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Debate the proposition that employers are more concerned with controlling employee behaviour than they are with eliciting employee commitment. Essay

It can be said that employers have become increasingly concentrated towards controlling employee’s behaviour than endeavouring to attain employee commitment in organisations. Control can be defined as “To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over” . However this can become controversial when applied to working with people therefore as a countermeasure commitment has been introduced to even the balance.

This can be defined as “a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values and a willingness to help out colleagues (organisational citizenship). It goes beyond job satisfaction and is not simply motivation. Engagement is something the employee has to offer: it cannot be ‘required’ as part of the employment contract. Commitment is therefore intrinsic to the individual employee and difficult to measure what exactly makes each one motivated therefore control should be utilised to a greater extent.

This shift to controlling employees rather than endeavouring to ensure that they are committed has led to a majority of staff feeling undervalued and therefore unable to achieve their potential in the workplace. A study has shown that controlling employees has led to a drop in productivity due to the fact that a 26% or three quarters of staff members, feel that they are being manipulated rather than being utilised to their potential .

Therefore, this illustrates that companies are now shifting towards compliance from their employees to follow Manager’s directives in lieu of commitment that is attained through the use of de-centralised management e.g. Matrix structures. However if companies therefore wish to therefore use centralised management the possibility for employee commitment is therefore limited.

Matrix structures do have the effect of improving commitment as they include no hierarchy and equal standing by those in them however they must be monitored to ensure that they are still effective and not misused for their less stringent management style and that some structures favoured over others .

McGregor’s (1960) XY theory is a method to illustrate the management style of an organisation to determine whether it favours control or commitment from its workforce. Employee behaviour which is heavily controlled follows the pattern of Theory X, as opposed to the Theory Y which is intended to generate employee commitment.

Theory X favours that managers exercise control and directed to achieve the organisational objectives with little flexibility for employees to use their initiative, whereas Theory Y believes that commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievements . Theory X managers have somewhat receded however employees are still being controlled under the assumption that businesses are using commitment methods for example flexible working practises and appraisals which will be discussed later.

Commitment is intrinsic which requires more resources, however control is external and can be done more effectively than commitment. See appendix one for a model of McGregor’s theory. To control employee behaviour a number of measures have been utilised in the office environment that have enabled them to be observed by managers and recorded in order to monitor them while they are on the premises.

By installing these devices it motivates the employee to work as they are constantly being monitored and therefore provides a sense of motivation for them to work as signs of slacking/unauthorised absence are recorded and used as evidence to support that fact . CCTV has evolved in recent years for businesses. Before, it was used as a common security device for the building, now, it has become a performance tool for mangers in which as a further measure to control their staff.

This is done by highlighting those employees who are slacking to ensuring that proper procedure is being adhered to while on the premises. . This constant monitoring can have the effect of de-moralising employees as their every move in the workplace is being scrutinised.

Job commitment however relegates CCTV to its previous function of security as management entrust employees to do their jobs, but now that CCTV has been turned in towards employees it is evident that control measures are being used instead of trying to create commitment. Yet CCTV is but one way of retaining control of staff in the workplace. For instance, in McDonalds through the use of CCTV cameras, productivity has increased through unobtrusive CCTV coverage of workers and customers .

An additional method which a business can use technology to monitor employees is the practice of electronic “clocking in” systems. These devices have been implemented in large businesses that employ a multitude of staff in which individual movement of employees can be difficult to trace. A business which has done this exactly this is Poundworld in which employees are electronically scanned into at the start of a shift and have the consequence of deduced salary if this process has been neglected .

As a method of control, these devices can monitor exactly when an employee has begun their shift or when they have returned from their breaks etc. to ensure that they begin work at the proper time. This also ensures proper records can be maintained should any discrepancy arise regarding timekeeping.

However this monitoring of movement may hamper employee commitment as they are constantly being recorded while on the premises for timekeeping plus they can feel dis-trusted by management as they are being constantly monitored for when they started their shift.

Employers have minutely contributed to employee commitment with the use of Job Design which has been utilised to effect in certain companies such as Microsoft who use elements like job share to encourage employees in their roles Job Design is when the duties and the role of an employees’ position have been analysed and decided by management before they are employed or amending parts of an employees’ position while they are employed. Job Design permits an input from employees into their role of the organisation as they collaborate with management in which their position is defined.

A further example of stimulating commitment with job design is when employees and employers discuss characteristics of the position that would suit the employee’s capabilities which in turn increases their motivation as the employers are permitting staff an input into designing their responsibilities in the job.

However, employers have the opportunity to use job design to influence control of over their staff with the use techniques such as job expansion and job rotation with allow them to amend or add additional workload to their job which may not be to the employees benefit. Furthermore, an employer has the ability to change the job design of staff to suit their requirements over employees depending on the situation without any input from employees.

By way of strategically/tactically controlling their staff, management are employing the use of Management by Objectives for all members of staff to analyse if targets or goals are being met. This can be defined as “A methods of management whereby managers and employees define goals for each department, project, and person and use them to monitor subsequent performance” .

Controlling behaviour is being used here as management are attaining the utmost effectiveness from a particular member of staff or individual department as their desired goals are measured against their actual goals and analyse if they have been accomplished. However commitment is being given to the staff/department as the decisions to how they achieve their stated goals has been de-centralised for them to decide.

As technology has increased to such an extent, a business can take advantage of employing staff that do not have to work in the office environment through the use of flexible working contracts and providing them with equipment to work off-site. These contracts enable a business to offer their employees who are unable to travel or who have other commitment so actively continue working but in the confines of their own home or on the go by the use of a laptop or mobile phones.

As employees are away from the office, a main disadvantage is that their working pattern cannot be monitored to ensure that they are actually fulfilling their tasks.

As controlling behaviour has become more prevalent to management, software has be embedded to the technology issued to these homeworkers e.g. tracker and keystroke logs to monitor the use of laptops and phones during the day. For example, Freedom Direct, a holiday company offers such flexible contracts and issues those involved with hardware embedded with this surveillance software to safeguard against slacking while away from the eyes of management .

However some companies now prefer to control their employees from one central organisation. For example Yahoo managing director has decided to ban employees from using home working to “build on corporate culture” however this has damaged commitment as many employees have been demoralised by this decision that may affect their future in the company. .

Furthermore, to bolster the claim of controlling employees, this ban on flexible practises was instigated after an investigation of employee logs showed it fell below the standard expected for their employees and therefore cut this form of employment from the organisation. . This therefore illustrates that electronic devices provided by organisation are monitored to ensure that duties are conducted. Employee commitment is therefore given an opportunity by senior management by permitting a group of employees to work away from the office on these contracts who might not have the opportunity to do so.

This increases motivation and job satisfaction to the company as they would not lose any valuable staff plus have the ability to monitor these employees away from the office with the tracker software to monitor their actions during the working day. Control is again utilised as these employees are monitored no less than their counterparts in the office and are monitored with the identical software.

Control has been favoured in organisations as those with the authority to make decisions in their department must to be held to account for those decisions should they prove to be incorrect. Accountability can be defined as “the fact that those people with authority and responsibility are subject to reporting and justifying task outcomes to those above them in the chain of command” .

By having a clear and define line of authority from the managing director to the clerk, it is possible to identify who should be held to account and therefore justify their decisions should they prove them to be incorrect or disastrous. This can be de-moralising as these targets are not negotiable and therefore must be achieve which adds an element of stress.

Managers often therefore are hesitant to issue instructions in which they know are difficult to achieve, yet this can bolster commitment within the company as employees, if informed, that these tasks are of some difficulty may strive to attain them to receive the department recognition for doing so. This therefore increases motivation as well as assists in team-building for the department as they are united in a common goal .

Employee behaviour can be controlled by the use of annual appraisals of departments. This is the discussion in which an employee and manager decide on the objectives and the action necessary to achieve them for the coming year. Appraisals are a two way discussion in which the employee states what they wish to achieve for the year and the manager offers guidance to do so, however this is again a method for which control even though employees perceive it as being a method for commitment.

The employee may see appraisals as a method in which they are in control of what they want to achieve and not what the business wants them to do. This is an opportunity for managers to input targets or goals which the employee agrees on without knowing the magnitude of the task, however they must achieve as it has been stated on the appraisal document and could lead to a poor appraisal the subsequent year. Managers can use these to implement control over employees in which to dispel rewards to the employee thus motivates them to achieve their objectives.

The threat of disciplinary action for repeated failure to attain objectives set out at appraisals is a sure way to coerce commitment in the workplace as employees will strive to achieve those objectives set at appraisals.

Employers have the ability to produce commitment while still using control methods by the use of a health work/life balance. This can be defined as “concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives” . While managers are allowing an employee to split their time between a professional and a private life they can still use methods such as monitoring social media to ensure that no derogatory remarks have been made against the organisation known as reputation management.

It has been reported that 80% of a company’s workforce use social media sites in one way or another therefore the scope for badmouthing a company has increased. To combat this possibility 60% of selected businesses have proposed to implement software that would detect this . It is imperative that a business conform to the laws which dictate when an employee’s professional life ends and when a personal one begins as not to intrude.

Having a healthy balance between personal and professional life enhances commitment to the organisation due to employees recognising that their business does not own them permanently and are permitted a life outside the office however are unobtrusively monitored to an extent.

In order for senior management to exercise control over employees while they are in the workplace, management have re-employed the use of a well-defined and structured hierarchy in organisations in which they can delegate the operational control of the business to managers or first level employees who have a greater understand of how operations of the department are conducted.

Middle management positions such as Assistant Managers for departments have returned to businesses due to the fact that the employees on this level support change to departments which may not be popular as well as focusing on the different strategies which have been set by the company .

By re-introducing levels of management that may have been de-layered previously, companies are therefore increasing their Vertical differentiation to establish a clear line of authority in departments. This may be advantageous for commitment in departments that have a copious amount of staff as problems can be easily rectified, yet they can be seen as another level of management in which the business has established to ensure their corporate strategies are met irrespective to employee requirements.

In order to control employees’ behaviour, businesses have invested in training and development programs to educate their workforce with various methods such as induction training through to university courses. Induction training is a period in which a new employee to the business is given training preceding their start in the business. This provides an opportunity for the member of staff to become aware of the procedures, policies and workplace culture that a business has.

In order to train potential or existing staff some businesses have adopted a system of internal in-house training schemes that have been adapted especially to fit different purposes. Businesses such as McDonalds which have established educational institutes for potential staff to undertake for promotion or re-training or other reasons which would see those who graduate attain a recognised qualification . However due to their size and expense they are restricted to large highly profitable businesses.

A purpose of these schools is to instruct that person on what is expected of them while in employment and how to undertake different duties, however these methods can be categorised as a method of control as these courses are pre-designed so that employees should conform only to those that are taught as they expect them to be correct.

Commitment can be fostered from this as employees may be more motivated and satisfied in their position as they have been trained to a degree so that they are competent in their role in the business and provide a sense of a good working environment to potential employees, plus as this is a recognised qualification this can be presented as part of an application as a symbol that they have enrolled and passed a course specifically designed to train members of staff.

The drawback of control becomes the advantages of using commitment and should influence a business to implement commitment measures For example; Pfeffers’ model of high performance factors is heavily influenced as commitment measures that managers should consider to bolster the motivation of their workforce. However these are disguised as a further method of control as to attain these factors the workforce must demonstrate they are a viable working entity.

The factors that constitute this model are Team working and de-centralised management, High pay and incentive, Employee Security, Extensive training and development, Narrow status differentials and Careful recruitment and selection. Cultural control is a method that managers can use to “define specific patterns of behaviour within a professional environment”.

This behaviour has already been stipulated by the management of how they wish the workforce to conform and therefore expect these patterns to re-enforce organisational culture. A method in which an employee can become accustomed to the social norms of a workplace culture is through induction training.

Therefore the accompanying member of staff would acquaint the new employee of the social norms that have been adopted by staff which they will conform to. This method of control is an example of how management quickly adapt staff to the methods of the workforce that have already been repeated for other staff. A company that would be perceived as having a poor corporate culture would be BP.

In the wake of the oil spill in 2007 in which an inquiry was found to ascertain that intense cost cutting and efficiency measures demoralised the workforce therefore affected practises which precipitated the disaster through negligence of corporate culture.

A final method in which businesses can control their workforce is through the monitoring of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The organisation will monitor their employees’ posts on these sites to ascertain they are behaving in an according manner or post any derogatory statements regarding the business or its staff.

This is a method of control as staff are being monitored while they are on the premises as well as off therefore this encroaches into their personal life affecting the work/life balance. It has been reported that 60% of businesses by 2015 will have some monitor in place in order to track their workforce on social media sites in order to protect the business’s reputation or the brand they are selling .

An example of a business that has used this is Proskauer Rose in which staff have it written into their contract of employment that they will be monitored on social media sites. Therefore to conclude, it would appear that mangers controlling employee behaviour has become more prevalent that endeavouring to attain employee commitment in organisations. This could be the case as controlling employees has become cheaper that resorting to measures to attain employee commitment as well as ensuring their effectiveness in the workplace as well as out of it .

However there should be an even balance between control and commitment from managers to create a suitable working environment for employees as they would not prefer to working in a hostile business which treats them as a tool rather than one which treats them as a valuable resource. Using control methods such as technology and monitoring ensures that staff are adhering to policy set out in their contract.

References
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Verheul, I. (2003). Commitment or control?

Appendix list
1.

1. Working on feedback:
Read the feedback on your assignment carefully, then re-read the piece of work to see the areas that the feedback refers to. You might use a highlighter pen to cross-reference the feedback to your work, or to draw attention to corrections and suggestions. What has your tutor written

(key points)
What do you understand this to mean?
1. Good introduction, underpinned by theory
2. Critical and analytical throughout
3. Good reference base
4. Contextualised into subject
5. Good analysis
6. Must use references properly
7. Used references and examples to illustrate that points made are utilised in business. 8. Good research base

1. A well designed introduction that has been bolstered with the use of business theory to support the argument. 2. By being argumentative on both sides (control and commitment) it shows that there has been research done and concluded that one was more viable than the other. 3. A diverse range of sources has been used to collate examples e.g. journals books internet


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