Motivation at Emirates Airline

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Different theorists have put forward motivation and job satisfaction as important factors of employee performance in an organization.

Out of the many theories that have been established to address these two aspects, need-based theories and process theories feature prominently in terms of guiding organizations on how to foster motivation and job satisfaction in their employees.

Emirates Airline can foster a culture of high performance as a way of gaining competitive advantage in its industry.

Human resource management and leadership play an important role in facilitating the implementation of the recommendations on motivation and job satisfaction.


The centrality of employees in the success of an organization is an indisputable fact, in the current world of business. Managers have become aware of the fact that employees are the greatest assets in the achievement of the goals of all organizations (Lanzeby, 2008).

Although many factors contribute to productivity, job performance is considered the most influential. Managers and organizations have shown more interest in developing highly efficient and productive employees.

Concisely, to achieve high performance, it is important for employees to have the required qualifications, an understanding of their tasks, and most importantly, the ‘will’ to carry out the expected tasks (Bentley, 2013). Industrial and organizational psychologists believe that employee motivation plays an important role in the achievement of high job performance and the overall organizational success.

Literature Review

Kreitner and Kinick (2004) define motivation as the degree or level of preparedness of an organization’s employees to work towards the achievement of set goals. It implies the nature of the set of forces that provoke the degree of preparedness.

Rainey (2009), defines motivation as the combination of forces that maintain or alter the direction, quality, and intensity of behavior in an individual, and by extension, the whole organization. According to Hiriayappa (2009), motivation is a combination of complex forces, needs, drives, tension states, and other factors that sustain individual voluntary activity that is geared towards the achievement of some defined goals.

Tracy (2013) simply defines motivation as the level of an individual’s desire to engage in some activity.

According to Landy and Conte (2010), the concept of motivation is multifaceted and difficult to classify. Hence, its precise definition is also elusive since the concept includes individual and situational characteristics as well as individual perceptions of a given situation. Although employee abilities play an important role in determining their level of performance, their motivation determines an organizational liveliness (Stringer & Didham, 2011). Motivation is a combination of different issues, factors, or forces that start and maintain human behavior. It captures how such forces are directed and sustained to achieve some predetermined outcomes.

According to Robbins and Judge (2008), job satisfaction and motivation are often confused with one another. However, according to Rainey (2009), the two concepts are related but not synonymous, since job satisfaction is part of the motivational process. Job satisfaction is the fulfillment that is derived from experiencing various activities and rewards in a job setting while motivation is concerned with goal-directed behavior.

Different theories that include need-based theories, process theories, and approaches such as human resource management and leadership have been put forward to explain job satisfaction and motivation.

Need-based approach or content theory

The extent to which a business meets its employee needs is a key determinant of the level of performance of the employees and hence the capacity of the business to attain its objectives.

According to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, people have five fundamental needs that are activated in a hierarchical manner from the lowest to the highest such that it is necessary to satisfy the lowest needs before the next higher needs are triggered (Akehurst, Comeche, & Galindo, 2009). These needs are classified into five levels, namely physiological, protection, attachment, admiration, and self-actualization.

Physiological needs are the most basic of all the needs of an individual. They include food, drink, shelter, warmth, and sleep (Hiriayappa, 2009). Organizations should provide salaries and benefits that enable employees to afford adequate living conditions.

Security needs are activated only after the physiological needs have been met. They refer to the needs that relate to the desire of a secure working environment that is devoid of any harm or threats (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004). Social needs are the third in the hierarchy, and refer to the need to be affiliated or to belong to a social group. It is the need to be loved and accepted in a given setting (Robbins, 2013). For instance, Emirates Airline can promote teamwork and social events such as picnics, or organization-bowling events. Such efforts help to create an environment where each member feels wanted and accepted (Stringer & Didham, 2011). It is important for an organization to strive to meet the social needs of its employees by creating an environment where each person is treated fairly and accepted by all people without discrimination.

Self-esteem requirements denote the yearning to be cherished, recognized, and approved by others. Such needs emanate from the desire to feel that the organization values each employee contributes to the organization (Bentley, 2013). For example, an organization that strives to provide autonomy, recognition, achievement, and independent is able to promote self-esteem in its workforce. Lastly, self-actualization needs are ranked uppermost on the Maslow’s ladder of requirements. They represent the desire to achieve one’s highest potential. They also include the desire to achieve self-development. According to Gibson, Ivancevich, Donnelly, and Konopaske (2006), self-actualized individuals are important and valuable assets to an organization. To achieve this goal, it is important for Emirates Airline to provide a platform for training, self-development through challenging tasks, and opportunities for career growth.

According to the two-factor theory as developed by Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman, some factors in the workplace cause job satisfaction while others lead to job dissatisfaction (Gibson et al., 2006). The level of achievement of employee needs determines their job satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004).

Factors that lead to job satisfaction include accomplishment, acknowledgement, accountability, progression, growth, and labor among others.

Factors that lead to job dissatisfaction include safety concerns, business guiding principles, connection with colleagues, work conditions, wages, and ranks among others.

Herzberg points that the opposite of approval is no approval while that of displeasure is no displeasure. As such, the achievement of the factors of satisfaction does not affect or eliminate the dissatisfaction factors (Rainey, 2009). Elimination of the dissatisfaction factors does not lead to satisfaction. Therefore, it is important for the different factors to be addressed independently.

Addressing job dissatisfaction factors will eliminate dissatisfaction, but will not lead to satisfaction. Therefore, to create motivation, it is important to address and focus on job satisfaction factors such as growth, achievement, and responsibility. In an organizational setting, it is important to address the factors of dissatisfaction to eliminate dissatisfied personnel and then improve the job satisfaction factors to improve employee motivation and consequently performance (Paarlberg, Perry, & Hondeghem, 2008). Putting in place measures to create a safe work environment with sound policies will help Emirates Airline eliminate dissatisfaction in the organization while putting in place measures to allow recognition and growth will help it create a motivated workforce. To apply Herzberg’s theory, an organization must adopt a two-stage process where it first eliminates the causes of employee dissatisfaction and then help each worker achieve satisfaction. In the first stage, to eliminate job dissatisfaction, Emirates Airline should fix poor and obstructive policies, provide effective, non-intrusive, and supportive supervision, create and support an organizational culture that fosters respect for all, ensure competitive salaries, create a secure work environment, and ensure job status by providing meaningful work for each position (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004).

Once the organization eliminates issues of dissatisfaction, it should now focus on creating job satisfaction, which is the second stage of implementing Herzberg’s theory. In this stage, the focus should be on providing opportunities for recognition and achievement, creating a work environment that matches the skills and abilities of employees, creating opportunities for growth in the company through promotions and trainings, and giving responsibility of all individuals as much as possible (Lanzeby, 2008).

Alderfer’s ERG hypothesis draws its concepts from Maslow’s ladder of wants. It constitutes of three components, namely existence, relatedness, and growth. In this theory, existence combines the physiological and safety needs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Bentley, 2013). Further, relatedness are addressed as the belonging needs of the Maslow’s theory while growth relates to the last two Maslow’s needs, namely esteem and self-actualization (Rainey, 2009).

McClelland’s Acquired Needs theory holds that needs are acquired throughout life. In this case, needs are not innate, but develop through life experiences. It identifies three types of needs, namely the need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power (Robbins, 2013).

Process theories

Process theories focus on the processes through which behavior is energized, directed, sustained, and stopped. Unlike the need-based theories that focus on how organizations meet their employee needs, process theories provides answers on how organizations can sustain their employee motivation.

By understanding the processes of maintaining a highly motivated and satisfied workforce, an organization is able to achieve high performance and meet its goals (Stringer & Didham, 2011).

Three popular theories in this category include equity, expectancy, and goal-setting theories.

Equity theory holds that employees continuously assess their level of effort against those of others and the rewards they receive for such efforts. According to Kreitner and Kinicki (2004), this social comparison indicates the desire of people for fairness and equity. The theory posits that if employees perceive a significant difference between their efforts and rewards with those of others, they will strive to bring their efforts, either up or down, to the level of the others. This goal is achieved by either adjusting their level of performance or trying to adjust the level of performance of the others to match theirs. Therefore, it is important for organizations to be seen as rewarding their employees equitably and fairly whilst adjusting any inequalities quickly.

Expectancy theory is one of the most comprehensive and important process theories. It has been used extensively to understand employee motivation. According to Bentley (2013), motivation is partly a decision-making process that gauges and evaluates efforts for outcomes. In other words, the theory seeks to explain or predict task-related effort. According to Robbins (2013), an individual does well-calculated, but voluntary choices on whether a given job can be accomplished, an outcome will be achieved because of performance, and

The outcome will be desirable. The theory is important in explaining the relationship between expected rewards and the present-day behavior.

Goal-setting theory is a motivation theory that was put forward by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham. It is the most validated and dominant theory of employee motivation (Paarlberg, Perry, & Hondeghem, 2008). The theory holds that people are motivated when they know what is expected of them (goals). It advocates for organizations to ensure that there are well-established goals and feedback for employees to perform better. In the goal-setting process, the organization must ensure that the goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART) (Bentley, 2013). The theory is built on five principles, namely clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback, and task complexity. In clarity, an organization must put forward measurable and unambiguous goals (Landy & Conte, 2010). When goals are clear, measurable, and time-bound, there is also clarity on the behaviors that will be rewarded and hence more motivation. The level of challenge is an important principle. People are motivated by achievement. In terms of commitment, goal-setting theory asserts that it is important for employees to feel as part of the process of goal creation to be dedicated to their achievement (Lanzeby, 2008). In this case, if employees feel that the goals are achievable, they are likely to express commitment (Bentley, 2013). It is important for Emirates Airline to ensure open and timely feedback relating to the tasks of the employees. The feedback is a two-way process where the management must listen to feedback from employees to gauge their progress and/or offer its advice to the employees. It is important for Emirates Airline to set goals and tasks that are not overly complex in relation to the employee qualifications and roles (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004). Pushing employees excessively to achieve complex goals can be counterproductive and a blow to their motivation.

Job satisfaction

Akehurst, Comeche, and Galindo (2009) assert that the higher the prestige of a job, the greater the job satisfaction. However, other researches oppose this claim by pointing out that many workers are satisfied even in the least prestigious jobs (Rainey, 2009). Consequently, defining job satisfaction is not an easy task since it is subjective to individuals’ feelings and states of mind (Tracy, 2013).

According to Gibson et al. (2006), job satisfaction is influenced by different factors such as quality relationship between an employee and supervisor, quality of the workplace environment, and degree of job fulfillment in work. Robbins and Judge (2008) confirm that jobs vary in terms of the degree to which they involve skill variety, autonomy, task identity, task significance, and task feedback.

When jobs are designed to increase the presence of the above characteristics, they result in three important psychological states in employees that include increased experience of meaningfulness of work, increased feelings of responsibility for work outcomes, and increased knowledge of the outcomes of work activities. When employees achieve these states, they are likely to become highly motivated and satisfied with their jobs.

HRM & leadership in motivation and job satisfaction

Human resource management is concerned with recruitment and the overall welfare of employees.

Leadership is important in offering guidance to employees, thus facilitating the achievement of their individual goals in the organization (Bentley, 2013).

At Emirates Airline, the human resource management ensures that employees have the necessary skills and abilities to carry out the expected role in a favorable workplace environment.

The leadership of the organization must help in facilitating this environment by putting in place leadership skills and decisions on issues such as policies and resource allocation to ensure that employees remain focused and motivated to achieve their goals.

Human resource management and leadership in Emirates Airline are also important in maintaining a motivated and satisfied workforce (Rainey, 2009).

From theory to practice

Rewarding is a prominent tenet that arises from different motivational theories. In an organizational setting rewards relate to tangible incentives such as allocation of additional responsibilities, increase in pay, and superior work assignments (Stringer & Didham, 2011). While most organizations use money as rewards, it is not always a good approach. Emirates Airline should combine it with other reward methods since money is not always available and neither are all employees motivated by it (Akehurst, Comeche, & Galindo, 2009). It is important for Emirates Airline to understand what motivates its workforce before designing rewards to that effect. For example, the role of rewards is extensively mentioned in equity, expectancy, and goal-setting theories, which view rewards as motivating factors for job performance in an organization such as Emirates Airline.

Emirates Airline must ensure that rewards and recognition that are put in place contribute to positivity at the organization by maintaining fairness and equity so that they do not demotivate unrewarded employees (Hiriayappa, 2009). To avoid this situation, it is important for rewards to be based on well-established guidelines that link them to employee performance at the organization. When this goal is achieved, the rewards will be able to achieve their full motivational capacity on one hand and preventing grievances on the other.

Another important approach is linking rewards to behavior and performance. This strategy is even more important when rewards include promotions or financial bonuses. A good performance appraisal system, although blamed for being excessively bureaucratic and time consuming, can be a good way of ensuring that rewards are linked to performance and behavior (Robbins & Judge, 2008). To avoid the complexities of such a system, Emirates Airline should provide rewards in close proximity to its employee appraisals. Further, the organization must ensure that the rewards reflect its goals (Landy & Conte, 2010). By ensuring that the rewards are linked to behavior and performances that advance the goals of the organization, Emirates Airline will achieve motivation that is beneficial to the employees and ultimately the organization.

Recognition is an important aspect of an organization that is supported by all theories of motivation. Acknowledgment entails official and casual vague enticements such as approval and honor. For example, in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, recognition falls under the esteem needs and is highly ranked as a motivating factor. Although it is highly underutilized, it costs nothing and is highly motivating (Tracy, 2013). Recognition connotes positivity and always acknowledges good actions and behavior (Robbins & Judge, 2008). At Emirates Airline, it is important for the management to ensure that managers take the initiative to recognize employees for their good efforts either informally as they walk around or through written comments and warm handshakes. Formally, Emirates Airline can allow for recognitions by mentioning individual or group of employees during formal meetings, annual meeting, and other events that offer such platforms (Lanzeby, 2008). However, while it is important to recognize employees at all levels, overusing the tool can erode its effectiveness.

Feedback is an important approach towards motivation and job satisfaction that Emirates Airline. The human resource management and leadership of the organization must provide good two-way feedback mechanisms. For example, the organization should be proactive in giving feedback on employee performance and/or observing employee feedback through their performance and making adjustments where possible to improve their performance (Robbins & Judge, 2008). If done correctly, it is an important approach for Emirates Airline to foster employee performance and job satisfaction. Feedback is a major tenet of the goal-setting theory. It is important in ensuring that organizations and employees adjust accordingly to meet each other’s expectations (Rainey, 2009). The management of Emirates Airline should ensure that feedback is focused on the future rather that past mistakes whilst allowing employees to respond where necessary. Documenting feedback is important, as it allows managers to track the progress of issues raised in feedback.

Emirates Airline must encourage relatedness and commitment. A feeling of belonging increases organizational commitment, which ensures that members are responsible and able to undertake tasks for the sake of the group and organization (Lanzeby, 2008). To achieve this goal, Emirates Airline must foster teamwork, for instance, by establishing a mission statement that unites the whole team. Further, it should strive to create collective tasks to foster teamwork. Creating opportunities for team bonding and meeting through picnics and other events is also important in creating a feeling of oneness. It is also important to show courtesy to each member of the organization, acknowledging individual and group achievements, and appreciating and valuing each employee.

Emirates Airline must strive to create a good working environment to foster motivation, job satisfaction, and ultimately high levels of performance. In this case, security ranks highly in defining what constitutes a good working environment. At its basic level, a secure working environment is devoid of any physical harm and risks (Akehurst, Comeche, & Galindo, 2009). At a higher level, security relates to job security, support, fair treatment, and respect for each person. The organization must strive to provide job security, as it allows employees to feel that they are wanted in the organization and that they are not going to be fired unceremoniously (Robbins & Judge, 2008). To achieve this goal, Emirates Airline’s managers must communicate the importance of each employee’s work to the organization’s goals to ensure that they feel as part of the system. The work environment should also foster the participation of each employee. The participation should be carried in a fair and equitable manner in the organization. It should also allow employees to take part in decision-making so that they can own the process and the decisions.

Emirates Airline must offer opportunities for growth. This element represents the highest need in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It relates to self-actualization. At Emirates Airline, it is important for the organization to provide an opportunity for growth through various means such as promotions and trainings (Hiriayappa, 2009). For example, many organizations fail to offer their employees training opportunities. They cite their cost implications. Such an approach is counterproductive since it not only leads to a demotivated workforce, but also jeopardizes the organization’s capacity to remain competitive in its industry. Training can be formal or informal. In informal training, managers are actively involved in helping employees in acquiring better on-job skills. Formal training can be done through in-house trainings or even through attending training programs in training institutions. In some cases, employees may fund their training. However, it is advisable for the organization to strive to cover most of such trainings. Only by getting more knowledge from training and other exposure activities can Emirates Airline get new ideas of doing its business (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004). Another important approach is to be actively involved in preparing employees for future job opportunities in the organization to which they may be promoted. By offering new challenges to employees, Emirates Airline will offer an opportunity for growth and self-actualization.

The company must offer a good work-life balance for their employees. Most of the people who work at Emirates Airline have families to which they need to attend. Any organization that does not uphold the family is doomed to fail since employees will not give fully to it once they realize that some basic right have been denied to them. Apart from employee physiological needs that are catered for adequately, it is important to ensure that their personal problems are addressed accordingly to ensure that they remain focused in their work. The Emirates Airline should provide a working arrangement that promotes work-life balance. For instance, offering counseling services as well as giving off-days on the need basis can be an important way of ensuring that employees feel that their private lives are respected. In this way, Emirates Airline will succeed in ensuring that personal problems of employees do not hinder the achievement of goals.


In the current business environment, remaining relevant and competitive is a challenge that organizations such Emirates Airline face. However, the labor force holds the key to achieving the competitive advantages that are necessary to compete effectively.

Motivation and job satisfaction hold the key to high employee performance.

Different theories have been put forward to explain how an organization can help its employees to be motivated and satisfied. Need-based theories such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s two-factor theory, and process theories such as equity, expectancy, and goal-setting theories make important recommendations on how an organization can create motivation and job satisfaction on its employees. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs lists five hierarchically activated needs, which must be met to create motivation and job satisfaction among employees. Herzberg’s two-factor theory on the other hand, identifies factors that cause job satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

Strategies that the company can apply include rewards, recognition, feedback, work-life balance, opportunities of growth, good work environment, and relatedness and commitment. These elements are important to Emirates Airline. Hence, it should adopt them to achieve a high performance workforce. While implementing these recommendations, the support of the organization‘s leadership and human resource management is of great importance.


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