying stock and each store would consequently be able to meet regional demand. Sales assistants would therefore have more of a say in the buying process as ultimately they know what lines sell best. If able to contribute to this process motivation would be higher as they would be able to better use their abilities At present Primark only offers jobs to sales assistants that are routine in nature and extremely repetitive.
The skills which are needed to complete these jobs can be learnt very quickly and these jobs do not allow for independent thought. Porter and Lawler (1975) argue that if a degree of flexibility in how jobs are designed and defined were achieved organisations would have more room for change and adjustment in attempting to achieve a work environment where workers would have the greatest opportunity to work to the best of their abilities.
However in Primark this degree of job flexibility would be at odds with its organisational structure and business demands. As Primark is one if not the busiest high street store, its needs demand a formalised structure. Primark could attempt to motivate employees through job enrichment. According to Daft (2010: pg 520) ‘ in an enriched job, employees have control over the resources necessary for performing it, make decisions on how to do the work, experience personal growth, and set their own work pace. ’ If Primark allowed
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