Research Proposal: New and Improved Rewards at Work

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Question:

Assignment 5: New and Improved Rewards at Work

Employers have been coming up with innovative employee rewards to boost morale and acknowledge employee needs for creativity and personal goal accomplishment. Some of the latest potential employee rewards include using the Internet at work for personal reasons such as shopping, communicating with friends, or personal finances; bringing a pet to work; instituting a controlled napping policy, and the sports and office betting pools. 
Write an eight page paper in which you:

  1. Determine how innovations in employee benefits can improve the overall competitive compensation strategy of the organization.
  2. Explain how innovative benefits could be tied to specific jobs.
  3. Critique the effectiveness of equity-based rewards systems versus those with more creative approaches.
  4. Discuss the key elements of integrating innovation into a traditional total rewards program.
  5. Recommend a process that optimizes an employee-based suggestion program to continually refresh the total rewards of the organization.
  6. Use at least five (5) quality academic resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites do not quality as academic resources.

 
Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:

  • Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
  • Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.

The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:

  • Analyze an organization’s strategy and integrate pay-for-performance plans and total rewards into a compensation strategy that will motivate desired behavior and improve job performance.
  • Explain a benefit plan as part of an overall competitive compensation strategy and the policies to administer the benefits.
  • Use technology and information resources to research issues in total rewards.
  • Write clearly and concisely about total rewards using proper writing mechanics.

Answer:

New and Improved Rewards at Work

            Employee rewards constitute an excellent strategy for employers who want to boost employee morale. Providing employee rewards is also an ideal way through which employers can acknowledge the need for employees to achieve personal goals in addition to the organization’s goals. Today, employers must come up with new and improved rewards at work in order to motivate employees. For example, in the contemporary workplace, employees want the freedom to use the Internet for personal reasons during working hours. Yet many organizations are opposed to this practice because it has a negative impact on employee productivity. However, there is a way in which employers can develop an innovative reward program through which employees are given permission to use the internet for personal reasons.

            Innovations in employee benefits can play a critical role in improving the overall competitive strategy of the organization. At the same time, it is possible for innovative benefits to be tied to specific jobs. Employers can choose to supplement equity-based rewards systems with more creative approaches in order to improve outcomes. However, it can be challenging for organizations to integrate innovation into the existing traditional total rewards programs. Suggestions from employees can be of utmost importance in enabling employers to deal with various implementation challenges.

How Innovations in Employee Benefits Can Improve the Overall Competitive Compensation Strategy of the Organization

Innovations enable organizations to adapt to changes in the working environment, employees’ personal lives, and the current way of doing business. Compensation strategies that reflect these changes are highly likely to be beneficial to both employers and employees. At the same time, employees’ needs keep changing and employers should respond accordingly to maintain the competitiveness of their compensation strategies.

At the same time, different employees have different needs, and thus employers should be creative in the way they improve their reward programs to address the needs of specific employees. Innovations also tend to target the specific job conditions in which individual employees operate. Adapting to these conditions in the design of reward programs is an effective way of developing a competitive compensation strategy that is beneficial to both the organization and the employee. The globalization process has penetrated all spheres of life, including the way human resources are managed. One way in which the most talented professionals can be retained is through the adoption of innovative employee reward programs.

Innovation also plays a critical role in ensuring that the company’s budget is properly controlled and managed. It costs huge sums of money for organizations to compensate their employees. To deliver the greatest value for shareholders, companies must maintain a low level of compensation while at the same time increasing employee commitment. This is a difficult undertaking because failure to raise wages and salaries ordinarily demotivates employees. However, by using creative strategies to come up with a reward program, employees can focus on the things that matter most to employees, thereby motivating them. Ultimately, such efforts contribute immensely to the competitiveness of a company’s compensation strategy.

Effectiveness within the labor market is also a major objective for contemporary organizations. With a competitive compensation strategy, a company is able to find the best employees, motivate them, and retain the best talent that the labor market has to offer. By adopting an innovative approach to employee benefits, an employer is able to differentiate his organization in the job market, consequently making it attractive for the best talents. Most employees prefer to work for companies that offer the most attractive rewards rather than those that do not offer any differentiated benefits.

How Innovative Benefits Could Be Tied to Specific Jobs

There are numerous ways in which innovative benefits could be targeted at specific jobs. For example, a healthcare facility may institute a controlled napping policy for doctors and nurses working in an emergency room. Napping is a powerful way of improving work outcomes in situations where employees worker under immense pressure such as an emergency room. Giving emergency room doctors a nap not only enables them to do a better job, it also influences them to develop a positive attitude towards their work. Taking a shot nap can be beneficial particularly for doctors and nurses working the night shift because it leads to a higher level of alertness, improved mood, and reduced fatigue.

There are many other jobs where a napping policy may be beneficial. For example, people who work as truckers and pilots are likely to get exhausted due to the very nature of their professions. They are likely to work for long hours without sleep quite often. For these professionals, taking a nap is an excellent, yet inexpensive way of compensating for lost sleep. Despite the massive scientific evidence indicating that napping is beneficial for workers, not much has been done by American companies to come up with institutionalized napping programs. This is mainly because employees who often nap are perceived as lazy.

The second example demonstrating how innovative benefits could be tied to specific jobs entails allowing assembly line workers to interact with each other during working hours. To optimize productivity and reduce errors, most companies prohibit interaction among assembly line workers especially those who work in highly standardized production processes. Yet these interactions greatly contribute to the reduction of boredom and monotony.  In highly standardized and repetitive processes, no major problems can occur in relation to performance outcomes simply because of employee interactions. Of course efforts should be put in place to ensure that these interactions are not promoted at the expense of normal assembly line operations. In case such a problem occurs, the employer may need to redesign the rewards program by allocating some few minutes for interactions after every work shift. During these interactions, managers and supervisors may share views on various issues, whether work-related or not. This program can play a critical role in promoting employee commitment and reducing turnover.

The Effectiveness of Equity-Based Rewards Systems versus Those with More Creative Approaches

Equity-based rewards systems are beneficial for organizations in many ways. To begin with, they provide an effect means through which an organization can promote the concept of justice for all employees. Employees are highly likely to be motivated in their work if their justice expectations are high. Conflict among employees may occur in situations of perceived equality violations (Kabanoff, 1991). Such conflicts tend to contribute significantly to reduced cohesiveness within the workforce. Conflict among teams is a common problem within organizations that adopt team-based rewards programs (DeMatteo, Eby & Sundstrom, 1998). Under these programs, rewards are offered based on the performance of each team. The resulting competition leads to rivalry that may be counterproductive for the organization. Consequently, employers are often compelled to come up with creative approaches that address both the dynamics of group processes and organizational performance.

Under creative approaches, employers tend to introduce changes in various variables, including reward size, method of allocation, reward payout frequency, and team characteristics (DeMatteo, Eby & Sundstrom, 1998). Other factors influencing the design of a creative rewards system include individual characteristics, individualism-collectivism continuum, and team composition. Using teams as primary work units of work is an excellent way of dealing with the problems that may arise from the adoption of non-equity based rewards schemes. For example, an employer can always alter the team composition to ensure that all teams have similar characteristics before enforcing an innovative rewards system.

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Equity-based rewards can also be highly effective in situations where the level of interdependence among jobs is considerably high. Incidentally, this aspect of interdependence is a major defining factor for today’s companies. Organizations are increasingly becoming flattened, with technology playing a critical role in the emerging interdependencies among jobs and tasks. Thus, it has become difficult for companies to single out the contributions of individual employees. This problem can be dealt with by focusing on the contributions of teams.

In corporate America, some of the commonly used equity-based rewards include stock options, annual bonuses, long-term incentive plans, severance arrangements, perquisites, and deferred compensation (Conyon, 2006).  It is common for salaries and bonuses to be tied to performance in one way or the other. Perquisites normally take the form of perks, for example gaining access to golf club memberships and a private airplane. A widely discussed rewards system is one where the rewards that are given to employees are tied to the performance of the organization. One of the ways in which this approach is manifested is stock options, whereby employees are allowed to purchase a specified number of shares at an excise price within a specific period. However, the effectiveness of this equity-based rewards program has been questioned in the wake of numerous corporate scandals relating to stock options. These scandals happened mainly because executives of major corporations were tempted to manipulate the prices of their companies stock by presenting inaccurate financial information with a view to accumulate massive financial returns from the sale of their stock at high prices.

These challenges have driven companies into adopting more creative approaches in their efforts to reward employees. Creative approaches are advantageous because they tend to be inexpensive (Saks, 2006). Their high level of effectiveness occurs because employers focus primarily on addressing the needs of specific employees. For example, a rewards program whereby a company establishes a daycare center within its premises can lead to a rapid increase in productivity because employees would no longer be wasting a lot of time taking their children to far-away daycare centers in the morning and picking them up in the evening.

The Key Elements of Integrating Innovation into a Traditional Total Rewards Program

One key element that should be considered in the integration process is the need to address the specific needs of individual employees. What one individual considers interesting may be considered uninteresting by another employee. Many employers tend to be surprised upon realizing that a salary does not rank extremely on many employees’ list of preferences (Kovach, 1989). Yet attractive wages are normally easier to offer than highly innovative, interesting rewards that are a reflection of employees’ priorities. Other than income-related needs, employees report to work every day with a view to meet self-fulfillment needs such as appreciation for a job well done, job security, and good working conditions. One of the best ways to capture the diversity of needs among employees is to refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. The theory five levels of needs, namely physiological, safety, social, ego, and self-actualization (Kovach, 1989). Most traditional total rewards programs focus on physiological or “deficit” needs such as food and shelter, yet many employees have other pressing needs such as achievement, status, appreciation, and self-actualization (Kovach, 1989).

 The component of equality in the workplace must also be put into consideration during the integration process. A rewards program that makes some employees feel that their contribution is less important to the success of the organization than that of other employees is likely to trigger rivalry and conflict. While employees have different abilities and commitment levels, any rewards program must promote equality for everyone in order for improvements to the current level of performance to occur. At the same time, the element of competition must also be fostered by the rewards program. A creative approach should be adopted to ensure that the resulting competition does not turn into rivalry. Cost-effectiveness if also a crucial consideration. The chosen program should be inexpensive to implement or else it will be incongruent with the objectives of the existing traditional programs. Lastly, for successful integration to occur, the innovative rewards program should be adaptable to the changing employees’ circumstances as well as conditions in the workplace environment.

Recommendations on a Process That Optimizes an Employee-Based Suggestion Program to Continually Refresh the Total Rewards of the Organization

It is important for employers to give employees a voice in the process of introducing new and improved rewards at work. Thus, employers should consider developing a process that gives optimal opportunities for employees to make suggestions that ultimately become drivers of a continually refreshed total rewards programs of the organization. Employers should consider adopting a five-step process that entails providing a positive working environment; recognizing, rewarding, and reinforcing acceptable organizational behavior; involvement and engagement; the development of skills and potential; and evaluation and measurement.

A successful completion of the first step which is to create a positive working environment requires employers to incorporate employees’ views into every new rewards program that they introduce. On the other hand, recognizing, rewarding, and reinforcing acceptable organizational behavior requires constant employer-employee interactions. With time, employees gain knowledge on the kind of behavior that the employer considers acceptable while the employer gains insights into the kind of innovative rewards program that can best reinforce acceptable organizational behavior. employers can promote employee involvement and engagement can best be promoted by constantly measuring and evaluating proactive workplace practices and policies that facilitate the attraction and retention of the most skilled and competent talent (Lockwood, 2007). As long as the needs of these talented workers are being identified and responded to through the introduction of the most appropriate rewards programs, growth and sustainability in the organization will become achievable. Lastly, employee involvement is of utmost importance in the development of skills as well during evaluation and measurement.

References

Conyon, M. (2006). Executive compensation and incentives. Academy of Management Perspectives, 20(1), 25-44.

DeMatteo, J. Eby, L. & Sundstrom, E. (1998). Team-based rewards: current empirical evidence and directions for future research. Research in Organizational Behavior, 20, 141-183.

Kabanoff, B. (1991). Equity, equality, power, and conflict. Academy of Management Review, 16(2), 416-441.

Kovach, K. (1989). What motivates employees? Workers and supervisors give different answers. Business Horizons, 3(7), 58-65.

Lockwood, N. (2007). Leveraging employee engagement for competitive advantage: HR’s strategic role. SHRM Research Quarterly, 2(3), 1-11.

Saks, A. (2006). Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(7), 600 – 619.

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