While a vibrant workplace will be one that encourages humor and fun, reaching business goals is ultimately serious business. Moreover, the mood is not conducive to the idea of ‘fun’ immediately after a layoff. Here, again, there are no rules of thumb for managers to follow. Motivation theories can offer a guideline to tackle these situations, but the unique considerations differ in each practical case. Ideally, strong leaders are those who take difficult economic and business conditions in their stride and maintain a semblance of calm in the most turbulent of times. It then follows that the work environment retains the element of fun and excitement which are key ingredients for creativity and enhanced productivity. Indeed, much of Google and Apple’s successes could be attributed to the creative and intellectually stimulating atmosphere inherent in their premises. The role of the top management would then be to make the retained workforce feel they are special and encourage them to fill the void created by the lay-offs. (Murphy, 2009) Creating a personal stake for the retained workforce is the best method to achieve this end. This could be accomplished by offering stock options or an attractive incentive program. A visible career path with quantitative milestones in between is also a proven method of motivation. Companies such as Microsoft and Cisco are excellent in this regard. The best of managers would take into consideration the sensitive nature of lay-offs and create an impression that the losses are felt. Otherwise, it would appear sadistic to find fun in an environment when many livelihoods are disrupted. Conaty certainly would agree with this assessment, for he says
“It’s a mistake to legislate fun out of the workplace. You need to continue to celebrate, especially in tough times…We need to dial down how we celebrate, yes, but it’s not natural to have to continuously wear a deadly serious game face.” (Conaty, as quoted in Kreitner & Kinicki, p.234)
Terpstra, David E, Theories of Motivation – Borrowing the Best, Personnel Journal (pre-1986); Jun 1979; ProQuest Central, p.376.
Herzberg, Frederick, One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?, Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 1968.
The Effective Manager, Chapter 6: Motivation Theories, p.185 – p.189.
Kreitner, R & Kinicki, A 2013, Organisational Behaviour , 10th edn, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York.
Kreitner and Kinicki, OB in Action Case study (HOW Should Managers handle Tough Employment Decisions?): 10th ed. Page 234.
Fishbein, M.; Ajzen, I. (1975), Belief, attitude, intention, and behavior: An introduction to theory and research, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley
Murphy, Jim (2009), Inner Excellence, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 978-0-07-163504-2