Motivating through Total Reward
A Royal Bank of Scotland case study

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Page 3: What is motivation?

For many years, management theorists have tried to understand what makes some people work harder than others. Some of the motivation factors identified by theorists can be seen at work in RBS. Early theorists on staff motivation always looked at factors outside the individual.

Taylor and the 'piece rate'

Frederick W. Taylor (1911) was the creator of 'scientific management'. He felt that every job was measurable and each element of a job could be timed. All managers had to do was pay for every item the workers produced and they would work harder to get more money. This led to a long established pay scheme called the 'piece rate', where workers received a fixed amount for every unit of output. Schemes like this are usually associated with manufacturing industries and are not appropriate for a complex service-led organisation like RBS.

Herzberg and 'two-factor' theory

Another theorist, Frederick Herzberg (1959), carried out a large-scale survey into motivation in American industry. The results of his survey led him to develop a 'two-factor' theory of motivation. Firstly, he established that if an employee's basic needs (such as a suitable working environment and a basic rate of pay) were not met, then this creates a source of dissatisfaction. Herzberg termed these 'hygiene factors'. On the other hand, the presence of less tangible factors, such as the provision of challenging work and recognition for doing well, can create or increase work motivation. Herzberg termed these 'motivators'.

RBS has put in place several of Herzberg's 'motivators':

  • employees get recognition for good work
  • they have a collective sense of achievement when the whole business does well
  • they gain extra responsibility and advancement through regular performance reviews
  • when RBS people do well in their work, the company rewards them.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

needs of a worker

The theory of Abraham H. Maslow (1943) on staff motivation is also evident at RBS. Maslow referred to a 'Hierarchy of Needs' which is usually drawn as a pyramid.

According to Maslow, the most basic needs on this hierarchy had to be satisfied before workers could look to the next level. Basic physical needs were things like shelter, food, warmth and bodily functions. Next, people had to feel safe in their environment. RBS provides these basic needs wherever it creates jobs.

Maslow's higher levels of need are less obvious and less easy to describe but of great importance. Social needs refer to the fact that we want to feel part of something we share in. RBS creates the opportunity for its community of employees worldwide to share in its common goals and vision for the group. It does this by rewarding the people who contribute to its success through their commitment and hard work.

RBS provides 'self actualisation' by offering recognition, promotion opportunities and the chance to develop a lifelong career with the Group.

The next level 'esteem' - refers to our need to feel valued, that what we do matters. The RBS mindset is that employees can 'make it happen' for themselves. It provides opportunities for all employees through promotion or training and then recognises their achievements. Through this RBS employees can improve their self-esteem. At the very top of Maslow's hierarchy is our human need for 'self actualisation'. This means we work hard in order to be as good as we possibly can be. RBS meets this by offering recognition, promotion opportunities and the chance to develop a lifelong career with the Group.

Royal Bank of Scotland | Motivating through Total Reward